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How to Fix Search Not Working on Mozilla Firefox

Authored by:
Support.com Tech Pro Team
This Guided Path® was written and reviewed by Support.com’s Tech Pro team. With decades of experience, our Tech Pros are passionate about making technology work for you. We love feedback! Let us know what you think about this Guided Path® by rating it at the end.

Introduction

Searching the web is something we do every day. Whether you are searching from Firefox's address bar, or have its homepage set to take you to your favorite search engine's website instead, you've likely gotten accustomed to the way you search on a daily basis. If that search experience has suddenly changed seemingly without warning, that's a clear sign that something is messing with Firefox's settings without your knowledge or consent.

This guide will help you make sure Mozilla Firefox is configured properly so that your search experience returns to normal once again.
Close-up image of a browser's address bar.

1 Clear History and Saved Data

The first order of business is making sure that your browser is not holding onto some outdated or bad data in the form of an old cookie, cached version of the website it may be trying to load, etc. Clearing this data allows your browser to load the websites you're asking it to load freshly as if it had never been there before.

  1. Open Firefox, and select the Menu in the top-right corner.
    Mozilla Firefox
    Firefox browser with Menu highlighted
  2. Click on Options.
    Options highlighted
  3. Click on Privacy & Security.
    Privacy & Security highlighted
  4. Click the Clear History button located unther the History category.
    Clear History button highlighted
  5. Select the time range you wish to clear.
    Time range highlighted
  6. Click the Details button to expand them.
    Details expand button highlighted
  7. Choose the item categories you wish to clear.
    Item categories highlighted
    Setting Checkbox
    Browsing & Download History Checked

    Browsing History - While you browse Your browser will keep track of every page you visit, to try to make it easier to return. This can become corrupt due to modern active web pages.

    Download History - These are a list of files you've downloaded recently. It is entirely safe to delete, or keep this list, as it won't affect pages. Checking this option does not delete the files you've downloaded, just the list the browser keeps.

    Form & Search History Checked
    Information from entering forms online, such as your name, address, or other filled in information. This does not affect how a page loads, and can slow you down on your most commonly used pages.
    Cookies Checked
    Cookies are how websites 'know' you when you visit them multiple times. This file can become corrupt, and simply downloading a new one can fix many problems.
    You will have to log back into any pages you use, such as mail or social media.
    Active Logins Checked
    Active logins are sites that you are currently logged into that you have asked to remember that you are logged into. Clearing them just logs you out of these sites.
    Offline Website Data Unchecked
    If you've allowed it, a website can store files on your computer so that you can continue to use it when you are not connected to the Internet.
    Site Preferences Unchecked
    Site specific preferences, including the saved zoom level for sites, character encoding, and the permissions for sites.
     
  8. Click the Clear Now button.
    Clear Now button highlighted

2 Remove Problematic Extensions

Some browser extensions / addons can cause your browser to behave abnormally. Removing any unwanted, unnecessary, or unused browser extensions/addons can get your web browser running properly again.

  1. Open Firefox, and select the Menu in the top-right corner.
    Mozilla Firefox
    Firefox browser with Menu highlighted
  2. Click on Add-ons.
    Firefox menu with addons highlighted. Screenshot
  3. Click on Extensions on the left.
  4. The following steps can be repeated to remove multiple browser extensions.
    • Then click on Remove for the extension you want to remove.
      Extensions menu with Remove highlighted. Screenshot
      • If you accidentally removed something, click on Undo.
        Undo highlighted. Screenshot
    • You might get a new tab pop up upon removal, close the tab by hitting the X.
      Survey windows. Screenshot
      Browser Tab with X highlighted. Screenshot

It is a good idea to restart your browser to complete the removal of extensions. If you removed a malicious extension, there's a chance it may have changed your homepage settings.

3 Remove Potentially Unwanted Programs

Example of a PUP installing a search bar

Potentially unwanted programs, or "PUPs", often arrive bundled with your computer or can tag along with another software program you meant to install. Most times, they are snuck into the EULA as a "Recommended Offer" that many of us are so accustomed to just click right through. Lots of these types of programs end up being junkware that your computer will not benefit from. Unfortunately, some of these programs can add unwanted browser toolbars or extensions that can clutter your browser, track your web browsing, show additional advertisements, or change your search page and other related settings. Usually, unless these types of programs are removed, they will continue causing issues with your web browsing experience.

