How I enter URLs in my browser
September 21, 2012
One of my browser peculiarities is that in my primary browser I never type URLs in the address bar or otherwise modify the URL there; it's strictly read-only. I think that this goes back to when Firefox (or perhaps at the time it was Mozilla) acquired its first and terribly bad version of address bar autocompletion support, but the habit may even have predated that. Firefox has been doing things with hand-entered URLs that irritate me for a very long time.
My substitute has been a series of graphical widgets that I call up, enter a URL, and they bring up browser window for that URL (usually through Firefox remote control). The first version was a little TK program that I started from a window manager menu entry. The current version is part of my dmenu setup and is extremely fast to use; I hit F5, type the URL, hit return, and I'm done.
What this lacks is autocompletion, but another of my peculiarities is that I historically haven't liked the URL autocompletion that browsers do. Partly this is because many of the URLs that I enter by hand are URLs that I'm using for the first time and may never use again; throwing them in autocompletion results is just annoying clutter.
(Similarly bad things happen from mining my browser history for URL autocompletion, especially since I have a very, very big browser history. If I remember right, that was one of the problems with early versions of Firefox address bar autocompletion.)
Another answer is that if I ever want to use the address bar, it's only a keystroke away. Ctrl-L focuses the address bar and selects all of its current text, so you can do Ctrl-L and start typing to get the same effect as a focused and empty address bar. Ctrl-L is also a good way to get the current URL from the address bar in order to paste it into something else, such as an email message.
(Not that I usually remember this when I need to copy the URL out.)
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