Mozilla plans to launch a redesigned options page later this year in Firefox, and one of the changes is a search option to find preferences quickly.
The new preferences page lists less groups than before. The effect is that some preferences have moved to another location, and that users may need some time adjusting to the new hierarchy of preferences.
Good news is that nothing is removed, so that all preferences that exist in Firefox 54 Stable will also be available when the change hits that introduces the new layout of the Firefox options.
According to a Mozilla study, the new layout improves the “average success score”, indicating whether a user found a particular preference, by about 30%. In short: the new options layout is more compact than the old. Less clicking, but more scrolling is the consequence.
Firefox’s Preferences Search
One new feature of the new preferences page of Firefox is that search is available there as well.
The new search field is displayed at the top of the preferences page. You can access it on any page of the preferences to find all matching preferences or values of those preferences.
A search for cookie for instance highlights the preferences of the browser that use that term, among them the show cookies button and the preference “accept cookies from sites”, but also a preference that changes how cookies are handled (use custom settings for history).
The search did not highlight one instance of cookies on the screenshot above though. Not sure if that is by design, as its parent option was highlighted, or a bug.
The search finds preference names and values. You can search for any integrated search engine name for instance, and be taken directly to the preference that lets you manage it.
Search is nearly instant, but there is a short lag before results are displayed in the browser.
Searching preferences is a good addition to Firefox, especially since it goes along well with the redesign and may help users find preferences that were moved to another location quickly.
Firefox is not the first browser to integrate search on the options page. Google Chrome supports search, and so do most Chromium-based browsers such as Vivaldi and Opera.
On a personal note, I’d like to see an option added to search to find about:config preferences that match as well.
Now You: New Options and search, what is your take on those changes?