If your machine has any software such as this installed, the following instructions will help you remove them from your Windows PC or Mac computer.

Remove PUPs from Windows 10
Using Windows 10 Settings
  1. Click Start (1), then click Settings (2).
    Windows start menu with the start button and settings highlighted.
  2. Next, Select Apps.
    Windows Settings with Apps highlighted.
  3. Scroll down and locate the app you wish to remove, and click on Uninstall.
    Apps screen with the uninstall option for an app highlighted.
  4. Carefully read any prompts in case there are special instructions. Proceed until the application is removed.
  5. Some applications may require that you reboot.
Using the Control Panel
  1. On your keyboard push and release the Windows Key and R at the same time.
    PC Desktop Keyboard with Windows key and R highlighted.
  2. You will see a Run window open up. Type in appwiz.cpl then click on OK.
    Run windows with appwiz.cpl typed and OK highlighted. Screenshot
  3. Locate a program you wish to remove within the list, click once on it to highlight it, then click on Uninstall.
    Uninstall window with program and uninstall highlighted. Screenshot
  4. Carefully read any prompts in case there are special instructions. Proceed until the application is removed.
  5. Some applications may require that your computer be restarted to complete the uninstallation.
Remove PUPs from a Mac Computer
Remove Apps from the App Store
  1. Open the Launchpad from the dock.
    Launchpad highlighted
  2. Click and hold on an icon until all icons start to jiggle.
    Shaking icon
  3. Click the "x" on the top left of the icon you want to remove.
    X highlighted
  4. Click Delete to confirm removal.
    Delete button highlighted
Manually remove any other App
  1. Open the Finder from the dock.
    Finder highlighted on the dock
  2. Click on Applications on the left.
    Application highlighted
  3. Drag the app you wish to remove to the trash can.
    Drag app to the trashcan
  4. Right click on the trashcan and click Empty Trash.
    Empty Trash highlighted

Test your browser after removing any PUPs from your machine. This may require you to restart your browser or your computer beforehand depending on what was removed.

4 Verify All Mozilla Firefox Settings

If your search experience hasn't returned to normal, the next step is to verify that all Firefox settings are where they should be in order to provide you with the search experience you're familiar with. If any settings were previously 'hijacked' by a malicious extension and were not reverted back to what they were originally set to, your search experience may still not be right.
Using a Windows PC
  1. Open Firefox.
    Mozilla Firefox
  2. Enter about:plugins into address bar and hit enter, then review your plug-ins and remove any that are malicious.
    Firefox plugins
  3. Enter about:addons into the address bar and hit enter, then click Extensions.
    Firefox extensions
  4. Review your extensions and determine if any are malicious. Remove those that are.
  5. Click the Menu button in the top right of the screen.
    Firefox browser with Menu highlighted
  6. Click Options.
    Firefox menu showing options selected
  7. Click Home. If you have a custom URL set verify it is not malicious.
    Firefox homepage settings
  8. Click the Start Menu.
    Windows 10 Start Menu.
  9. Search for Firefox and right-click the result.
  10. Select Open File Location
    Firefox right click menu within windows 10
  11. Right-click the Firefox shortcut and select Properties.
    Firefox right click menu
  12. Click the Shortcut tab and verify that the Target only contains the path "C:\Program Files (x86)\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe" with nothing after it. Click OK when done.
    Firefox shortcut properties
  13. Open Firefox and verify your homepage is correct.
Using a Mac Computer
  1. Open Firefox.
    Mozilla Firefox
  2. Click on the three lines in the upper right hand corner.
    Firefox with 3 lines highlighted. Screenshot
  3. Click on Preferences.
    Firefox menu with Preferences highlighted. Screenshot
  4. Click on Home. If there is a custom URL you do not want, you can change it. When done you can close Firefox.
    Firefox Settings menu with Home and Custom URL highlighted. Screenshot

Still having issues?

