How to disable Google Suggest “feature”

It took me about half an hour to find out how to switch off Google’s latest “improvement”, so here is the solution I found on the Firefox Support Forum. (The solution on Google Suggest FAQ does not work.) With thanks to the Firefox Support Forum users: instead of setting Google’s address as http://www.google.com set it to http://www.google.com/webhp?complete=0&hl=en. Done and dusted.

This new “feature” fortunately does not seem to affect text-only browsers. Incidentally, in these, with cookies disabled, the only way to get rid of the “local” Google (i.e., a version that depends on the country where the IP address of the computer is, which is very often not the same as the country where the user is at the moment) is to use http://www.google.com/ncr.

The reason that it took so long to locate the solution was that searches for “switch off” “auto fill” or “auto complete” were turning up links to the Google toolbar, clearing your browser’s cache and similar. It was by chance I came across the term “Google Suggest”, which was the keyword. (Funny, isn’t it, that even with Google Suggest on I could not find anything!) This is why I am writing this post, simply to include all the keywords people might use in their quest to get rid of Google’s autofill, which is currently on by default.

While on the subject of Google, I do think that their current trend of trying to guess what the user searches for (or rather, what the search engine thinks they should search for) is creating more and more problems for users who do know exactly what they are searching for. Take the fact that the first search result often does not contain one of the searchwords but is a page where the pages that link to it contain the searched-for word! Or the way one has to enclose the keywords in quotation marks to get rid of similar yet completely unrelated words the search turns up.

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~ by veronikab on 26 August, 2008.

8 Responses to “How to disable Google Suggest “feature””

  1. Thanks! I found this via your comment on the Ask Dave Taylor site.

    I liken this Google “feature” to television … “here, let me do the thinking for you or show you what is best for you”.

  2. You may want to add a “dot” after the .com

    http://www.google.com./webhp?complete=0&hl=en

    as this is more of a “plain jane” address

  3. Pete, thanks for leaving the comment. I am glad you find the post helpful.

    I agree, it’s the “we know what is best for you” attitude that drives me mad. Sadly, it seems to be becoming more and more common in commercial software development. Long live open source!

  4. Sunwukong, why would you add a dot after “.com”, when .com is the name of the highest-level domain?

  5. (oops, looks like copying this from my text editor after typing it there changed the font. sorry)

    I should say “like _much_ of TV” instead of generalizing to all of TV in my earlier comment. Like most any other technological device, TV can be a good thing (educational) or a bad thing (little imagination and interaction). Computers are generally better for creating imagination and allowing for interaction. This blog is a good example!

    Funny thing about open source software. A couple of decades ago when I was overseeing QA testing of scientific mainframe operating systems, I felt that proprietary OSes were better to have than open-source Unix coming down the pike then because hackers didn’t have access to the code for proprietary OSes. The Robert Morris Internet worm that brought many VAXes running Ultrix one day back in the 1980s seemed like good evidence for this. But now the most virus-afflicted OS this decade is a proprietary one (probably the most afflicted because of its usage dominance though, and I have to give credit that malware outbreaks with it have been minimal the past couple of years), and I preach open-source code nowadays. I was happy to see software patents in the EU set back a couple of years ago although I don’t know the current status on this issue.

    Time to stop. I seem to be hijacking the blog entry.

  6. Nonono, you are not hijacking anything, Pete, your comments are very interesting and much appreciated! (Thanks for the compliment about my blog, too.)

    I have no TV. This is mainly for historical reasons: the TV in my home country is not worth watching most of the time, in my opinion; then I lived in Germany but I do not speak German too well, so I simply got out of the habit of watching anything and prefer to read. Or paint. Or browse the Internet, yes. Though I am wavering now that I live in the UK. The BBC does make a lot of good programs.

    I started to use computers seriously in the mid 90s, when Linux was already well established – and immeasurably better than a certain proprietary OS. It is also the whole culture of open source that attracts me. You contribute what you can and get help from other people on things where you need help. I am involved in development of a scientific code (http://www.conquest.ucl.ac.uk) that will be open source once it is released. This is what science is – or should be – about, for me.

    The software patents would have been a disaster indeed. I do not know what the situation is now, though.

  7. Hi, I can see that this solution is working for some but neither URL mentioned above is stopping the “Google Suggest” any suggestions?

  8. It should stop it for anyone – did you type the URL into the address bar of your browser?

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