How to remove the new sidebar in Google Search


Updated: May 7, 2010


If you do not feel like reading the entire article, including
the introduction, please jump to the Solution.

Yesterday, Google launched a new version of their website, which now sports a vertical sidebar on the left side of the main area, allowing you to filter your searches in all kinds of ways. It looks something like this:

Teaser

Judging by the rapidly growing number of results found for "remove google sidebar" - it seems that the change has not been accepted well with users, which is kind of expected. Many find the change too drastic for their taste, including reduced functionality, distraction and whatnot. In general, people are resistant to change and the new Google looks come as a shock. Worse yet, there is no built-in option to disable it.

As of this morning, more than three million pages found. Basically, it comes down to one thing, how you can remove this sidebar? Disabling cookies works, but this hampers functionality. Disabling javascript is not effective. There are tons of answers, few really effective or simple.

Therefore, I've decided to write this guide and help you restore Google to its former, classic looks in a quick and simple fashion. Taste and politics aside, let's focus on the functionality. This article shows you several methods of how you can restore the looks of the Google search pages back to their old format.

Follow me.

Solution

There are several ways you can solve this issue. Some will only work for certain browsers, like Firefox or Google Chrome, some are applicable for all browsers on all platforms. Some are more complicated, some are trivial. Please choose what you find the best and most effective for you.

Firefox + Greasemonkey extension + Remove sidebar script

This solution is available for Firefox users.

The first you need to do is download and install the Greasemonkey Firefox extension. This browser addon lets you use custom pieces of Javascript to change the behavior and look of websites.

After installing the extension, restart Firefox. Next, go to Tools > Greasemonkey. Then, click on New User Script.

Setup new script

You will need to create a new script. Give it a meaningful title and description. The namespace field should point to the URL where you got the script, most likely the online Greasemonkey repository.

New

The Includes and Excludes fields let you specify which sites or domains you want to enable or disable the script. In our case, we want to enable the script on Google search pages, so your best bet is to use google.com/* wildcard.

After you click OK, the extension will ask you to choose your default text editor and then display the script in it. So far, it only has the header and you need to add the actual bit of code that does the work.

Install Remove Google Sidebar script

You can find a very short, clean simple script on userscripts.org. Many thanks go to Vin for putting up this script. It was indeed last updated a day ago, approx. the same time Google launched the change.

Copy & paste the code below //==/UserScript== section.

This is how it looks:

Script

Once this is done, go to Google and watch the script in action.

With Greasemonkey disabled:

Disabled

With Greasemonkey script enabled:

Enabled

Watch the right bottom corner, where the Greasemonkey icon is located. You can click on it to toggle the Greasemonkey status, so if you fancy the sidebar, it's one click away. You can also right-click on the icon for more options.

Options

You can also always tweak the scripts as you see fit:

Menu

Job done!

Note: Greasemonkey script may also work with Google Chrome and Opera.

Google Chrome + Hide Google Options extension

This solution is available for Google Chrome users.

First, Install the Hide Google Options extension.

Install

Warning

Then, you will see a small toggle button to the right of the address bar, which lets you enable/disable the sidebar. Very simple, quick and neat.

Works

Button

All browsers + special Google Search pages

You can use the special, super-geeky pages instead of the standard Google search domains. Rather than using google.com or google.ca or any of those, you can use the Bork, Klingon or Elmer Fudd versions of the search engine. So far, they have not been ported to the new version with the sidebar:

Fudd

Some of the available versions include:

http://www.google.com/webhp?hl=xx-elmer

http://www.google.com/webhp?hl=xx-klingon

http://www.google.com/webhp?hl=xx-bork

You may find the options and buttons sporting funny spelling, but it works just like the normal Google.

Other solutions for other browsers

Personally, I'm not aware of any solutions for Internet Explorer, Opera or Safari. I do not use these browsers, hence I do not know if there are any simple and elegant tricks available. If you know some, feel free to email me and I'll add them.

Update, May 8: I have received a number of suggestions that should work for Internet Explorer and Opera, as well as other browsers. Please see just below.

Other solutions - readers' suggestions

Important note: These tips are recommended by various readers and forum fellow members. While I have not personally tested them and cannot gurantee their absolute accuracy, I believe they should work well. However, you will have to test and decide. Most importantly, be careful when installing new software or scripts!

Many thanks to Night Raven, Pinga, Rmus, and norman.

Opera

Opera supports Greasemonkey scripts. The first thing you need to do is specify a folder that contains the user scripts. Go to Tools > Preferences > Advanced > Content > JavaScript Options > Choose, navigate to the folder.

Next, download this script by right-clicking on Install > Save Linked Content As and save the file in the folder you chose earlier. Restart Opera.

An alternative is to use a custom Cascading Style Sheet (CSS). Copy & paste the following snippet of CSS code into a text editor (e.g. Notepad, Wordpad, etc):

div#leftnav {display: none !important; }
#center_col {margin-left: 0px !important; }

Save the file with a .css extension to a folder; Opera root folder might be a good choice.

Load the Google site (any one of your used search domains), right-click anywhere on empty space on the page and choose Edit Site Preferences > Display, then choose the CSS file you've just created.

After reloading the page, the sidebar should be gone.

Note: This solution is domain-specific, so you should create a separate CSS file for each relevant search domain. Not exactly the most convenient or flexible solution, but again, it allows you to customize the looks of new Google search pages.

Internet Explorer

A suggestion is to try the customized IE7Pro browser, which works with userstyles.org scripts. Two scripts that may be used include Google - hide new sidebar on search results and Google Sidebar Disable.

All browsers

You can also use the All version or Advanced Search option in Google, which lets you collapse the sidebar if you do not want to show it. This means you need not use the special Bork or Klingon versions and can stick to plain English.

All

Advanced

Toggle

Conclusion

And that's it! You have a simple way of restoring Google Search to the old way. The solutions are quick and easy to implement, without any great hacking knowledge. As we see here, Firefox and Google Chrome clearly have an enormous customization advantage, so you should probably be using these anyway.

I hope you've enjoyed this short guide. Whether you agree or disagree with Google's changes is irrelevant. This is not about agreeing or disagreeing, but simple and pure functionality. Personally. I find the change slightly radical. It could have been implemented in a much better, smoother way. For example, use a different color for the sidebar to make it easier for the eyes, relocate it to the right side or allow users to enable/disable it in the search preferences, just like other options are available.

Well, that would be all. If you have friends in distress, spread the word.

Cheers.

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