Unfortunately, it looks like your search page issue cannot be resolved via basic troubleshooting steps. We recommend your machine be serviced by a professional to determine the root cause of your search issues.

We're here to help!

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Searching the web is something we do every day. Whether you are searching from Firefox's address bar, or have its homepage set to take you to your favorite search engine's website instead, you've likely gotten accustomed to the way you search on a daily basis. If that search experience has suddenly changed seemingly without warning, that's a clear sign that something is messing with Firefox's settings without your knowledge or consent.

This guide will help you make sure Mozilla Firefox is configured properly so that your search experience returns to normal once again.
Close-up image of a browser's address bar.

The first order of business is making sure that your browser is not holding onto some outdated or bad data in the form of an old cookie, cached version of the website it may be trying to load, etc. Clearing this data allows your browser to load the websites you're asking it to load freshly as if it had never been there before.

  1. Open Firefox, and select the Menu in the top-right corner.
    Mozilla Firefox
    Firefox browser with Menu highlighted
  2. Click on Options.
    Options highlighted
  3. Click on Privacy & Security.
    Privacy & Security highlighted
  4. Click the Clear History button located unther the History category.
    Clear History button highlighted
  5. Select the time range you wish to clear.
    Time range highlighted
  6. Click the Details button to expand them.
    Details expand button highlighted
  7. Choose the item categories you wish to clear.
    Item categories highlighted
    Setting Checkbox
    Browsing & Download History Checked

    Browsing History - While you browse Your browser will keep track of every page you visit, to try to make it easier to return. This can become corrupt due to modern active web pages.

    Download History - These are a list of files you've downloaded recently. It is entirely safe to delete, or keep this list, as it won't affect pages. Checking this option does not delete the files you've downloaded, just the list the browser keeps.

    Form & Search History Checked
    Information from entering forms online, such as your name, address, or other filled in information. This does not affect how a page loads, and can slow you down on your most commonly used pages.
    Cookies Checked
    Cookies are how websites 'know' you when you visit them multiple times. This file can become corrupt, and simply downloading a new one can fix many problems.
    You will have to log back into any pages you use, such as mail or social media.
    Active Logins Checked
    Active logins are sites that you are currently logged into that you have asked to remember that you are logged into. Clearing them just logs you out of these sites.
    Offline Website Data Unchecked
    If you've allowed it, a website can store files on your computer so that you can continue to use it when you are not connected to the Internet.
    Site Preferences Unchecked
    Site specific preferences, including the saved zoom level for sites, character encoding, and the permissions for sites.
     
  8. Click the Clear Now button.
    Clear Now button highlighted

Some browser extensions / addons can cause your browser to behave abnormally. Removing any unwanted, unnecessary, or unused browser extensions/addons can get your web browser running properly again.

  1. Open Firefox, and select the Menu in the top-right corner.
    Mozilla Firefox
    Firefox browser with Menu highlighted
  2. Click on Add-ons.
    Firefox menu with addons highlighted. Screenshot
  3. Click on Extensions on the left.
  4. The following steps can be repeated to remove multiple browser extensions.
    • Then click on Remove for the extension you want to remove.
      Extensions menu with Remove highlighted. Screenshot
      • If you accidentally removed something, click on Undo.
        Undo highlighted. Screenshot
    • You might get a new tab pop up upon removal, close the tab by hitting the X.
      Survey windows. Screenshot
      Browser Tab with X highlighted. Screenshot

It is a good idea to restart your browser to complete the removal of extensions. If you removed a malicious extension, there's a chance it may have changed your homepage settings.

Example of a PUP installing a search bar

Potentially unwanted programs, or "PUPs", often arrive bundled with your computer or can tag along with another software program you meant to install. Most times, they are snuck into the EULA as a "Recommended Offer" that many of us are so accustomed to just click right through. Lots of these types of programs end up being junkware that your computer will not benefit from. Unfortunately, some of these programs can add unwanted browser toolbars or extensions that can clutter your browser, track your web browsing, show additional advertisements, or change your search page and other related settings. Usually, unless these types of programs are removed, they will continue causing issues with your web browsing experience.

