Firefox Search Bar tricks, changing the default Firefox search from US to UK

I’m a bit of a Firefox fan, despite the fact the browser seems to render colours with less saturation. One of the very nice things I like is the search bar at the top right, which contains links through to some of the most frequently used search engines. You can customise the list easily enough, but you can’t customise the default search locations… or can you?

Normally, I like to search UK domains first, particularly when looking for a price or simply heading towards eBay or Amazon. I don’t mind the US versions, but I don’t head there by default. Until today I have been stuck with using ‘UK’ in every search term. Today, however, I decided to investigate it further.

Using a Mac, go to the Firefox application, control+click on it and select ‘Show Package Contents’ . Next, navigate to ‘MacOS/searchplugins’. In there you’ll find some simple XML files which are readily editable. I opened the Google, Amazon and eBay files and changed the settings manually from ‘.com’ to ‘’. You can also change the title so that in the search bar it tells you where you are looking, too! A quick restart of Firefox and the new settings are in place.


Each time I search Google now, I default to the ‘’ version and get the option of looking at the entire web, or simply pages from the UK. I’m happy with that! Similarly, Amazon now defaults to the UK site, as does eBay. Oh Joy 🙂

Of course, I fully expect an update will wipe out those changes, so a quick save of the files for later use is also necessary…

7 thoughts on “Firefox Search Bar tricks, changing the default Firefox search from US to UK

  • 7 March, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    Do you know how to do this for Windoze?

  • 7 March, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    Hi Nat – yes, it’s pretty much the same thing in windows as on the mac, surprisingly. The search engine plugins are located here:

    C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\searchplugins

    all you do is find the one you want – I chose Google – and edit the XML file. For example. I changed the file to read ‘’ everywhere it said ‘com’ and for fun I changed the short name near the top of the file to read ‘GoogleHM’, which now shows up in the search engine list and also in the search box when it doesn’t have focus.

    As ever – keep a copy of the default file before changing anything, so you can at least revert back if it all goes horribly wrong!

  • 12 March, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    Thanks for this, it’s been driving me nuts for a while in ubuntu and this gave me the clue I needed.

    For anyone who wants to know the location of the xml files in linux (ubuntu, at least) they live in /usr/lib/firefox-addons/searchplugins

    I started by editing the eBay.xml file changing the tag but it didn’t work, so maybe there’s more to it than that. Rather than mess about for ever, I renamed the searchplugins folder to searchplugins.old in my linux box and copied the same folder from a Vista installation on my laptop to my linux box. (In Vista all the search engines defaulted to t from the start). This did the trick, minimum of fuss.

  • 29 March, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    Thanks, works perfect on XP.

  • 12 August, 2009 at 10:56 am

    Thanks a lot. Worked like a dream.

  • 29 November, 2010 at 10:21 am

    Thanks so much for this – it’s been driving me mad for ages, and I’m so pleased not to have to search, then change the url manually from com to, then search again – which is what you need to do to get accurate results!

  • 16 March, 2012 at 8:23 am

    Thanks! What a relief to have searches defaulting to UK again.

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