Smart Address Bar is a free Web browser add-on that turns your address bar into a search tool. "My address bar is already a search tool," you say? Ours too, but we were a little surprised to find that Smart Address Bar made actual improvements. We tried Smart Address Bar for Firefox in Firefox 9x. While we were trying it, Firefox 10 came out, but Smart Address Bar handled the update fine.
As with other Firefox add-ons, activating Smart Address Bar requires restarting Firefox, which is easy enough to do without losing any open pages. Smart Address Bar's add-ons manager page contains basic documentation as well as a Web link and update options. But it needs no explanation to use: Simply type the first few letters of your search term in the address field, and Smart Address Bar starts displaying increasingly specific results in a drop-down list view, with the search terms highlighted and underlined. This method has several advantages, such as brevity, since you often find your site with just a few letters. But it also tends to find things you might not look for: Not-so-close misspellings, for example, or a related word you've never seen before, or the very site you were looking for but didn't know existed. We tried a variety of our favorite searches in Firefox with and without Smart Address Bar, using Google as our default search engine. Smart Address Bar grouped results by search terms, and clicking on an entry opened a more detailed page of results, if we selected it, or directly opened Web pages, since the add-on's searches not only returned hits online but also from our rather large collection of bookmarks.
Mozilla's effort to retool Firefox and recapture ground lost to Chrome and other browsers raises the bar for add-ons, which became like barnacles on a racing sloop's hull to the former champ. Whether Smart Address Bar makes the cut in your system is a matter of personal preference. We think it's definitely worth a look.