Feature request: Metasearch - search actions from a new search bar

An interesting UI pattern (inspired by browsers) is appearing more and more in various apps: a full text search interface for internal functionality. Think of the CTRL+SHIFT+P menu in VSCode, or the search bar in Blender:

Note that it shows the position of the action in the menus on the left, and the available keyboard shortcut on the right. I think this is a brilliant design, as it helps users achieve three things:

  1. Find features that you don’t often need without traversing menus (saves time instantly)
  2. Learn keyboard shortcuts: this UI should show keyboard shortcuts, if they exist for the action, and just by showing them users will learn to use them.
  3. Learn the (hierarchical) UI position of actions: similar to the keyboard shortcuts

I think it might be sensible to have a dedicated search feature in Firefox that works similar to the example shown above. It might also make sense to provide this interface to plugins, which means that it will become easier to find specific plugin actions.

I was considering suggesting making the actions available in the main search bar of Firefox (which makes sense, since it already searches everything), but I think its better to have a dedicated UI, shortcut and location for this functionality. It is conceptually very different, just as find in page is different from the top search bar. Besides, combining the results in one search bar will make hits often less relevant for both content search as action search.

The browser is the most important productivity app for most people, and firefox is the ultimate browser for powerusers.

Some usecases:

  • Quickly open specific dev tabs, or do specific things like disable javascript
  • Find specific actions in the preferences menu, such as clear cookies
  • Add a custom note for LastPass (this requires plugins accessing the interface, which I think would be pretty awesome)

Possible names:

  • Action search
  • Find action
  • Metasearch

Possible shortcuts (read CMD if you’re a mac user):

  • CTRL + / because / is quick find, and the combination isn’t used

I like this idea, but it’s challenging to think about all the different domains that need to be searched, from menus to preferences to support articles, how to keep it current in an era of rapid change, and how to localize it efficiently.

Over the years, Firefox has incorporated “tours” to introduce new and changed features. These might be useful to guide users in multi-step processes like clearing cookies and site data for the current site through the button at the bottom of the Site Info panel. However, I don’t know if tours can actually make changes, like the door hangers for enabling/disabling DNS-over-HTTPs, allowing newly installed extensions in private windows, etc., or whether some completely new mechanism needs to be built out.