If your machine has any software such as this installed, the following instructions will help you remove them from your Windows PC or Mac computer.

Remove PUPs from Windows 10
Using Windows 10 Settings
  1. Click Start (1), then click Settings (2).
    Windows start menu with the start button and settings highlighted.
  2. Next, Select Apps.
    Windows Settings with Apps highlighted.
  3. Scroll down and locate the app you wish to remove, and click on Uninstall.
    Apps screen with the uninstall option for an app highlighted.
  4. Carefully read any prompts in case there are special instructions. Proceed until the application is removed.
  5. Some applications may require that you reboot.
Using the Control Panel
  1. On your keyboard push and release the Windows Key and R at the same time.
    PC Desktop Keyboard with Windows key and R highlighted.
  2. You will see a Run window open up. Type in appwiz.cpl then click on OK.
    Run windows with appwiz.cpl typed and OK highlighted. Screenshot
  3. Locate a program you wish to remove within the list, click once on it to highlight it, then click on Uninstall.
    Uninstall window with program and uninstall highlighted. Screenshot
  4. Carefully read any prompts in case there are special instructions. Proceed until the application is removed.
  5. Some applications may require that your computer be restarted to complete the uninstallation.
Remove PUPs from a Mac Computer
Remove Apps from the App Store
  1. Open the Launchpad from the dock.
    Launchpad highlighted
  2. Click and hold on an icon until all icons start to jiggle.
    Shaking icon
  3. Click the "x" on the top left of the icon you want to remove.
    X highlighted
  4. Click Delete to confirm removal.
    Delete button highlighted
Manually remove any other App
  1. Open the Finder from the dock.
    Finder highlighted on the dock
  2. Click on Applications on the left.
    Application highlighted
  3. Drag the app you wish to remove to the trash can.
    Drag app to the trashcan
  4. Right click on the trashcan and click Empty Trash.
    Empty Trash highlighted

Test your browser after removing any PUPs from your machine. This may require you to restart your browser or your computer beforehand depending on what was removed.

If your search experience hasn't returned to normal, the next step is to verify that all Firefox settings are where they should be in order to provide you with the search experience you're familiar with. If any settings were previously 'hijacked' by a malicious extension and were not reverted back to what they were originally set to, your search experience may still not be right.
Using a Windows PC
  1. Open Firefox.
    Mozilla Firefox
  2. Enter about:plugins into address bar and hit enter, then review your plug-ins and remove any that are malicious.
    Firefox plugins
  3. Enter about:addons into the address bar and hit enter, then click Extensions.
    Firefox extensions
  4. Review your extensions and determine if any are malicious. Remove those that are.
  5. Click the Menu button in the top right of the screen.
    Firefox browser with Menu highlighted
  6. Click Options.
    Firefox menu showing options selected
  7. Click Home. If you have a custom URL set verify it is not malicious.
    Firefox homepage settings
  8. Click the Start Menu.
    Windows 10 Start Menu.
  9. Search for Firefox and right-click the result.
  10. Select Open File Location
    Firefox right click menu within windows 10
  11. Right-click the Firefox shortcut and select Properties.
    Firefox right click menu
  12. Click the Shortcut tab and verify that the Target only contains the path "C:\Program Files (x86)\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe" with nothing after it. Click OK when done.
    Firefox shortcut properties
  13. Open Firefox and verify your homepage is correct.
Using a Mac Computer
  1. Open Firefox.
    Mozilla Firefox
  2. Click on the three lines in the upper right hand corner.
    Firefox with 3 lines highlighted. Screenshot
  3. Click on Preferences.
    Firefox menu with Preferences highlighted. Screenshot
  4. Click on Home. If there is a custom URL you do not want, you can change it. When done you can close Firefox.
    Firefox Settings menu with Home and Custom URL highlighted. Screenshot

Still having issues?

Unfortunately, it looks like your search page issue cannot be resolved via basic troubleshooting steps. We recommend your machine be serviced by a professional to determine the root cause of your search issues.