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address bar

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

The address bar is the familiar text field at the top of a web browser’s graphical user interface (GUI) that displays the name or the URL (uniform resource locator) of the current web page. Users request websites and pages by typing either the name or the URL into the address bar.

IP addresses can be used directly in the field, but in typical use, a user enters the name of a web site they wish to visit and hits the “enter” key or presses a “go” button. Once the request is made, any known IP address will be found through a domain name server (DNS). The IP address is used for direct communication with the server providing the web site or web service.

Address bars also offer additional functions for user-friendliness and convenience. One such function is performing a web search for addresses that users try that aren't found by DNS lookup. Another common function is live character upload to provide suggestions for sites or searches. Live search can reduce typing and allow for a quick reference for commonly-searched things like conversion rates.

Address bars are also common to file browsers, where they are used to search for files or navigate to specific directories in a computer’s file system. In Google Chrome the address bar is called the omnibox.

This was last updated in February 2017

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