Permanently Disable Google Instant

By on January 20, 2011.     13 Comments

Google Instant is a feature added to the Google search engine on September 8, 2010 which produces search results as you type your query. It is supposed to save you time because it anticipates your query. Here’s what the Google Instant page has to say:

Our key technical insight was that people type slowly, but read quickly, typically taking 300 milliseconds between keystrokes, but only 30 milliseconds (a tenth of the time!) to glance at another part of the page. This means that you can scan a results page while you type. The most obvious change is that you get to the right content much faster than before because you don’t have to finish typing your full search term, or even press “search.” Another shift is that seeing results as you type helps you formulate a better search term by providing instant feedback.

This feature to the popular search engine wasn’t well received by everyone and some can argue that it actually takes longer to search if you use complex search queries or type at a high WPM rate. Sure, you could disable it by setting the drop-down box to “Instant is off” located to the right of the search box, or making the same adjustment to the Preferences page, but that only lasts until you clear your browser cookies.

As more people decide to routinely clear their cookies (I do it daily), options like this become less helpful because you end up setting them daily. You could turn off Instant in your iGoogle page, but the cookies become a problem again. You’ll have to log into iGoogle daily and not everyone has or wants an iGoogle account.

Fortunately, there are permanent ways to disable Google Instant that will withstand deleted cookies. I use the term “permanent” loosely because Google is always changing their systems around trying to find ways to improve them.

Method 1

Rather than searching on http://www.google.com search on http://www.google.com/webhp?complete=0&hl=en instead. Surprisingly, this also disables Google Instant on the SERP contrary to the option supposedly being “On.”

Method 2

Those of you using Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome as your web browsers can install the add-on known as Adblock Plus.

After you’ve installed it into your web browser and turned the stop sign red by enabling it, go into the Preferences, click the Filters menu, and click Add Filter.

Paste in the following code and press Enter:

|http://www.google.com/extern_js/

Now try searching in Google again and see the Instant feature is now disabled.

We’d like to hear from you! Does Google Instant help you search quicker? What things other than traditional website adverts do you block with Adblock Plus?

Posted in: Web Browsers



is the site owner of Computer Tech Tips and is passionate about computer technology, particularly Windows-based software, malware removal, and web development. He enjoys helping people troubleshoot computer problems and providing technical support to family, friends, and people around the net. Xps wrote 78 article(s) for Computer Tech Tips.


 Subscribe to comments: this article | all articles

Comments (13)

  1. [...] This article can be seen in full at its permanent location. Click this link to read the whole articl… [...]

  2. February 7, 2011 at 4:26 pm
    XPS said:

    Article Update: I found out that by searching at http://www.google.com/webhp?complete=0&hl=en instead of http://www.google.com will also disable Google Instant. It’s great because it doesn’t require a browser add-on so more browsers can use it. The article has been updated to reflect this helpful tip.

  3. March 1, 2011 at 11:36 pm
    Diane said:

    That first option works perfectly. Thanks! :)

  4. March 2, 2011 at 6:51 pm
    XPS said:

    Hi Diane! I’m glad you found the article helpful. Thank you for the comment. =)

  5. June 27, 2011 at 3:51 am
    Arnold said:

    The Adblock Plus option no longer works…

  6. June 27, 2011 at 1:50 pm
    XPS said:

    Hi Arnold. Thank you for the comment.

    You should go through your subscription, blocking, and exception rules because I can verify filtering |http://www.google.com/extern_js/ with Adblock Plus still works. I disabled all my subscriptions, blocking, element hiding, and exceptions and Google Instant functioned. Then, I enabled only that blocking rule and Google Instant ceased to function.

    I also checked Method 1 again and it still works, too.

  7. January 18, 2012 at 9:49 am
    Albert said:

    Where do I enter Method 1? I use FF, but switched default search to DuckDuckGo and in about:config with the “Google” filter, I have no results such as: http://www.google.com in “value” column. So, where do I apply this?
    I also can’t get the 2-nd method to work.

  8. January 18, 2012 at 4:54 pm
    XPS said:

    You would enter Method 1 directly into the address bar. Since I use Google often, I actually made it my homepage. If you use DuckDuckGo as your search engine of choice, it really doesn’t matter to use this tutorial because they don’t try to display search results as you type, unlike Google by default.

    If you were to use Google again, what is causing you difficulty on getting Method 2 to work? The picture and steps shown in the article are taken from a version of AdBlock Plus before 1.3, although they’re very similar to version 1.3.

    Adblock Plus 2.0′s interface is a bit different. You would access the Filter Preferences (found in the Tools menu or right-clicking the stop sign within the Navigation toolbar), click the Custom Filters tab, press Ctrl+R to “Show Filters”, click Add Filter button, and then paste the code I posted exactly as shown. To be honest, I think the new interface over complicates things.

  9. April 20, 2012 at 4:01 am
    GoogleInstantHater said:

    Hi XPS, excellent work, thank you!

    I’ve been using both methods at the same time, in FF 3.6 and FF 8.0, but some days ago Google Instant showed up again in FF 8.0… then, like magic, it disappeared as it came (?!) after some time… But now it’s permanent, none of the methods work anymore in my FF 8.0 browser… any suggestions/ideas? is Google “changing codes” or similar? In some forums I have seen another piece of code to block in ABP:
    ||http://www.google.com/extern_js/f/*.js
    What do you think about it?

    Thanks & regards

    PS: my apologies for my english (it’s not my mother tongue)

  10. April 20, 2012 at 4:56 pm
    XPS said:

    I set Method 1 as my homepage, so I use it very often. No changes to behavior have been made and it still works perfectly for me.

    Google Instant itself seems to have changed a bit (I don’t know exactly when), so Method 2 is affected. Before this Google Instant feature, you would go to Google.com and type your search query. As you began typing, other words would popup as search suggestions. Then, we had this Google Instant that displayed search results as we typed queries. Now, it appears we’re taken to the SERP where these query suggestions appear, but not actual search results. It would appear that Method 2 would no longer be necessary.

    The difference between your script and mine in Method 2 is that yours is more detailed with what it blocks. Mine blocks everything in the extern_js folder, including any content of sub-folders. Yours blocks any JavaScript files – no matter their filename – which are located in the subfolder f of parent folder extern_js.

    I’m guessing that we are from different parts of the world, so it is possible Google is using different regional settings for this tool and we could be seeing different things.

    P.S. The latest stable version of Firefox is version 11, and your English skills are just fine. Thank you for the nice comment.

  11. April 24, 2012 at 5:01 am
    GoogleInstantHater said:

    Thank you very much for your kind & detailed & answer!

    You guessed correctly, and now I’m quite sure Google is using different regional settings to avoid ABP filters… for Spain, the new filter (working perfectly by now) is:

    |http://www.google.es/xjs/_/js/s/

    Thanks & regards

  12. May 15, 2012 at 9:01 pm
    Allen Tran said:

    Ironically this has fixed my Google Instant. Thanks.

  13. May 20, 2012 at 11:31 am
    viv said:

    I’m using Chromium in Linux Mint 11 (Ubuntu) and I can right click the AdBlock Plus, choose Options, then click the Add Your Own Filters tab and paste http://www.google.com/extern_js/ into it. Ctrl-R refreshes and you see http://www.google.com/extern_js/ listed as one of your own filters. Hope this helps someone!

Comments are automatically closed after 550 days.

If current.date < (article.date + 550 days) {
print 'Some articles were manually closed before their time due to massive attempts of SPAM adverts. They may or may not be reopened in the future.';
} endif;
end humor;