Setting the Focus on the Google Home Page

This is just a quick hitter for those folks that use Firefox as their main browser, and Google as their home page.

The Problem: the Focus is in the upper URL bar not in the Google Search box in a new Tab window


I am getting tired of having to reconfigure my system every time we get automatic updates.  A couple of months ago, it was Microsoft, in the guise of a security update, adding a browser toolbar that populated new tab windows with the Bing search bar.  That was sneaky, and a sign of things to come.  I wrote an article on how to fix this problem, if you find the Bing search engine popping up in your browsers new tab window.

The next gaff from Microsoft was when they "inadvertently" removed the Chrome browser from your computer in yet another security update. You can read about that one here.

I have VLC loaded to view videos in Firefox.  I recently discovered that Apple changed Firefox to use QuickTime instead of VLC. You can see this, and change it back in Firefox by going to Firefox options in the upper left Firefox icon, and selecting the Applications tab. Scroll down and you'll see Apple's QuickTime on all your video files. If you click the Action setting you can change it back.

Changing back to VLC instead of Quicktime


The latest annoyance comes from Firefox on their latest browser update.  For those, like me, who have been using Google as their home page for years, instead of those distracting portals, you'll find that when you open a new tab window in Firefox, Google home page will come up, but the focus of where you start typing is in the Firefox's upper URL window, instead of in the Google Home pages search box where it always use to be, see the first picture above.

The problem is when you immediately start typing your search query, it types in the upper URL bar and messes the URL up and doesn't search properly.  Before the focus was on the Google home page's search box when opening a new tab window, and you could start typing immediately.

What this means is when you open a new browser tab window in Firefox, and the Google home page opens, you also have to click in the search box before you start typing your search query.  An extra annoying step.  This is a consistent annoyance for those who are use to just typing their search query as soon as the tab window opens.

If you would like to change it back, in the Firefox top URL window, type "about:config" and hit return.  Ignore the warning, and say you'll "be careful" and Firefox config will open.

In the top filter bar, type "focus".  I think Firefox knew they may be making a mistake in changing the focus, because the setting you need to change, "newtaburl.focus_urlbar" is in bold, hmmm.  Double click anywhere on that line, and the "true" will change to "false" which is what you want. Close the browser and restart it.

Changing back to the Google Search Bar Focus


Now when you go to a new tab window in Firefox, and your Google home page loads, you'll find you can just start typing, like you use to do, and the search query your typing will be in the Google search bar, not on the top URL bar.  Enjoy.

All Fixed Up with the focus back in the Google Search Bar




Setting the Focus on the Google Home Page — 12 Comments

  1. if the listing for “newtaburl.focus_urlbar” does not exist, just create it as a boolean.

  2. if this does not work you may need to check that you don’t have ‘extensions.cnt.focus’ set to true. if it is, just dclick it to false and follow the above instructions to get firefox back to doing what you want it to.

  3. With the recent update to Firefox v17, this configuration does not work for me. I’m using Tab Utilities to set New Tab to This all worked fine in previous versions of Firefox, the focus would be google search, but now it is in the URL bar. I have changed newtaburl.focus.urlbar = false, but when opening a new tab the focus still goes to the URL bar.

    • Thank DAngeloli, Firefox has continually changes its browser to try to keep up with the other browsers, some of it good and some of it bad. But when they do that they bust my fixes to the old version in my articles. I always include the dates with my articles so folks can see what version of Firefox the article was about.

    •  I have Firefox 10.  If you follow the instructions in the article, I think you’ll find “newtaburl.focue.urlbar” and can change it to false.

  4. I’m on Firefox 9.01 and although I have this option, it’s already set to false but I’m still experiencing this VERY annoying issue!

    Whether you can help or not, thanks at least for this first post.

  5. 1) remove ‘New Tab Homepage’ which is probably what you are using now, (if you are already using newTabURL go to step 3.)
    2) add/install newTabURL.
    3) go to addons manager
    4) go to newTabURL options
    5) set the options to your preferences making sure to UNCHECK ‘select location bar after opening new tab’
    incidentally if you want to do the exact opposite, just leave it checked 🙂