Disable All Firefox Address and Search Bar Suggestions

The classic Firefox desktop browser had by default a separate address bar for navigation and a search bar for search.

This however changed with Firefox 57 (Quantum) which introduced the option for a unified bar that combines the address and search bar into one. Mozilla calls it the Awesome Bar. Nevertheless, in the Search Settings one has the option to use the separate bars.
firefox address search bar
Firefox Address and Search Bars

Now beside this change, the behaviour of the bars hasn't changed. Firefox still shows suggestions whenever you start typing anything in either bars. The suggestions may be fetched from the following five sources:
  • live search suggestions (autocomplete) from your default search engine e.g. Google Search
  • suggestions from your search history
  • browsing history and saved bookmarks addresses (in the address bar only)
  • currently opened tabs or
  • synced services e.g synced tabs

While these suggestions are useful, you may want to disable them for various reasons e.g. privacy. Here's how to do it.


Address Bar Suggestions

A. Disable Search Suggestions in the Address Bar


1. Go to the address bar, and with nothing typed in it, click the down facing arrow on the far right.
address bar down arrow
Address Bar Down Arrow

2. At the far right bottom of the drop down window, click the Change search settings gear icon.
search gear
Change Search Settings Gear

3. That will open Firefox Search Settings. Now just below the Default Search Engine disable remove the checkmark from the Provide search suggestions option.
search suggestions settings
Default Search Engine Settings


B. Disable History and Bookmark Suggestions in the Address Bar

1. In the address bar type about:config then press Enter key. Agree to the prompt.

2. Next, search for browser.urlbar.suggest in the search bar.

3. In the results, double click the following two options to toggle their value from true to false:
  • browser.urlbar.suggest.bookmark
  • browser.urlbar.suggest.history
change values
Double-click to change values


C. Disable Opened Tabs Suggestions in the Address Bar

Firefox will also suggest opened tabs in the address bar. You can identify these suggestions by the tab icon on their side and the Switch to tab label.
opened tabs
Opened Tabs Suggestions

To disable them do the following:

1. Repeat the first two steps in the previous section.

2. Then double click the following result to toggle its value from true to false: browser.urlbar.suggest.openpage
opened tabs value
Opened Tabs Value

You'll now not see suggestions from your default search engine, history, bookmarks and opened tabs when you type anything in the address bar. To restore the suggestions, restore the checkmark for the search suggestions and toggle the changed boolean values back to true.



D. Disable Synced Settings Suggestions

If you have a Firefox account and have enabled the option to sync settings across devices signed in with the account, suggestions from these other devices will appear based on what you've opted to synchronise e.g. history, bookmarks and opened tabs.
synced settings
Sync Settings

To disable suggestions of any of these synced settings, do the following:

1. In the address bar type about:config then press Enter key.

2. Next, search for services.sync.prefs.sync.browser.urlbar.suggest in the search bar.

3. In the results, double click the following two options to toggle their value from true to false:
  • services.sync.prefs.sync.browser.urlbar.suggest.bookmark - disables synced bookmarks suggestions
  • services.sync.prefs.sync.browser.urlbar.suggest.history - disables synced history suggestions
  • services.sync.prefs.sync.browser.urlbar.suggest.openpage - disables synced opened tabs suggestions
  • services.sync.prefs.sync.browser.urlbar.suggest.searches - disables synced search history suggestions
synced suggestions
Synced Suggestions Values



Search Bar Suggestions

The search bar has only two types of suggestions:
  • live search suggestions from your default search engine
  • suggestions from your search bar history

To disable both, do the following:

1. Right-click inside the search bar and deselect the Show Suggestion options
search bar menu
Search Bar Right-click Options

2. To clear the existing search suggestions click the Clear Search History option.

NOTE:
The Show Suggestions option is linked to the Provide search suggestions option in the settings. Thus, disabling either will turn off the search engine suggestions for both the address and search bar.

You therefore cannot retain suggestions in the search bar whilst it's disabled in the address bar and vice versa.

Live Mobile Search Adware in My Android Phone

A couple days ago I noticed a peculiar thing with my Vsun Android smartphone that's running Android 6.0: on random occasions when I opened or while using Diode (an open source Reddit client app), the stock browser would pop up and open a webpage called Live Mobile Search (livemobilesearch.com).

The page is a search engine powered by Google however it's has a Google Ad at the top of the page. While the search engine works, the ad refreshes upon typing and opens other search windows. This coupled with its automated launch quickly confirmed to me that this was likely an adware "virus".
livemobilesearch
Live Mobile Search Homepage

A cursory search online revealed that some android users were experiencing a similar issue with the adware. The earliest victim of this exact adware that I could find online was a StackExchnage question that dates back to 2017 though the adware seems to go as far back as 2012 going by this Android Central thread.

