I like Google’s Chrome browser. I honestly do. It’s snappy fast, looks nice, and has a very cool app store. There are obviously things I do not like about the browser such as the inability for the Adblock Plus addon to block advertisements in videos. However, the biggest and most offending feature that drives me (along with what I’m sure to be a whole lot of other users) insane is the crappy thing Chrome calls the Omnibox. The Omnibox is Chrome’s address/search bar. I had no idea in the beginning how a browser’s implementation of an address bar can drive me nuts but indeed it has. I have gotten used to Firefox’s address bar, which is also very similar in features to the Omnibox, and loved how it works. When I started using Chrome, I couldn’t believe how some of the smartest software engineers on planet Earth can screw up something so simple. It’s just mind blowing and after many user complaints in Google’s own forum boards complaining of Omnibox issues, Google still refuses to fix the issues. Well luckily for now, I can say screw Google because a brilliant addon called Fauxbar has been released that aims to help users ditch Omnibox in favor for one that acts and behaves similar to that of Firefox.
The Problems with Omnibox
There are many things wrong with Omnibox and I will just go over briefly some of those issues.
Number of Returned Results
This has got to be one of the more infuriating issues in my personal opinion. You see, Google likes to predict what you will be searching for or what you meant to type after only seeing a few characters. However, Google doesn’t like to think it can be wrong. Therefore, it returns to us only a few result entries within Omnibox. Oh wait, those two or three results were not what you were looking for? Well, too bad. Either be more definitive in your search terms or just skip the Omnibox altogether and click on the damn bookmark itself in your bookmark library.
Trust me, I have a lot more Youtube bookmarks than what the picture below depicts yet Google only wants to show me a maximum of three:
Odd Searching Behavior
Another quite irritating behavior of the Omnibox is that you often get mixed results for the search terms you have entered. For example, I have two bookmarks with the word “face” in both the actual URL and on the title description. If I type the search term inside Omnibox, I am presented with two bookmarks but one of them is completely unrelated. Where is my other one? I have no idea how the search algorithm works but I am not happy with it at all. Coupled with the problem I mentioned above about the limited search results returned, the Omnibox is a pain to use. This problem can be fixed if you get a little more granular in your search terms. However, this can be a problem if you have a huge collection of bookmarks and can only remember a word or two of a specific bookmark.
I don’t know about how your eyes work but for me, Firefox’s bookmark display in the address bar is much more helpful than Chrome’s Omnibox:
Now I don’t know if the Omnibox or Chrome itself is to blame for this but why the heck won’t Google allow me to not store my search and browsing history data? Sure, they got Incognito Mode where these types of data are not stored but I find it sort of ridiculous to have to use Incognito Mode just to accomplish this feat. The worst part is, Omnibox wants to provide my search and browsing history as results! The only way to prevent that from happening is by clearing the data by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Del.
So you’re probably thinking I’m just a Chrome hater and that there’s nothing that Google can do to change my opinion. Well, that’s not necessarily true. Like I said earlier, I really like Chrome as a web browser. The reason why I’m writing this article is due to Firefox crashing on me so frequently that I’m considering using Chrome more often but then remembered why I was put off with it in the first place. Well, things are about to get a whole lot better due to an awesome addon for Chrome that helps to migrate the awesome Firefox address bar over to Chrome, sort of.
FauxbarYou can download Fauxbar by visiting the Chrome Web Store here.
Fauxbar is a free download for Chrome that aims to solve all the problems of Omnibox I mentioned above (I’m sure there’s more) by creating a new way for users to search for their bookmarks. Fauxbar does not entirely replace the default Omnibox within Chrome. Instead, it presents itself whenever you open a new tab or by pressing the Alt+D shortcut. Once installed, you will notice a new address and search bar (similar to Firefox) whenever you open a new tab. This address bar works surprisingly similar to how the address bar in Firefox works. The picture below is Fauxbar in action. At first glance, one may think I am using Firefox instead of Chrome.
Gone are the limited search results. Gone is the weird display of bookmark URL and site description all in one row. Gone is the weird search behavior. Basically speaking, it would seem as if Fauxbar magically imported over Firefox’s address bar over to Chrome! This is a godsend for users like me who just despise the Omnibox. With that being said, it does take a while to get use to the change. We are so used to just typing in search terms and for our bookmarks by heading into the address bar of a browser. However if we do that here, we will not be taking advantage of Fauxbar because Fauxbar only works when you open a new tab. There is still some good news here to be had:
- On any given website, you can usually call upon the Fauxbar by pressing the keyboard shortcut combination of Alt+D. Doing so will allow you to see the new tab page (where Fauxbar is located). Whatever site you were currently on will be taken over. This does take time getting used to because rather than just heading over to the address bar at the top, you now have to remember to press Alt+D first. It’s a slight inconvenience but I’ll gladly accept it if it means no more Omnibox. Of course, you can also press the traditional Ctrl+T combination to open a separate new blank tab.
- By default, opening a new tab (or when you press Alt+D) will automatically put the focus on Fauxbar. This allows you to quickly open a new tab and begin typing right away rather than having to first move the mouse cursor over Fauxbar.
- Technically, Fauxbar can take over Omnibox. This can be done by typing in the letter ‘f’ followed by a space in Omnibox. You can then enter in whatever search terms desired but Fauxbar would return the results, not Omnibox. The bad news about using this method is that you are once again limited in the quantity of the search results. It seems as if the Chrome developers don’t want users seeing so many search results being returned and so they limited other third party apps (such as Fauxbar) from doing the same as well.
- Fauxbar has a lot of options for you to customize it to your liking. For example, you can set how many results Fauxbar to display before you have to scroll for more.
My New Love for Chrome
I feel like what Adblock Plus did for me in switching over to Firefox is what Fauxbar is doing for me in switching over to Chrome. It’s surprising how a single addon can have such a major impact on a browser. Recently, Firefox and Thunderbird has been getting on my nerves for pushing so many updates out to its user base. However, it hasn’t reached the point of getting overwhelming, yet. I feel now is another good time to try and make something out of Chrome. Some might call it silly for dismissing a browser just because of the address bar but these people have to understand that everyone is different. Everyone works differently. Everyone can have something they hate while others love and vice-versa. To me, I hate the Omnibox with a passion. Fauxbar fixes everything. I would have liked for Fauxbar to entirely take over Omnibox but I honestly don’t think that’s possible.
My only wish now is that the developers of Chrome take into consideration some of the issues I have written about in this post. Again, I’m not the only one experiencing these so called issues and so I’m definitely not making them up. Google is trying very hard to predict what a user is thinking of but honestly speaking, I would rather for them to allow me to make the damn choice myself! Some would say that the Omnibox will be much more useful the more you use it. It gets to learn your typing patterns and what sites you go to the most. That definitely sounds very nice and all but once again, Google cannot 100% predict what a user wants. I just want to be able to search my bookmarks and nothing else. I don’t need to search over months and months of the previous searches I have made. Remember folks, sometimes it’s best to just keep it simple!Please help spread the word around about Fauxbar, especially to other Chrome users you know of that hates the Omnibox!