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.