Firefox/Features/keywordurl follows searchbar

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Replace keyword.URL to follow Search Bar and/or allow independent setting of provider
Stage Definition
Status `
Release target `
Health OK
Status note UX/Privacy/Eng feedback required


Product manager Kev Needham
Directly Responsible Individual Kev Needham
Lead engineer TBD (Gavin?)
Security lead `
Privacy lead Alex Fowler
Localization lead `
Accessibility lead `
QA lead Simona Badau
UX lead Alex Limi
Product marketing lead `
Operations lead `
Additional members `

Open issues/risks

  • Privacy: implication of sending data from Location Bar to search engines other than Google, about:rights changes

Stage 1: Definition

1. Feature overview

Currently, keyword.URL defines what search service is used for search queries triggered by terms entered in the Location Bar. The value of keyword.URL can only be set through about:config, and is not related nor can it be controlled via the "Manage Search Engines..." UI from the search bar. This feature is intended to give users some control over which search service provider from the location bar by having it follow the current (default) engine selected through the Search Bar/add-on/application default.

2. Users & use cases

  • Change Location Bar searches to match selected/default search engine via
    • User change of selected/default search engine through Search Bar or "Manage Search Engines
    • Application change of selected/default search (NB: if a user has changed the app default, the user change would always trump the application change)
    • Addon change of selected/default search engine on install
  • checks on startup or periodic checks to ensure Location Bar searches match what user has selected
  • Allow inclusion of Param or MozParam attributes in the search query that are specific to location bar searches (similar to 596439)

3. Dependencies

  • Searches from the Location Bar default to Google regardless of the currently configured Search Engine for the browser 637675

4. Requirements

  • detect change of default search engine ( on startup, add-on install, search engine install, or user change
  • on detection of change, modify keyword.URL parameter (or equivalent) to match selected/default search engine such that location bar searches will use the same search service
  • optionally drop keyword.URL parameter and replace with a location bar search pref and/or do a straight follow of the selected/default search plugin
  • allow location-bar specific Param or MozParam to override or append search query attributes to queries originating from the Location Bar


  • keyword.URL protection (e.g. from hijacking, add-on changed prefs, etc.)
  • inclusion of search suggest or other related info in/modification of Awesome Bar results
  • independent management of keyword.URL or equivalent

Stage 2: Design

5. Functional specification


6. User experience design

No designs required for initial use case, simply a "follow-me" function with no additional UI required. As a follow-on/enhancement, it would be a nice-to-have to develop UI within "Manage search engines..." to allow a user to specify a different search engine from the Search Bar for Location Bar searches.

Stage 3: Planning

7. Implementation plan


8. Reviews

Security review


Privacy review


Localization review




Quality Assurance review


Operations review


Stage 4: Development

9. Implementation


Stage 5: Release

10. Landing criteria


Feature details

Priority P2
Rank 8
Theme / Goal `
Roadmap Search
Secondary roadmap `
Feature list Desktop
Project `
Engineering team Desktop front-end

Team status notes

  status notes
Products ` `
Engineering ` `
Security ` `
Privacy ` `
Localization ` `
Accessibility ` `
Quality assurance ` `
User experience ` `
Product marketing ` `
Operations ` `

Other Documentation

Jesse's writeup of Browse by Name included with Firefox