Make The Firefox Search Box Give You Australian Google Results

The search box in Firefox is a handy tool for finding information, but if (like most of us), you're using it to access Google, you may not get quite the results you expect. Here's how to fix your Firefox for a more Australian emphasis.

If you've never bothered using the search box, you're definitely missing out. Click in the box (it's on the right-hand side of the address bar) and type a search term. Click on the magnifying glass, and you'll automatically get results for that search from Google. You can speed the process up by using the keyboard: type Control-K or Control-E to access the search box, type your term and then press enter.

You can use a variety of search engines by clicking on the drop-down list to the right of the box (and add more if you wish via Firefox's add-ons function), but the default option is Google, and that's what most people tend to use.

However, when you perform a search using the search box, the query goes via Google's main site, which is aimed at US users. Google's local site, google.com.au, gives different results, based on the search habits of Australians. If you type google.com into a PC connected to an Australian ISP, you're automatically redirected to the Australian site.

Does that matter? It partly depends on the subject you're researching. For instance, if you type 'Melbourne' as a search term, both the US and Australian sites mostly return results about Victoria's capital city:

However, the American site does include flight schedules for Melbourne, Florida on the first page:

Similarly, if you search for 'cricket' via the Australian site, the entire first page is dedicated to leather-on-willow, including up-to-date match scores:

From the search box, the second result is for US mobile broadband provider Cricket Wireless, and there's no scores in sight:

Note that this is not the same as choosing the 'pages from Australia' option from Google's left-hand column (which used to appear as a front-page option before Google's recent redesign). A general search will include pages from around the web, but the priority will be different depending on your location. That is one of the limitations of the search box though — a search conducted from there won't include the 'pages from Australia' option.

Despite this limitation, this split can be quite useful — you can use the search box for generalised searches and then type google.com.au (or google.com) into the address bar when you want a more localised search. However, if you'd prefer a purely local search experience, you can modify Firefox so that the search box delivers Australia-centric results.

The fix is pretty simple: just visit the Mycroft Project site, and click on the link labelled 'Google AU — the Web'. (The link labelled 'Google AU - pages from Australia' will add a search box option purely for Australian pages, should you find that useful.) Click on 'Add' in the dialog box that appears; you can also select 'Start using it right away' if you want this to be your main search.

You can now choose between the general Google search and the Google Australia search by clicking on the drop-down menu, depending on circumstances.

This is only an issue in Firefox, by the way: Internet Explorer 8, Chrome and Safari all send queries via Google's Australian server when you use their search box. (The same Mycroft site might be useful if you want to change that behaviour, however.)

Lifehacker 101 is a weekly feature covering fundamental techniques that Lifehacker constantly refers to, explaining them step-by-step. Hey, we were all newbies once, right?


Comments

    I achieved the same by editing the existing search fields. A bit more work but the outcome is exactly the same as if navigating to Google.com.au and doing the search from there.

    To change the search box entry, navigate to "searchplugins"in the Firefox installation folder. (In OSX: /applications/firefox.app/Contents/MacOS/searchplugins). Open the "google.xml" file in your favourite text editor.

    In this xml file you will find three google URL's. Change the LAST two to ".au" addresses and you're away. Do not change the first URL as this will break the Google suggest function.

    Australianising the Google function in the location bar is even easier. Navigate to "about:config" and change the Google entry in "keyword.URL" to a ".au" address.

    In all cases, do not change the URLS other than adding the .au at the end of google.com

    Great tip. Finally working. I tried updating the XML but this never worked on mine for some reason...

    Thanks to LH and Tim's comments too!

    Since we are on the topic, I think the most useful part of the search box engines is the "keywords".You can define a keyword for each engine (for example, I use "g" for google, "w" for wikipedia, "u" for urban dictionary, "r" for rotten tomatoes, "k" for kickass torrents etc).

    Then you type that keyword into the address bar followed by your search terms, and then firefox will use that engine with those terms and return the results (eg. "w jessica watson" to search wikipedia for jessica watson or "r ironman2" to search rotten tomatoes for ironman2).

    You define these by choosing "manage search engines" from the drop down inteh searchbox.

      Keywords are great. It's worth pointing out you can set up a keyword for just about ANY search on the internet, simply by right-clicking in a search field and choosing "Add a keyword for this search".

      I *think* this only works for searches where you can perform the search by hitting enter after entering text.

    Gee, I always thought Canberra was Australia's capital. Angus wouldn't be from Melbourne by any chance, would he?

      Err, no I wouldn't :-) I used Melbourne because for many people in the US, it's a place in Florida and that affects the results; I suspect Canberra wouldn't produce the same degree of variation.

    I got the same result by installing the "Add to Search Bar" add on, then navigating to google.com.au. I have also been able to add Lifehacker and Ebay to my search options, among others.

    I work for an Australian company that runs the internets through head office in the US, and we get a choice of IE...or IE. So none of this works for me - and I get all the US ads on aussie sites. Anyone know how to get .au default searches back again? Not great when a major part of my job is online searching.

    Hey folks,

    I work with the search localization team at Google and we've been working hard to try and understand when users accidentally end up at the wrong domain (i.e. google.com instead of google.com.au). Some browsers now have native support for slurping the right google domain to send traffic to (Opera, Chrome), while others are still hitting redirect code on search request (IE, Firefox, Safari).

    Our understanding is that Firefox shouldn't behave differently from other browsers (e.g. IE, Safari) unless there's some changes in proxy settings, different cookie preferences (i.e. search on Google.com), or some other wackiness. What I'm seeing here is that people are getting different behavior from the same machine with different browsers?

    Trystan

      Hi Trystan, Yes, definitely in my case. Firefox search box always goes through .com rather than .com.au (unless the tricks here are followed). No issues with IE, Safari or Chrome on the same machine. I don't have any unusual proxy settings or cookies set, and Firefox has behaved this way for as long as I can remember -- certainly for several years and over several different PCs.

        Awesome -- we'll look into it on our end.

        Either way it's still a great tip. Avoiding google.com on the client side saves an extra request / redirect bounce (and valuable milliseconds).

    THANKS!! :)

    Google have made it more difficult to get just AU results - in 2013 things have changed and even if you choose google.com.au you will get US results mixed with AU results - now you have to go through more hoops to get only Aus results.
    Above the search results click on search tools, then pages from any country, then from Aus only - what a process just to get Aus results

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