Firefox 3: URL Bar is Killing Me!



I downloaded Firefox 3 a while back, and have since then suffered through an excruciatingly slow response from the URL bar. It was so slow that I nearly threw my computer out the window. The reason for this slowness is that Firefox has developed a URL bar that is smart enough to remember what you've typed in the past, and presents you with matching, relevant options from which to choose when typing strings into the URL/location bar. When this works, this feature is phenomenal, as I've seen it work on other computers. The response time is very fast, and the options to choose from are always relevant. However, when this feature is so slow that it forces you to wait for results to appear as you type, and won't complete what you are typing, it becomes a complete killer. Because this very situation was happening to me, I tried turning this off in the preferences section. The problem... The option to do so isn't available. This was extremely frustrating. So much so that it nearly drove me away from using the browser ever again. After many failed attempts at finding a solution, I finally came across a blog entry written by Dustin Diaz explaining the features of the new Firefox 3 browser, which helped fix my problem (thank you very much Mr. Diaz). Since the solution to my problem took so long to figure out, I thought I'd share the solution in hopes that it helps anyone else who runs into this.

In your super-slow URL bar, type in "about:config". This should bring up a message that may scare you that states the following:

Fear not, what I tell you to do won't hurt the browser. It'll will only make it better. Once you click "I'll be careful, I promise", you'll be taken to a page that lists all the configuration parameters that you can modify, and there are a ton. We only care about the 'URL bar' parameters, so in the 'Filter:' text box at the top of the page, type "urlbar" and hit enter. This will bring up only the configuration options for the URL bar:

Next, find the "browser.urlbar.matchOnlyTyped" parameter, and doubleclick on this row. This will change it's value to true.

That's it. This should speed up the response time on the URL bar, and make you happy, and more importantly, love Firefox all over again.

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9 CommentsComments

  1. Gravatar must be down Dustin Diaz

    Ugh. There are just so many things wrong with the new url bar, it’s nuts that you have to jump through all these holes. I’m glad they implemented a way to get the old algorithm. That’s all we really wanted.

  2. Gravatar must be down Gaurav Sharma

    Just stumbled upon your blog..i just got what i was looking for…
    I am a student editor to an upcoming magazine [online version for the time being] started by our college’s entrepreneurship club..
    So i need your permission to republish your post in our magazine.I assure that your name and back link to your blog will be published in author details.

  3. Gravatar must be down jittat


  4. Gravatar must be down PJ

    I’d hardly call it a fix to disable it – a fix would be to make it NOT SLOW.
    And Dustin Diaz, don’t say “we wanted” – you don’t speak for anyone but yourself.
    The new URLbar is brilliant if you aren’t afraid to actually try it out, it works fantastic.
    Except it can be slow on some machines – on mine its slow the first couple of minutes, I think something gets cached in memory, because then its fast and there is no problem – and it speeds up browsing by 500%.

    Of course if you only browse a few hours on sundays, a written list of addreses may be all you need.

  5. Gravatar must be down Patrick

    @PJ – It appears you didn’t actually read the post, as I clearly state “When this works, this feature is phenomenal, as I’ve seen it work on other computers. The response time is very fast, and the options to choose from are always relevant.” The problem I was having with the URL bar were extremely frustrating, and made using the browser nearly impossible.

    You personally may have experienced “slow”ness, however, I was experiencing “excruciatingly slow” response times. Perhaps I wasn’t clear in my explanation. Let me see if I can explain better here in this example:

    1. Type “w” (the first letter in www)
    2. wait 3 seconds
    3. Useless results appear
    4. The second “w” already typed now appears in the URL bar
    5. wait 3 seconds
    6. More useless results appear
    7. The third “w” already typed finally appears
    8. wait another 3 seconds

    You get the picture. This is why I was forced to find some sort of solution to the problem. And thanks to Dustin, I was able to circumvent the problem, NOT DISABLE it.

    I appreciate the comment, however, I would appreciate it if you would read the entire post next time.

  6. Gravatar must be down cherouvim

    Thanks! This feature is good but it is insanely terribly miserably slow.

    I’ll enable it again when I buy a new machine.

  7. Gravatar must be down San

    Thanks for this!!! I was almost about to throw my laptop on the wall!

  8. Gravatar must be down Sk

    could not find browser.urlbar.matchOnlyTyped in firefox 3.6

  9. Gravatar must be down Jordan Garn


    I tried to follow your steps but I can’t find the browser.urlbar.matchOnlyTyped Area, what could I be missing?

    I’m on Firefox 3.5.7

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