Nevertheless, the adware seems to have become more prevalent in the past few months if these Reddit threads are anything to go by. Personally, I noticed this around the 2nd week of March 2019.

Going by those other victims’ tales, the blame for the adware is likely an app that one may have installed recently. For some several Reddit victims, that app turned out to be the MegaN64 emulator.

For the rest however, the issue remains a big mystery since they claim they haven't installed any new app recently. So what gives?



Preloaded Adware?

Well for me, this is hardly a new occurrence. This is the second time I'm noticing adware with this particular phone of mine.

The first time was late last year when I noticed RevContent ads on my notification panel. After some of my investigations, it turned out that the Software Update app that came preinstalled on the phone was the one responsible for pushing the ads.

I couldn’t however uninstall that app since it was a System app and all my rooting attempts have failed thus far. The option to Disable was also unavailable for the app. Fortunately, clearing the data seemed to resolve the issue and I never encountered those ads again.

Three months later and a new adware has appeared. Coincidence? I don't think so, though for a couple days there I was convinced it had to be a different app this time round.

It's only after uninstalling a few recent apps with no success that I suspected the Software Update app was at it again. So I checked its app details and it turned it had accrued some new data this past few months without me noticing. Anyway, I cleared its app data and forced stop it.

I then went back and tried launching Diode and this time nothing happened. However, as I pointed out at the start of the article, the adware behaviour was random and consequently not all launches triggered it.

So I gave it a one-day grace period and kept launching Diode occasionally to see whether the ad would pop up. It never did until few days later.


How to Remove the livemobilesearch.com Adware

As you can tell clearing data and force stopping the app is a very temporary measure of dealing with this menace. This is because the app has a boot receiver which means it will launch every time you restart the device.

The only sure way of stopping the adware is either uninstalling or disabling the responsible app. But before you get there you need to establish which app is causing this.


Step 1: Find the App with Adware

If the adware started popping up only recently, first try uninstalling any apps you've installed of late. Do this one by one and try to trigger the adware after each uninstallation. This way you can establish the affected app and keep away from it in the future.

If you have no patience for this, just back up any data you need and do a factory reset.

On the other hand, if you haven't installed any new app in the recent past, then it's likely a system app is responsible. To trace the system app responsible, use the instructions provided in this answer.

You'll need to enable USB Debugging in your phone and a PC to connect it to the Android Debug Bridge (ADB) so as to run the commands through Window's command line.




Step 2: Remove the Affected System App

If you've root access, uninstall or freeze the affected System App. You can use an app like SD Maid or Titanium Backup to do that.

If you don't have root access, try Disabling the app by going to go to the app's details in Settings > Apps. Toggle the Show system option to view all the apps.
show system apps
Show System Apps

Chances are that you'll find the app cannot be disabled. This was my situation as well.
cannot disable
Disable button greyed out

Nevertheless, we may still be able to disable the app using ADB.

To do that:

1. First find out the package name of that system app. A quick easy way to do that is by using a System Info app like Elixir or use SD Maid by checking to the AppControl section.

2. Now, with USB Debugging enabled, connect your phone to your PC send the following ADB command to the phone (replace com.rock.gota with your package name):
adb shell pm disable-user com.rock.gota

If it works, the command will reply Success.

In my case, it failed and returned the following error:
Error: java.lang.SecurityException: Permission Denial: attempt to change component state from pid=21031, uid=2000, package uid=10077

3. If you happen to get an error too, then the next thing we can try is to remove the app for the current primary user i.e. the app will be uninstalled for you, but will still be available for any other users you've created on that phone.

To do that, send the following command (replace com.rock.gota with your package name):
adb shell pm uninstall --user 0 com.rock.gota

Should it work, the command will reply Success. Hopefully it will as it was in my case.
adb commands
ADB commands

4. Now just go back to your phone and in the app settings.
app removed
App Removed for Current User

You should find either the app is disabled or is listed as not available for the current user as shown above.



Be Wary of Cheap Android Smartphones

As I concluded in my other article when I encountered the first adware, this issue is no doubt a deliberate scheme orchestrated by some unscrupulous manufacturers or vendors.

Their objective I take it is to create some kind of advertisement botnet ("adbotnet?") which they can profit from long after selling their devices at very discounted prices. The obvious suspects here comprise mostly of smaller unknown brands of Chinese smartphones.

