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Address Bars and Search Boxes

There’s occasionally some confusion about which of the two boxes found at the top of browsers is which. One is the search box, the other is the address bar. While these tools in more recent versions of most browsers provide more flexibility than earlier models, each still serves a specific purpose.

Below, you can see examples of 3 popular browser toolbars. In all 3, the address bar is to the left, the search box, to the right.

Internet Explorer 8



If you type or copy the entire URL (internet address) into an address bar and hit the Enter key, or click the button generally found to the right of the address bar field, you’ll be taken directly to the website to which this address is assigned. If you repeat this process in the search box, the website you’re searching for will probably be first on a search list, but you’ll have to click on that link to complete the connection. If you don’t know the exact URL of the website you wish to visit, typing a topic into a search box will help you locate the site. Also, if you’re not attempting to reach a specific site, you can use this tool to perform a general search. For example, if someone tomorrow searches for “the difference between an address bar and a search box”, a link to this article should show up in the list.

To determine which is which, just look for the URL in the field. The internet address for whatever website you’re visiting (for example, http://www.worldstart.com/) will be showing in the address bar. In the search box, an icon of the default search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo! Search, etc.) will generally be displayed to the left.

Of course, if additional toolbars have been installed (Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, etc.), there may be many fields where searches can be performed. Although these can be easily removed, leaving only the default browser toolbar.

The future of these dual fields may be about to change however, with the advent of a single box in which either a URL or search can be typed. Chrome uses what they call the “omnibox” and the beta version of Internet Explorer 9 followed suit with “One Box”, both of which combine the functions of the address bar and search box.


I hope this helps clear up any confusion. Enjoy your browsing.