Thursday, September 17, 2009


While discussing privacy and Firefox 3.5 with Chris a couple weeks ago, we stumbled upon the thought that people might want to be able to select which bookmarks show up when they're given automatic suggestions in Firefox 3's Awesome Bar. This discussion really started with a bit of public metrics and discussion in the blogosphere.

In mid August, Ken Kovash wrote about reasons users gave for not upgrading from Firefox 2 to Firefox 3.0. The number one reason was, surprisingly, the Awesome Bar. Without going into detail, the gist was that people didn't really want certain bookmarks to show up when they start typing URLs.

Perhaps the settings weren't obvious enough, but users can set the awesome bar to search only bookmarks, only history, both, or neither (Alex Faaborg discussed it in June, in fact).

Here's the use case: Bob bookmarks a couple porn sites, then during a public presentation, he starts typing "www" in the URL bar. His porn sites show up in the suggestion list, and everyone in the audience gasps.

The work-arounds for this I see are:

  1. Use a separate browser for "private" sites.
  2. Use a separate Firefox profile for browsing "private" sites.
  3. Use Private Browsing when browsing "private" sites (but then you can't bookmark the sites).
  4. Turn off bookmarks and/or history searching for awesome bar.

But maybe this isn't good enough for everyone. Some folks might want to just hide a couple of bookmarks from the awesome bar. We need a way to make certain bookmarks "not awesome" so they won't show up.

Enter bookmark tags... you can add tags to bookmarks to find them easily. Why not tag bookmarks with "notawesome", then somehow hide those from the awesome bar search?

On a whim, I hacked together a quick addon to do this: notawesome!

lifehacker picked up on this (dunno how they found it buried in AMO), and apparently some folks find it useful.

To those 800 people using it already: thanks for trying it out, and your comments! I'll see if I can find some time to make it better. If anyone else wants to hack on it, let me know...


Anonymous said...

Cool. You could try nsIAnnotationService to block history as well, not just bookmarks.

David said...

Are you going to try to get this incorporated into Firefox?

Another idea: it’s already possible to limit what shows up in the results by prefixing your search with certain characters (‘*’, for example, to restrict the results to bookmarks). How about adding another keyword, say ‘-’, to disable the awesomebar entirely for that particular search? It seems like the simplest solution for when someone else is looking.

Christopher said...

Excellent idea. I would love to see something like this for Weave as well. That way, the "private" bookmarks would never get on my work computer in the first place.

Mohan Arun L said...

I have tons of bookmarks - I always export all the bookmarks every Sunday and archive to a searching program so it can be backed up and found when searched/needed. I cant imagine why anybody would keep lots of bookmarks so they show up in the awesome bar, because hard drives can fail, all bookmarks can go down the toilet in a second.

Anonymous said...

NotAwesome Add-On has been erased from Mozilla webpage. Could you restore it? Or there are another way to get this great add? I used it for a time but I have problem and format my pc and now I can`t intall it.

Excuse my bad english. I am argentinian.

Sid Stamm said...

I've discontinued development of not-awesome due to lack of time (if anyone wants to take over development, let me know). As a result, it's expired and has been removed from

You can still get it here:

Anonymous said...

Really thanks you