Unlike the great majority of small-time attackers that have to infect legitimate apps with their adware or software developers that resort to bundling their apps with the same, these manufacturers have a special advantage: preloading adware as a system app guarantees them security from detection and uninstallation.

This explains why the first victim I cited complained of the adware persisting even after doing a factory reset. Mind you, his device was a brand new smartphone (a Doogee Shoot 1). As it later turned out for several users with a similar device, the culprit was a system app called System Locker.

As such, be wary of cheap android brands that you don't trust. That's the only real long term solution to all this. Couple this measure with downloading apps only from Google Play Store or other reputable app stores like F-droid.

Side note: (since I've noticed people have the habit of carrying the Window's ecosystem mentality to Android) don't rely on installing Android antiviruses as they won't do much for this types of malware and the same goes for the myriad of "cleaners" out there that don't do much other than display ads. As one would say, the best antivirus is you the user.

How to Extract Images From Multiple Word Documents

Images in a word document can be saved by right-clicking and selecting the Save as Picture... option. This however is not ideal when many images are to be exported from the document or even multiple documents.

Fortunately, there are some workarounds one can use to extract the images from a document. An easy is to save the document as a Web Page (*.htm, *.html). Doing this will save all the images in the document in the exported HTML folder.

A much quicker way however is to change the extension of the document to that of a ZIP (*.zip) then extract it using a file archiver. It's this trick that we can use to export images from multiple documents in one go.

But before that, we have to make sure:
  • all the documents are in docx format, otherwise if they're in the old doc format they will have to be upgraded first
  • that there is only one word document so that all the images are extracted into one folder instead of multiple ones. To do that, we'll have to merge the documents first



Step 1: Merge the Documents into One Word Document


1. Open Microsoft Word and create a new document.

2. Go to the Insert tab and click the insert Object icon then select the Text From File... option.
object
Insert Text from File

3. In the browse window, locate and select all the word documents you want to extract images from then click the Insert button. To do this in one go, put the documents in one folder.
Insert Word Documents

4. Now give Word some time to merge all the files. The more and larger the documents are, the more time it will take to merge.

5. Once it's done merging, save the document.


Step 2: Extract the ZIP file

1. Go to the directory where the merged document has been saved and rename its extension from docx to zip. Ensure you have enabled the setting to make extensions visible otherwise you'll not be able to change it.

2. Next extract the file using compression software like 7-zip or WinRAR. If you don't have one installed, use Windows Explorer to open opening and extract the archive.

3. Open the extracted folder then go to the media folder inside the word folder. You should find all the images in the documents inside that folder.

Now wasn't that quick!

What is the Private Folder inside WhatsApp Media Folders?

The latest update of WhatsApp for Android has added Private folders inside the following WhatsApp Media folders:
  • WhatsApp Images
  • WhatsApp Video
  • WhatsApp Animated Gifs
  • WhatsApp Audio
  • WhatsApp Documents

The private folder is part of a new feature in WhatsApp that allows users to hide media downloaded from all or specific chats from the gallery.  These includes images, videos, gifs, audio files and documents.
private folder
Private Folder

This feature was previously only available to those using WhatsApp Beta but it's now available on the stable release.



How does the Private Folder hide Media?

Images and videos stored in the private folders are not visible in the gallery. They're instead hidden by a .nomedia file that is usually hidden. You can view it by making hidden files visible in your file manager's settings.
nomedia file
.nomedia File

The .nomedia file hides the media by instructing Android's media scanner to skip folders where its found when finding new images and videos to add to the gallery. As such, if you delete this file the media will no longer be hidden.

This is however not restricted to the default gallery and will as well hide the media for other gallery apps. The only exception is if an app has a setting to ignore .nomedia files e.g. MX Player for videos.

In the case of audio files, the .nomedia file will hide them from the stock Music app as well as other music players.


How to Enable the WhatsApp Private Folder?


The private folders will be created the moment you update to the latest WhatsApp for Android. To use them you'll however have to enable the setting to hide media either for all chats or specific individual and group chats.

For all chats, the setting can be enabled by going to:
WhatsApp Settings > Chats > Media Visibility > Show media in gallery 
For specific chats, open a chat then:
tap the three dots at the top right > Group info > Media visibility > No
However, only the newly downloaded media in your chats will be hidden when either of these settings is enabled.

To hide any of the old media that had already been downloaded from the gallery, you'll have move the images or videos manually to the private folders using a file manager.

Likewise, if you need to make the hidden images and videos visible in the gallery you'll have to move them manually out of the private folder.

