Mozilla has added two new configurations to Firefox’s about:config menus with its latest nightly release. While the options are disabled by default, enabling them allows you to set a separate search engine for all of your private browsing sessions. The feature was first suggested two years ago on Mozilla’s Bugzilla; the idea had originally been floated by a partner before Mozilla decided to go ahead and implement it.
In recent releases of Firefox, Mozilla has added the Standard, Strict, and Custom privacy profiles. By default, Standard is the main option, but switching to private browsing causes the browser to use the Strict profile which offers more protection. Most new Firefox installations use Google out of the box, although that search engine isn’t overly concerned with privacy. With the in-development changes, users could use Google as their primary search engine and have something privacy-oriented like DuckDuckGo or Startpage (Ixquick) as their private browsing search option.
An interesting consideration raised by Techdows is the matter of search revenue. Google, has for years, been providing Mozilla with millions of dollars every year for making the search engine the default choice in Firefox. With the new feature, Mozilla has the opportunity to strike a similar deal with another search provider, bringing in even more revenue which it is currently trying to increase with premium enterprise support and the Firefox Private Network.
Turning on the new feature is easy. Install the latest Nightly build, then type ‘about:config’ in the URL bar, and accept the warning. In the search, type ‘browser.search.separatePrivateDefault’ and toggle ‘browser.search.separatePrivateDefault’ plus ‘browser.search.separatePrivateDefault.ui.enabled’ to true. From here, head to Preferences > Search and select your private browsing default search engine.
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