Open Bug 1513459 Opened 5 years ago Updated 3 years ago

The "Provide search suggestions" preference wording/placement is misleading

Categories

(Firefox :: Address Bar, defect, P3)

64 Branch
defect
Points:
5

Tracking

()

People

(Reporter: quasicomputational, Unassigned)

References

Details

User Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:60.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/60.0

Steps to reproduce:

In the preferences on the 'Search' page under 'Default Search Engine', I unticked 'Provide search suggestions'. I then attempted to use a keyword search which should have provided suggestions.


Actual results:

Search suggestions for all providers, accessed with keywords, were disabled.


Expected results:

This behaviour is sort of okay since there does need to be a global way to disable search suggestions for the truly paranoid, but there are two problems:

1. The structure of the preferences page is misleading. The options controlling search suggestions are under 'Default Search Engine' but they actually affect everything. A user who was more trusting of what the UI says and less inclined to experiment could be quite frustrated by this.

2. I would like to be able to disable suggestions going to the default search engine while still having suggestions for keyword searches, for privacy purposes: I don't want Google seeing all my keystrokes while I use the omnibox to look for a tab I have open, but I definitely do want search suggestions when I am about to fire off a Google search.

There's a silly workaround for this: I added a dummy search engine that will never hit the network and set that to be the default. But that's quite obviously a hack and I'd love to be able to ditch it.

I would suggest making it a tripartite toggle: no search suggestions / search suggestions for keywords only / search suggestions for everything in the omnibox. This might also provide a good place for a little blurb reminding users that suggestions will hit the network and the privacy implications.
Component: Untriaged → Search

CC'ing Verdi since this involves UX questions/decisions.

(In reply to quasicomputational from comment #0)

  1. The structure of the preferences page is misleading.

That's a valid point. I'll adjust this bug's summary to reflect it too.

  1. I would like to be able to disable suggestions going to the default
    search engine while still having suggestions for keyword searches

I think that's reasonable.

Status: UNCONFIRMED → NEW
Ever confirmed: true
Priority: -- → P5
Summary: No way to only have search suggestions for keywords → No way to only have search suggestions for keywords, and the "Provide search suggestions" preference wording/placement is misleading

Since Firefox 78, this has started to really cut me again: the dummy search engine shows useless suggestions for things I have previously searched for (and, worse, shows them at the top of the list), when really all I want is history + open tabs.

I'm tentatively moving this across to address bar, as I think they've been dealing with this type of thing recently, and I vaguely remember another similar bug that I can't find at the moment.

Component: Search → Address Bar

(In reply to quasicomputational from comment #2)

Since Firefox 78, this has started to really cut me again: the dummy search engine shows useless suggestions for things I have previously searched for (and, worse, shows them at the top of the list)

I don't have any news about this bug, but you can disable that behavior by setting browser.urlbar.maxHistoricalSearchSuggestions to zero in about:config.

We did fix the similar bug 1648385 recently where we now show suggestions when you type ? (the search restriction character) even if suggestions are disabled. Fixing this bug would be similar to that probably.

See Also: → 1648385
Severity: normal → S3
Priority: P5 → P3

Oh, actually bug 1648385 works not only with ? but also with "token aliases," meaning search keywords that start with @. (There are built-in @ keywords for Google, Bing, and others.) I bet you could work around this bug by adding a @ as the first character in your search keyword. I realize that's not great because it's not a real fix and you'd need to retrain your muscle memory.

So actually a proper fix for this would be modifying bug 1648385's fix to check for search aliases/keywords, not for @.

I don't have any news about this bug, but you can disable that behavior by setting browser.urlbar.maxHistoricalSearchSuggestions to zero in about:config.

Ah, thanks, that's useful to know. Is that setting going to remain long-term, or should I expect it to stop working in a future version?

The irony in this is that I actually really do like the idea of historical search suggestions and, done right, they'd occasionally be very handy, but the current implementation has actually made using Firefox a much worse experience for me (bug 1524190 and bug 1650434 being the other culprits).

See Also: → 1643479

It's not a feature-gate type preference we're planning to remove, like browser.urlbar.oneOffSearches for example. I can't say that particular pref will be around forever, but even if not, I can't imagine we wouldn't provide some way for people to hide these suggestions. You've linked bug 1643479, which is relevant and describes where we want to go.

Thanks for engaging with the other bugs you've filed.

This has regressed again with 82: browser.urlbar.maxHistoricalSearchSuggestions is set to zero but I am getting historical search suggestions when I am attempting to use the URL bar to search for browsing history.

There is a huge amount of changes incoming in Firefox 83, thus it's complicate to evaluate you concern in Firefox 82.
If I set maxHistoricalSearchSuggestions to 0, in search mode (Firefox 83) I see historical suggestions, that seems wrong.

I suspect the problem is here https://searchfox.org/mozilla-central/rev/25d5a4443a7e13cfa58eff38f1faa5e69f0b170f/browser/components/urlbar/UrlbarProviderSearchSuggestions.jsm#447-456 we apparently use maxHistoricalSearchSuggestions as the number of historical suggestions to show before remote suggestions, but then we still keep adding historical suggestions.
There seems to be a miscommunication about what maxHistoricalSearchSuggestions is supposed to represent.
Drew, do you remember why we did this?

Flags: needinfo?(adw)

off-hand, I think we should skip that code if maxHistoricalSearchSuggestions is set to 0, that is an opt-out mechanism. We can keep adding results if it's set to a positive value.

I filed https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1672643 for the regression, so we can continue there and keep this bug about the confusing prefs state.

Flags: needinfo?(adw)

(In reply to Marco Bonardo [:mak] from comment #9)

Drew, do you remember why we did this?

I think it's just a mistake I made in fixing bug 1657648.

Summary: No way to only have search suggestions for keywords, and the "Provide search suggestions" preference wording/placement is misleading → The "Provide search suggestions" preference wording/placement is misleading
Points: --- → 5
You need to log in before you can comment on or make changes to this bug.