For only newly downloaded media, just disable the media visibility setting.

How to Download from MEGA using a Download Manager

MEGA sets itself apart from other cloud storage services in that it offers end to end encryption for files uploaded. It also gives a generous 50 GB worth of storage to free users.

The service however comes with one downside: it downloads files using the browser's blob saving functionality. This is not the most reliable of ways especially for downloading large files.

Some common problems include:
  • not all browsers work or work well with the blob saving functionality (e.g. old versions of IE)
  • loss of internet connection may break downloads with no way to resume
  • maximum download speeds may not be achieved or accelerated for that matter
When downloading normally through the browser, the above limitations are usually overcome by making use of a download manager.

With MEGA, it would seem the closest option to achieving this is for one to use the MEGASync app however you can actually use a normal download manager like FDM or IDM. Here's how.



Step 1: Generate Download Link with MegaDownloader

First we need to generate a download link for the file to download using MegaDownloader. You can get the application from Softpedia.

Once you have it installed, do the following:

1. In your browser, go to mega.co.nz and copy the link in the address bar for the file you want to download. e.g.
https://mega.nz/#!ouR2hQJT!utjCA5ODxrp8zSGR8gbwMB9gmkJkFpAhoJsbHOJx7ZY

2. Launch MegaDownloader and on its toolbar click the Streaming option followed by Watch Online.
watch online
Open Watch Online

3. Paste the link in the MEGA URL link box then below it copy the link that is generated in the Streaming URL link box. e.g.
http://localhost:54321/streaming?t=1
streaming link
Copy Streaming Link

4. Minimize your browser and MegaDownloader (don't exit).



Step 2: Download Link with a Download Manager

1. Just open your download manager and paste the link you've just generated and start your download normally.

In my case, I use the good old FDM though it should work with other download managers.
fdm
Adding link to FDM

2. If you need to download multiple files, just repeat the steps above and feed the generated streaming link to your download manager.

The links for the files will look the same and only the last part will be different in order of how they've been generated e.g.
http://localhost:54321/streaming?t=1
http://localhost:54321/streaming?t=2
http://localhost:54321/streaming?t=3

The downloads may appear named as Streaming but once the download begins the actual name of the file will be resolved. If this fails to happen, remember to rename the file with actual file name and extension once its completed.

Cheers!

How to Unflip Playing Videos in Windows

Once in a while you'll come across a video whose image has been mirrored or flipped horizontally. Often one does not notice any difference in the video up until some text like titles or captions are come onto the screen. It's here you realize the video has been mirrored.

The usual suspects here tend to be videos uploaded on video sharing sites like YouTube and Dailymotion. I assume this happens either due to purposefully or by mistake using a miror effect during recording/editing a video.

Whichever the case, some videos are rendered slightly unwatchable in this state. To correct this, one may be forced to re-edit the video on a video editor though some video converters do support this.

However, this is too drastic a measure that can be rectified much easily by having a video player unmirror/unflip the video "on the fly" while its playing it. Let see a couple of Windows' video players that support this feature and how it's done.



Unflip Playing Video with VLC

To unflip a Video on VLC Media Player do the following:

1. Open the video with the VLC and pause it or leave it playing.

2. Press Ctrl+E to open the Adjustments and Effects options.

You can also access this option by clicking the Extended Settings button or by going to Tools > Effects and Filters on the toolbar.
extended settings
Extended Settings Button

3. Inside the Adjustments and Effects window, select the Video Effects options then Geometry settings.

4. In the Geometry settings check the Transform option then below it select Flip Horizontally from the drop down menu.
adjustments and effects
Adjustments and Effects options

Your video should now be unflipped. Remember to disable this option when you play a normal video that's not flipped.


Unflip Playing Video with PotPlayer

1. Open the video with Potplayer.

2. Now just press Ctrl+Z to unflip or flip the video while its playing. You can also unflip the video by Right-clicking > Video > Video processing > Mirror Image



Unflip Playing Video with MPC-HC (Media Player Classic)

Before we can flip a video with MPC-HC, we first need to make sure the renderer it's using supports rotation.

1. Go to the Settings (O) then select the Output settings. Now just make sure the renderer that's selected supports the Rotation option.
video renderer
Video Renderer supports Rotation

2. If it doesn't, select a different renderer from the drop down menu that supports rotation such as:
  • Enhanced Video Renderer (custom presenter)
  • Sync Renderer
  • Video Mixing Renderer 9 (renderless)

3. Now just open your video and with the Num Lock On press Alt+Num6 to unflip it. Press the same keys to toggle the setting back to normal.