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April 20, 2010

Hide Google Options for Tidy Search Results

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You might have noticed a change in the past couple of weeks, an evil alteration to an old familiar friend. Google has been playing with their user interface again and this time, it seems to be rolling out to a wider audience than before. Search Engine Land reported extensively on the Google Options sidebar test and Virginia, Bruce and I discussed the impact of the new UI on a recent episode of SEM Synergy.

By discussed, of course, I mean that I complained. I don’t like change and I don’t like excessive clutter on page when I’m used to things being tidy. I’m not the only one. Google’s Support Forums are full of threads asking how to put things back the way they were.

Hide Google Options - Off

Luckily for me, I work with smart people who are willing to do anything to make me shut up and so our programmers got to work and in short order had bashed together a Hide Google Options plugin for both Chrome and Firefox (sorry, IE users, but now’s a great time to upgrade your browser).

Hide Google Options - On

Hide Google Options - Firefox icon

I think it’s a pretty slick little gizmo. Once you install it, the plugin adds a small red g to your browser window (shown here in Firefox). It’s on by default but a simple click of the icon turns it off and you can access the options if you want to.

And that’s it. You can now be free of Google’s annoying little experiment without constantly resetting your cookies.

Ain’t life grand?

Get Hide Google Options for Firefox or Hide Google Options for Chrome

Hide Google Options Sidebar

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25 responses to “Hide Google Options for Tidy Search Results”

  1. Andy writes:

    Have they been split testing this, as I (seemingly) randomly get one result or the other.

  2. Susan Esparza writes:

    It’s definitely random but it’s getting more pervasive. It popped up for me about a month ago. Clearing my cookies got rid of it that time but I wanted a more permanent fix so the smart code monkeys whipped up these plugins.

    Hopefully, Google decides against this UI change but I’m not holding my breath.

  3. Garry writes:

    I agree with you Susan and mind my words we are going to tow the way google is going.
    This feature is handy and makes you able to have multiple options. Good thing.

  4. Kim writes:

    I haven’t seen this at all. If I had, I would definitely want to remove it. Could it be because I’m already using a greasemonkey script that makes changes to the google search results?

  5. Susan Esparza writes:

    I don’t know about all the ins and outs of why the results show up. I think it’s just random testing at the moment based on cookies.

  6. Saurav writes:

    I am definitely getting different results :o(.

    Not only that results from Chrome are different from Firefox when I do a search for the same key phrase lol

    @Kim and yes it is because you already are using greasemonkey script

  7. Susan Esparza writes:

    I’ve noticed that too! What is up with that? Why the browser discrimination, Google?

  8. Dana Lookadoo writes:

    I’m also using a Greasemonkey script that changes how I see results. The new sidebar appeared this afternoon, however, Greasemonkey intact.

    Re browser discrimination, personalization and “cookie-ization” may be the key, and you probably are not signed into Google with both browsers. I’ve been doing some “signed in” vs “signed out” observations and see that my only difference between Google SERPs in Firefox and Chrome are the same.

    However, I have the new Google sidebar in Firefox, BUT it doesn’t show up for me in Chrome or IE.

  9. Malvineous writes:

    It looks like this has now gone public, and it annoyed me enough that I created a short bit of CSS for the Firefox Stylish plugin to hide the navbar (seems easier than using a whole plugin just for one site!)

  10. Susan Esparza writes:

    Good option for people using Stylish. Thanks, Malvineous.

  11. Trex writes:

    Just wanna say that this plugin work on, but not on (and it seems not working too on other “local country-specific Google”).
    Can the Code of the plugin be generalized or not ?

  12. Susan Esparza writes:

    Hi Trex

    We’re working to update the plugin so it’ll work internationally as well. Should be pushed out in the next couple days and then the whole world will be free of the three panel menace.

  13. Eirene writes:

    I installed this SEO plugin for Firefox to give me the option to turn this nuisance off, however, there is no icon showing in my browser to do this.

  14. Susan Esparza writes:


    It’s kind of hard to guess why it might not be showing up without more details. When you look at the status bar at the bottom of the browser is there a red and white G icon? (if it’s not white, that means the plugin is installed but disabled. Right click it to turn it on) You can also check your add-on manager and see if the extension show as enabled. If it’s not, enable it and restart the browser.

    If that doesn’t solve the problem, let me know if you are on (the plugin doesn’t work internationally yet but it should in a couple more days.) and what version of Firefox are you running. I’ll pass it along to the developers.

  15. Eirene writes:

    Hi Susan;

    Thanks for the quick response.

    No icon at all, yes the add-on is enabled. I am using Firefox 3.6.3. I guess it is due to using


  16. Susan Esparza writes:


    Yep, it’s a .ca problem. Never fear, the developers are working feverishly to push out an International friendly plugin so we can all (well, except IE users) have a nice clean Google again.


  17. Angry and soon ex-Google user writes:

    Extension is incomplete. It only affects (U.S.)
    Anywhere else in the world, as you hit “”,
    you’ll be redirected to nearest localized Google site,
    e.g.,, and extension does nothing for these. Sidebar is still go. International
    user has to insist the U.S. Google separately: and that way it will not seek the nearest localized site (all based on your IP address).

    Furthermore, my personal opinion – for what it’s worth:
    Google just pushes forward and forward but gone is the
    thinking of yesteryear: indeed, who’d care about end-user
    preferences? Just shove some B.S. down their throats,
    that’s what Microsoft does and gets away with it, right?

    Google is bordering on having outlived its usefulness
    to humanity. Do no evil, my ass.

  18. Susan Esparza writes:

    Angry and soon,

    We’re definitely working on updating the plugin to cover Google’s international properties as well. We’ll push out an auto-update for it, so if you have it installed you’ll see it like any other updated extension and then you can get your Google Classic view back.

    Google does tend to do extensive user testing. I just think in this case they screwed up and forgot that only SOME people want more options and they should have made this Options Panel…optional.

  19. Ed writes:

    Nice, but it tends to lock up on me – i.e., clicking on the icon won’t toggle it.

  20. Ed writes:

    More info – I can see that the value is actually toggling in about:config, but the options sidebar doesn’t toggle and the icon stays red. It takes a restart to make it behave.

  21. Dan writes:

    This is a great add-on, just wish there was an option to hide it from bottom, lol. Maybe in another update

  22. Chris writes:

    This plugin works perfectly for me (Firefox), and it’s wonderful to get rid of all the new junk on the left. I was very disappointed when Google imposed this change; thank you for restoring choice.

  23. Eirene writes:

    Thank you, very much appreciated. Works great, and I have no icon in the status bar. Now if we could just get rid of their tracking our every move. :))


  24. Mary writes:

    I will definitely be installing the plug-in!! The new Google everything sidebar is soooooooo annoying!! Just a question though, if for any reason, can the plug-in be un-installed?

    And yes, if possible, can you work on something to get rid of their tracking?!?! Just a thought.

    regards, Mary

  25. BR writes:

    When searching for images, one could before click one time with the mouse and open a specific website.

    With Google’s new invention, we can say that if their overall aim is that the user should click 4-5 times more with the mouse before getting to the context and in parallel support the development of a tennis elbow syndrome; – then Google have met their goals.

    If not, then I find it absolutely useless and annoying, and have without doubt triggered my move to another browser.

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