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What Firefox defines as 'search history', surprising

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mikeymike

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Post Posted August 15th, 2018, 5:06 am

I wanted to disable an annoying feature / potential security hole in my Firefox configuration being that when I go on say online banking, it offers to fill in my user ID. I don't want this information being stored by Firefox, because logically if it's being stored then it can be potentially retrieved in an unauthorised fashion.

I started by going into Firefox's Options UI, but the only option I could find was 'remember search & form history' (ticked by default). To me this reads as if unticking this box is going to partly achieve what I want (FF no longer remembering form history) but also that the address bar (where I do about 95% of my search engine queries) would lose the ability to show me suggestions based on my past search queries (observing the distinction between that and generic search engine suggestions from <search engine company> based on autocomplete / what other people search for).

However, I unticked 'remember search & form history' and it's basically done exactly what I want (my user ID is no longer a form-fill suggestion when I go on my online banking site), and the address bar still remembers my past search queries.

I have the feeling that Firefox refers to 'search history' being "going on a search engine site and typing in a search query" which logically is just remembering form completion data. IMO the wording is misleading.

Putting aside my impression of the wording / mis-wording, is my understanding correct about what that feature actually does? Furthermore, by unticking 'remember form & search history', does that stop Firefox from storing form completion data or does it continue to store that data but not use that data to offer to fill in forms for me?

Grumpus

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Post Posted August 15th, 2018, 7:42 am

If you look at the settings button to the right of the Clear History on Close selection in /edit/preferences/Privacy & Security/
a list or small panel should show what is cleared when you close Firefox, this may help.
You may also want to check Forms and Passwords as this may affect the automatic use of passwords on oft visited sites.
If forms in general are an issue you can open about:config, type "formauto" in the search text entry and a number of form related items will show.
Same for typing in just "form."
Make sure you keep written notes

jscher2000

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Post Posted August 19th, 2018, 9:12 pm

mikeymike wrote:I have the feeling that Firefox refers to 'search history' being "going on a search engine site and typing in a search query" which logically is just remembering form completion data. IMO the wording is misleading.

No, that's not it. In Firefox, Search History refers to what you enter into a Firefox search bar, such as the one on the new tab page or the classic search bar that is no longer included on the main toolbar in new installs. When you have search suggestions enabled, history entries have a little clock icon to distinguish them from search engine suggestions. If you disabled search suggestions or don't use any of Firefox's search bars for searching, then you may never have seen those search history entries.

jscher2000

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Post Posted August 19th, 2018, 9:14 pm

mikeymike wrote:Furthermore, by unticking 'remember form & search history', does that stop Firefox from storing form completion data or does it continue to store that data but not use that data to offer to fill in forms for me?


Remember = store. Unchecking remember means not storing (as well as not suggesting).

mikeymike

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Post Posted August 25th, 2018, 9:25 am

jscher2000 wrote:
mikeymike wrote:I have the feeling that Firefox refers to 'search history' being "going on a search engine site and typing in a search query" which logically is just remembering form completion data. IMO the wording is misleading.

No, that's not it. In Firefox, Search History refers to what you enter into a Firefox search bar, such as the one on the new tab page or the classic search bar that is no longer included on the main toolbar in new installs. When you have search suggestions enabled, history entries have a little clock icon to distinguish them from search engine suggestions. If you disabled search suggestions or don't use any of Firefox's search bars for searching, then you may never have seen those search history entries.


Thanks for your responses. I had forgotten about the extra search box as the main bar does what I need the vast majority of the time.

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