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Oh, Come On Mozilla 2024-01-13

Okay, so Mozilla is a corporation that makes [among other things] the Firefox browser. The good news is that Firefox is not quite as shitty as Google's Chrome browser, but it is actually still a fair bit worse than a lot of people want to believe. I suspect that the undying devotion some folks have for Firefox is almost entirely because it isn't Chrome. The fact that Firefox has a lot of plugins (that they sometimes refer to as addons and other times refer to as extensions) is super, but don't forget that they killed a shitload of extensions when they dumped XUL... so don't assume those plugins will be with you forever. Some folks love to gas on about how Firefox is so dedicated to preseving their privacy, even though Firefox has been collecting data about users for years. Some folks love to gas on about how Firefox gives them control over the software they run on their devices, unless you remember what "maintenance service" is or "forced updates".

Anyways, the gripe I am currently concerned with is search engines. Firefox likes to include a few search engines by default, partially because users will probably need one and partially because I assume they get some kind of kickback from the search engines for being there. Lots of folks love DDG because it is supposed to be more private than Google. The fact that DDG censors results may not be a big deal them, and I suspect that like above, in many cases this is simply because it isn't Google. But what about if you want to use a search like my Whoogle instance? For those who do not know, Whoogle is a metasearch engine (though I might think the term search aggregator is more appropriate). It basically proxies search queries to Google, so no matter who is using the service Google thinks "my server" is doing the searches. My server also happens to have all logging disabled, so I don't know who is doing searches, or what they are searching for. Users get the advantage of Google's indexing while having their search terms mixed in with many others which produces a somewhat anonymizing effect. Well, you CAN add my Whoogle as a custom search engine, it just can't come with any preferences (like locale, theme, or exclusions).

photo of Betty White telling Mozilla they are fucking clowns Can't argue with that.

Thanks to jscher2000's instructions here, I was able to piece together the following instructions that should allow Firefox (or forks of it) to use an actual custom search, from your URL bar, without having to use a keyword search parameter, or a stupid XML/json utility or editor, for free, today. I am using my Whoogle as an example, but others should also work.

  1. Type about:config in your URL bar and accept any warnings you may receive.
  2. Paste browser.urlbar.update2.engineAliasRefresh in to the about:config search box (this enables an "Add" button to your search engine settings within Firefox).
  3. Create the browser.urlbar.update2.engineAliasRefresh setting, confirm it is Boolean, and that it is set to True.
  4. Close the about:config page.
  5. Go to the search page.
  6. Click Configuration below the search box and setup your various preferences.
  7. Click Apply at the bottom and then search for the word "poop".
  8. Now copy the long string from your URL bar to a text editor.
  9. Change the word "poop" to %s.
  10. Copy the new string (with the %s) from your URL bar to your clipboard.
  11. Go to your Firefox settings page and click Search over at the left.
  12. Scroll down to the Search Shortcuts section and click the "Add" button just below it.
  13. Give your search engine a name.
  14. Paste the string from above in the second box.
  15. Add a keyword alias if you feel like it.
  16. After saving the new search definition scroll back up to Default Search Engine and select your entry.
  17. Scroll right to the top and confirm that "Use the address bar for search and navigation" is selected.
  18. Test that it works by typing a search term in to the URL bar.

There is really no reason for something so useful to be that irritating. There are a plethora of things Mozilla has prioritized before this and they have been doing so for years. The custom search engine settings within Firefox have been just plain garbage for a long time, and that should say something about the priorities of the people who make it. Hopefully this'll help someone hate Firefox just a little less.

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