How To Disable Google Instant Previews

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 11, 2010
Updated • Dec 10, 2012
Google, Search

Google Instant Previews is the latest in a series of improvements that Google has added to their search engine. Instant Previews add a small spying glass next to each page title in the Google search results. Hovering over the spying glass does nothing, as Instant Previews needs to be activated once by clicking on any of the displayed spying glasses. Once clicked hovering over any search results listing will display a visual snapshot of that website.

Why has Google implemented this new feature? According to Raj Krishnan there are three main reasons for the implementation:

  • Quickly compare results - A visual comparison of search results helps you pick the one that’s right for you. Quickly flip through previews to see which page looks best.
  • Pinpoint relevant content - Text call outs, in orange, will sometimes highlight where your search terms appear on the webpage so you can evaluate if it’s what you're looking for.
  • Interact with the results page - Page previews let you see the layout of a webpage before clicking the search result. Looking for a chart, picture, map or list? See if you can spot one in the preview.

Google Instant Previews is currently not available for everyone. Users who want to give it a try can access the temporary page to enable it for their web searches.

Some Internet users may want to disable that feature, and this guide shows them how to do it. Please note that the methods may cease to work in the future.

  • Use Opera: Instant Previews is not working in Opera currently. If you go to the test page and opt in to try it out you get the message "The experiment you're trying to access is no longer available." on the search results page. Other web browsers may show a similar behavior (but not Internet Explorer, Firefox or Chrome.
  • Block scripts on Google. Use an extension like NoScript to block scripts on Google. This blocks Instant Previews. It may however have side effects on other properties.
  • Switch to a localized Google search engine. This solution is temporary as the feature is rolled out to all Google search engines.
  • Use a custom Google search engine such as Scroogle. Scroogle offers the same result set but without the elements that have been added by Google in the past year. No sidebar, no instant previews, no instant search, less ads and no tracking.

Google Instant Previews is an unobtrusive feature that becomes active after the user clicks on a spy glass. That's how it works now. It is however likely that Google will implement the feature directly, so that users do not have to click to activate it.

On a personal note. I do not use it because it slows down my searching. What's your take on Instant Previews?


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  1. NoCrap said on December 18, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Here a new Greasemonkey script which disable a lot of things, including Google Instant:

    Developed for Firefox only, for now, though.

  2. Google has lost it said on October 24, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    @mike Moving to Linux doesn’t help, nor does moving to Firefox by itself. I finally got sick of it and found out how to banish instant preview forever! Using the ABP extension with the element helper and putting in the rule
    did the trick!

    Yep I agree, Google’s days on top are numbered, roll on the next big thing. (oh and please hurry!)

  3. dashesy said on September 27, 2011 at 8:59 am

    A few months introduction of “instant” I switched to Bing for two months, but Bing started showing Bing rewards and other crap, and the quality was no good.
    So I switched back to Google but thought myself to use Firefox search bar (Ctrl + k) to avoid instant, reading your comments I changed my home to
    For now, I really wish a serious competitor shows up in the search business, Google can then go to the smart phone business and leave serch business for good

    1. Mike said on October 16, 2011 at 4:13 pm

      Unfortunately, Bing has followed Google into the abyss. I didn’t notice the problem before this week – I was a diehard IE7 user and it didn’t work in the browser for some reason – maybe the config was just right… Now I’m on IE8 and both Google and Bing have the stoopid “preview”, with no way that I can find yet to disable it. I give up, you’ve convinced me – I’m going to join the crowd and install Linux Mint11 and start using Firefox. OMG! I never thought I’d actually do that…

  4. W. Isaacs said on July 24, 2011 at 2:09 am

    A useless, mandatory extension does not qualify for the word ‘feature’.
    It is an intrusion, an imposition.

  5. Google lost its fastball said on May 30, 2011 at 4:12 am

    It’s useless and annoying as piss. Can’t turn it off? I can turn google off.

  6. Eric Paul said on March 16, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    I too was annoyed by the instant preview. It was taking up to 120 seconds to render the page every time I performed a search or hit “next”. I use Google a few hundred times a day, so this was intolerable. I noticed however that some of my friends didn’t seem to have the same slowness. After some investigation I discovered disabling “ChromFrame BHO” fixed all of my slowness issue. The slowness was definitely introduced by instant preview, but ChromeFrame contributed to the problem substantially. If you’re having the same problem you may want to check your “add ons” to see if ChromeFrame is turned on. If it is turn it off and see if that helps. I still think instant preview is pretty useless. The way Bing handles it is much more useful and less intrusive.

  7. Alexis said on February 28, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh, those previews are just a pain the the a… !!! no more.
    What the hell were they thinking? ! Either I find something to deactivate this stuff or I’m moving to bing/Yahoo.

