Mozilla plans to launch a new feature in Firefox soon which will preload autocomplete URLs in the Firefox browser when users type in the address bar.
Designed to give the connection to these sites a boost by doing some initial connecting before the user activates those links, some users may prefer to disable this feature for privacy purposes.
The tweak will preload URLs displayed by Firefox’s autocomplete functionality. When a user types in Firefox’s address bar, suggestions are displayed as the user types.
The best match is highlighted in the address bar of the browser while other suggestions are displayed in a list underneath it. If the best match is a web address — URL — Firefox will preload it as Mozilla sees this as a strong intent that the user wants to open that URL.
Firefox autocomplete URL preloading
Firefox displays suggestions from search, the browser’s bookmarks, and the browsing history by default when users type in the browser’s address bar. Check out our Firefox location bar mastery guide for information on how to customize the output.
Tip: you can delete auto suggest entries in Firefox as well.
When the awesomebar autocompletes to a URL, that is a strong signal that the user has an intent to visit that page. We have a hypothesis that we could speed up the perceived load time of pages if we start preloading pages in the background once we get that intent signal.
This could be particularly valuable, since a behavior that we see in user tests all the time is that users actually type out entire domains, even though it is getting autocompleted. For those users, we could make pages appear to load almost instantly. For users who accept autocomplete results faster, we’d still get a good speed gain in most cases.
Disable the preloading
Firefox users may disable the new preloading functionality. Some users may want to do so for privacy, as they may not want connections to be made before they actually connect to sites. Since a preload is always a guess on what a user may do next, connections may be made to sites that the user won’t visit.
The site may have been visited in the past already though.
- Type about:config in the Firefox address bar and hit enter.
- Search for browser.urlbar.speculativeConnect.enabled.
- Double-click on the preference.
The two values the preference can be set to are:
- A value of True means the feature is enabled — Firefox will preload autocomplete URLs.
- A value of False means the feature is disabled — Firefox won’t preload autocomplete URLs
Mozilla continues to make improvements to the browser to make it faster. Good news for Firefox users is that it is possible to disable the feature, something that it often not possible in other browsers out there (especially Chromium-based browsers).
Now You: Do you find the preloading feature useful?
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