Re-enable search keyword highlighting in address bar




6 months ago
10 days ago


(Reporter: steefy389, Unassigned, NeedInfo)



Firefox Tracking Flags

(firefox66 affected)




6 months ago
The address bar recently received a feature to highlight typed in search keywords. This makes it easier to recognize those searches on a glance (although there are still design considerations, Bug 1506316).

The original feature contained some bugs, which were addressed in Bug 1504552 amongst others. With the fix for this bug (, only @-entries are continued to be highlighted, simple keywords aren't. This seems to be by design, as it's part of a testcase ("Aliases that don't start with @ shouldn't be highlighted."; function nonAtMarkAlias()).

I'd like to argue that highlighting these keywords is actually the better alternative and this should be re-enabled.
What's the reason?
Our UX team surely has valid reasons based on their knowledge and experience, and yes, this was made totally by design.

Comment 2

6 months ago
AFAIK there is no difference in behavior when using @searchengine or the corresponding shortcut. Both lead to the same result: a search on the configured search engine. Therefore there shouldn't be a difference in the UI as well, both should be highlighted.

This is also the behavior that got released to stable in the first place. This change here now (although intentional; that's why this is a new bug, not a reopen) wasn't explained anywhere. It's just the comment in code. So, the UX team might have a reason, but it would be a good idea to share it as well. Because I do not see the point.
Verdi can probably give you  a better answer than me.

From a technical point of view, what was released was a bug.
Flags: needinfo?(mverdi)
Priority: -- → P5

Comment 4

4 months ago

I completely agree with Steef on this one. Perhaps this behavior should be spun into an about:config preference. I immediately noticed when this (normal search keyword highlighting) went away, as it makes me unable to see if I've hit the right search keyword out of the corner of my eye. This really relates to using Chrome and Firefox the same way (same keystrokes and cues to do the same thing). More detailed rant/whine at .

I also fail to see why the highlighting is good for @keywords, but bad for other keywords. Is there any sane UX reason for this? Do a large amount of people even use the @keywords?


10 days ago
Ever confirmed: true

Comment 6

10 days ago

Shortly after highlighting was removed from non-@ keywords, when I typed in keyword searches I presumed I'd misremembered or mistyped my keywords: that they weren't highlighted indicated that Firefox wasn't going to perform the keyword search, so I needed to fix my mistake before continuing.

Eventually I realized that Firefox had changed and wasn't highlighting them any more, and it stopped being so offputting.

But it was a really nice feature while it lasted, giving me confidence and reassurance that I had typed in an actual keyword properly before pressing Enter and committing to it. This is particularly useful because if you get a keyword search wrong, it can be awkward to fix afterwards: normally if you get a character wrong in a URL, when you get the error message you can just edit that character. But if you accidentally typo:

kewyord search-term

then the error condition is to perform a web search, replacing what you typed with a long URL such as:

You can't just swap round the ‘w’ and ‘y’ like with a normal typo: all that extra gubbins from the URL needs removing. This clearly quite user-hostile, and the keyword highlighting neatly prevented this situation.

I can understand that the original design was only to highlight @-keywords, and that highlighting normal keywords was unintentional. But given than highlighting all keywords has been found to be useful, and improves the user experience, what's the disadvantage in retaining it? Is there a situation in which a user is worse off for having all keywords highlighted?

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