Once upon a time most web browsers had separate text fields for search and web addresses. But these days most take their cue from Google Chrome and feature a single text box that you can use to search the web or enter a URL, among other things.
Firefox has long been a holdout. But starting with Firefox 57, Mozilla’s open source web browser will no longer have a separate search box… at least not by default.
The update is part of a new user interface Mozilla calls Photon, and the decision to ditch the search bar is because it was largely redundant: you could already search using the location bar. So the dedicated search bar is basically just wasted space that could be used for other things.
Still, if you’d prefer to have a dedicated search box, you can still use it. If you’re upgrading to Firefox 57 from an earlier build, the search bar will stay in place (unless you’ve removed it manually). And if you set up a new installation of Firefox and don’t see the search bar, all you need to do is right-click on the space next to the location bar, choose customize, and then drag and drop search to the space where you’d like it to appear.
You’ll also be able to go into the Firefox preferences menu, select search, and then choose the option to “display additional search bar in toolbar” rather than a “single bar for searching and navigation.”
In the grand scheme of things, this is one of the smaller changes Firefox is undergoing this year, although it’s one that many people may find noticeable. Mozilla has also furthered efforts to turn Firefox into a multi-process web browser for enhanced performance and stability, and Firefox 57 will be the build that finally drops support for legacy plugins, something Mozilla has been working toward for a few years.