Most web browsers display suggestions when you start to type in the browser’s address bar. These suggestions are matches found in the browsing history, bookmarks, open tabs, and also online results.
Some browsers display them in the order URL and then title, while others began to put the focus on the title and not the URL.
While that may make it easier for some users to identify what a page is about, it leaves the door open for all kinds of issues.
Since titles are not restricted in any way, nothing is keeping sites from using titles that don’t describe the content they are offering. In worst case, sites may be using titles that fake popular sites to get you to visit them.
Firefox and Safari are known for this, while Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome prioritize URLs before titles when you type in the address bar.
It is unclear why Mozilla or Apple display suggestions in this way, but likely because the companies believe that this makes it easier for users.
If you ask me, it is making it harder to make sure that you will land on the site you want to land on. Not only do you have to read the title, the URL is displayed in a smaller font size as well.
How Firefox displays suggestions
The following three screenshots show how Firefox displays suggestions. The first screenshot how it is done in Firefox Stable currently, the second how it will be soon, if Mozilla does not change its mind.
Put the focus on URLs in Firefox’s address bar
The following screenshot shows how address bar suggestions look like after adding some CSS magic to Firefox. Note that the width of the browser window and the length of the title determine the space URL information is displayed in.
There are two options that you have to make the change. The first is the easier one, but it requires that you install the Stylish add-on for Firefox first.
Once done visit the Userstyles website and click to install the Firefox Autocomplete Prioritize URL script.
Firefox will display URLs before titles from that moment on. Apart from that, it makes sure that both URLs and titles use the same font size.
The second option that you have is to apply the changes of the script to the userChrome.css file directly. The advantage of this method is that you don’t need to install Stylish for it.
- Load about:support in Firefox.
- Click on the Show Folder button on the page. This opens the Firefox profile folder on the hard drive.
- Open the chrome folder. If it is not there, create it.
- Open the userchrome.css file in the chrome folder. Again, if it does not exist, create it.
- Visit https://userstyles.org/styles/131235/firefox-autocomplete-prioritize-url and click on the “show css” link on the page.
- Copy all information to the userchrome.css file. Note: make sure the first line
@namespace url(https://www.mozilla.org/keymaster/gatekeeper/there.is.only.xul);exists only once at the top.
- Restart Firefox.
Now You: Do you prefer titles or URLs?