In Android Firefox, you can perform a search by typing directly into the address bar (aka the “awesome bar“). Results are provided by the default search engine, usually google.com. That’s fine, but you might prefer the results to come from a more local source, such as google.co.uk, or a completely different provider, such as bing.com.
Use the following procedure to change the default search engine in Android Firefox. “Awesome bar” searches will then be performed by your provider of choice.
Firefox is changing all the time. This procedure was tested on Firefox 66.0.5, running on Android 9 (Pie), and on Firefox 66.0.5 running on Android 7.1.1.
Visit your Search Engine
Open Firefox. Surf to the home page of your preferred search engine. For example, I want to use google.co.uk, so I opened a tab and went to google.co.uk.
Load the Desktop Site
Once the site page has loaded, click on (ie. touch) the three dots at the top right of Firefox. A drop down menu will appear. Click on “Settings”, then tick the “Request Desktop Site”. The page will reload, and it might look slightly different. You are looking at the desktop site.
Add the Search Engine to Firefox
Now, do a long long-touch the search box. That is to say, carefully touch the search box and hold your finger on it for a few seconds. A pop-up should appear, containing the words “ADD SEARCH ENGINE”. Click on the pop-up and a dialogue will appear. You can choose a name for the search engine here if you want (eg. I chose “Google UK”), or just take the default. Click “Ok” to add the search engine.
Set the Default Search Engine
Next, click on the three dots again to bring up the Firefox menu. Click on “Settings” and then click on “Search”. A list of search providers will appear, including the search engine you have just added. Click on your preferred provider then click “Set as Default”
Test the New Setting
Exit the Firefox settings. In any Firefox tab, type some words into the address bar to perform a search. Results should appear from your selected provider. Job done.
Restore Mobile Site Configuration
Any site you now visit will present its desktop page, rather than its mobile equivalent. This is due to the setting made above, and probably isn’t what you want. Proceed as follows. Open the Firefox menu again, by clicking on the three dots. Click on “Settings”, then click on “Request Desktop Site” to undo the setting. That is: make sure that “Request Desktop Site” in unchecked.
Sites will now load as the “mobile site” (or tablet site) once more.
It can be helpful for users when local providers fulfill their “awesome bar” searches. For example, UK users will often prefer google.co.uk, French users will get better results from google.fr, and google.co.in will be more suitable for those in India.
The “Request Desktop Site” setting was needed because the process doesn’t seem to work without it. When you long-touch the search box, the “Add Search Engine” fails to appear when in mobile/tablet mode. Only in “desktop” mode does it work. Not great, for a feature which is aimed at mobile users.
It is possible to add pretty much any search box on the Internet as a Firefox search engine. Even the one at the top of this page (please don’t!). Many people might prefer using duckduckgo.com as their default.