After seriously giving Firefox 3 Beta 4 a try due to Safari 3.1 breaking the Shift key in Gmail (update: as kindly pointed out by some of my readers in the comments, it was Gmail that was broken, not Safari 3.1, doh), I've converted to using Firefox 3 Beta 4 as my primary browser. Before, I was using Firefox 2 as my main web browser, with a Safari window open for Gmail (because I tend to have around 50 tabs open in Firefox 2, and having Gmail among those tabs just kills Firefox 2's performance). So yes, I was using Safari 3 as a "Gmail browser", so to speak (in case you'd thought I'd defected from Firefox despite my history).

Anyway, enough with all that self-indulgent background - I'm writing this today to rave about how cool this one particular feature, auto-completion in the Location Bar (or the Address Bar, you know, where you type in URLs), in Firefox 3 is. Yes, you probably have already read about it and all the other neat new features and changes in Firefox 3, but I'd love to single out this one because it was the one thing I noticed that made browsing so much better when switching from Firefox 2.

So what is it? First, a screenshot of it in action:

Firefox 3 autocompletion in the Location Bar


Yup, typing into the Location Bar brings up a list of matched webpages from your browsing history. You can see from the screenshot that I entered "javascript" and it brought up not just URLs that started with "javascript" (which is the current Firefox 2 behavior), it also brought up URLs that contained "javascript" anywhere and even pages with titles containing "javascript".

What's the big deal? Well, one of the worst ("worst" being a relative adjective, relative to my opinion) things that can happen while looking for a page you once visited is forgetting its URL. If I'm lucky I can find it by bringing up the History sidebar in Firefox 2 and searching for it by some keyword or dredging through my browsing history.

In Firefox 3, I just need to type in some keywords related to the page and most likely it'd come up! Here's how I start posting a new blog entry to this very blog:

Firefox 3 search history by title in Location Bar


No need to type "blog.c" and then selecting the correct page from the dropdown while remembering that the new post page is "post-new.php". Less typing, no need to remember URLs. Just page titles and website names. If that isn't useful for you, "you're doing it wrong". What's more, Firefox 3 uses adaptive learning to keep an eye of what you've typed and what you select. After some time Firefox will learn from your choices and provide better suggestions in the autocomplete list. Sweet.

If you haven't tried out Firefox 3 yet, go grab the latest beta. And then come back to this blog to get Firefox 2 and 3 running at the same time. I'm quite sure you'll thank me for it (because this is not the only great feature in Firefox).

Update: Phil Wilson pointed to this extension for Firefox 2 that has the same auto-completion functionality.