Sunday, July 22, 2012

Why I turned off Firefox's inline autocomplete

Firefox's location bar inline autocomplete is, for me, the single most annoying aspect of Firefox 14. Here's a list of why I'm annoyed:
  1. Pressing tab navigates to the first dropped down suggestion. It has no relation whatsoever to the inline suggestion, contrary to appearances, and doesn't let me edit the URL before navigating to it. 
  2. Pressing backspace removes the inline suggestion, but doesn't erase an actual character that I've typed. This throws off touch typing
  3. When I'm typing a Google search, if Firefox thinks I made a typo, it adds ">>" followed by the "correct" search terms.  I've had false positives here, and pressing enter searches the whole thing, which I find confusing.  Maybe there's a "right" way to use this feature, but if that's the case, then in my opinion it's poorly afforded.  Or maybe Mozilla really thinks people want to search for both correct and incorrect terms.  I don't know.
  4. Pressing enter goes to the autocompleted URL or search terms, instead of whatever I actually typed.  Since I often type rather quickly, this frequently results in searches for the wrong keywords.
  5. If I want to edit the autocompleted URL (e.g. to add additional fragments to it), I have to press the right arrow.  This takes me off the home row.  It is intuitive to use tab for this purpose, but that does something entirely different (see point 1).
  6. Last I checked, I wasn't able to find any addons on AMO to address any of these issues.  It's as if the new autocomplete fell out of the sky one day.  The only addons I was able to find were all about adding inline autocomplete to older versions of Firefox.
I like Firefox, and use it as my primary browser.   But I see this as a major blemish, and I went to the trouble of disabling it completely.  Here's how:
  1. Go to about:config in the location bar (Blogger refuses to link to it, unfortunately).
  2. If Firefox warns you, click through the warning.
  3. Type browser.urlbar.autoFill in the Search box.
  4. Double click the first result.
  5. You're done!  No need to restart the browser or anything.