Recover hijacked default keyword search engine in Firefox
Earlier today I installed what I thought was an update to the Xvid codec in order to watch a video. I should have been more careful with the source, as their installer proceeded to modify my Firefox installation, adding some junk toolbar called “Start Now” and changing my default search engine to Bing.
(Sidebar: they can plead ignorance all they want, I’m certain the MS overlords are using every back-alley approach they can find to break the Google stranglehold.)
The toolbar was easy enough to remove, find it in the addons and push the “Remove” button. Changing my keyword search engine back proved a little more difficult.
A little background: the keyword search engine is the site that comes up when you type a word or phrase (not a URL) into the address bar (not the search bar). For example, if you open Firefox, enter “hot koehl”, and click go, you’ll likely end up on a Google search results page. I disable the search box entirely and use this method for almost all my searching. Very handy.
These asshats modified the Firefox configuration to send me to Bing without any warning or consent. To change it back, open a new tab and type
about:config in the address bar. Enter the phrase
keyword.url in the search bar that appears near the top.
The default is Google, so we can simply reset it by right-clicking the line and choosing the “Reset” option. Restart your browser and you should be good to go.
This type of adware typically modifies the search bar as well, so you should have a look at the config settings for
browser.search while you’re at it. Config entries appear in bold if they’ve been modified from the default value.
Further reading on Firefox’s
keyword functionality found over at mozillaZine.