  8. INSTANThater said on February 22, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    I absolutely HATE this INSTANT feature, it has slowed down my searches so many times, so many times it just freezes what I type, it tries to outsmart me with guesses, then I want to turn it off FOREVER, but it keeps coming back the next day for more pain. It’s likethey force this on us. This probably stems for google staff being out of touch with the world beause they have some super fast (fiber optics) internet speed to engineer new features, so they think the entire world is super fast, also INSTANT makes me feel bad because when I turnoff it says my connection is SLOW when it is just ordinary. Dear google please remove instant, and by default, this is probably the most annoying thing since last year YOUTUBE is forcing this VEVO crap on us.

  9. TheDumb said on February 8, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    LOL OMG, no need for scroogle!

  10. Hmm said on January 9, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Google is doing some crazy things in the name of enhancing (their employees) experience. First it was with Gmail and how crazy they laid that out, now it’s with it’s search engine. if they’re adding new features, give the user PERMANENT control to disable or enable features. Not disabling for the session or the webpage.

    The more Google is doing c rap liek this, the more I am using other services including Yahoo and Bing.

    I think Google has gotten too big in their mind that they cant seem to think clearly.

  11. devin said on January 2, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    Or you can just open the site to the right! fly through results instead! Sweet search keeps your google results on the left and loads them on the right.

  12. TINY said on November 21, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    GOOGLE IS so stupid this time, fuck Google.

  13. Brian said on November 17, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    “What’s your take on Instant Previews?” – For the last year or so, every “improvement” Google’s rolled-out for their search engine has made it worse. They should stop screwing with something that worked.

  14. TheDoctor said on November 17, 2010 at 8:29 pm


    Just install AdBlock in Chrome (AdBlock Plus for Firefox). Then you have to click the glass to get the preview.

    Google is a business, like any other. No one is forcing you to use it.

    1. TheDoctor said on November 17, 2010 at 8:34 pm

      Note: Even using “stock” AB/ABP, clicking ~230 pixels to the right of the glass will still activate the preview. Someone give this a go:

  15. Ken said on November 17, 2010 at 12:45 am

    By far the worst thing Google has done. I cant believe I am about to say this but I am 2 seconds away from using Bing. Just because I cant search without my computer freezing to load this crap add-on.

  16. IceKat said on November 16, 2010 at 4:10 am

    Sorry for double posting but I thought we might need a place to complain about this. Hence my new facebook group called: I hate Google Preview/Instant and other new ‘features’ Come join. If we get lots of members I’ll email the link to Google. LOL.

  17. IceKat said on November 16, 2010 at 4:00 am

    I honestly don’t get it. Google has made it’s name having fuss-free searches. They’ve also got to have lived in the dark for the last 10 years to NOT know that users hate pop-ups….so why on earth would they introduce such a feature. Google is less and less what I want to be using. Even forgetting all those rumors in the past of user data being kept and stuff…this kind of thing…and Google Instant…are what will kill it. People will leave just because this kind of “force features down your throat” attitude will piss them off.

  18. Josef said on November 16, 2010 at 2:31 am

    I *hate* the instant preview “improvement”. Over the years, I have learned to reflexively click on a blank part of a browser window to make sure that’s the active window so that I can wheel-scroll in it. Gee, guess what happens now when I do that on a Google search result window? Most of the time, I’m forced to hit the browser’s Back button because I find myself unwittingly traveling to one of the result sites.

    Did I mention that I hate Google’s instant preview crap? Hey, Google, how ’bout you just Keep It Simple, Stupid?

  19. Roy said on November 15, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    Google you have been great up till now, but you seem to think you should take control of MY experience. much as i hate microsoft, i am off to bing.
    why when you have the right answer do you have to piss around until you break it.

  20. Bleh said on November 15, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    Going to Bing as well. Using Google has become loaded with junk we don’t need. I just want simple text results. No graphics. no previews. Nothing. JUST FAST TEXT.

  21. gabe said on November 14, 2010 at 9:25 am

    this is the last straw. I’m using bing now

  22. Nuck Chorris said on November 14, 2010 at 6:50 am

    Also, the Stylish extension is available for both Firefox and Chrome.
    And Opera has the ability to load custom css files built-in.

  23. Nuck Chorris said on November 14, 2010 at 6:47 am

    I usually prefer Stylish to Greasemonkey when it comes to customising websites
    Greasemonkey = javascript
    Stylish = css

    Anyway, I made this userstyle to disable preview:

  24. drmike said on November 13, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    I did not press any image. These are forced upon users. I find it terrible as I use my mouse wheel to move around and having these popup and become the active segment of the page causes issues. Also bothers me that Google is passing this off as optin when it’s clearly not.

  25. Jon said on November 13, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    @myself – clicking on the spyglass again is only a temporary solution – the wretched previews soon seem to start again.

    I have no objection if some people want instant previews – but I do expect a) that they’re not imposed as a default and b) some easy & obvious way to switch them off. Have several decades of UI good practice taught Google nothing?

  26. Rob said on November 13, 2010 at 9:45 am

    This “feature” is the worst new feature on google ever. Are you trying to imitate Altavista? If so, it won’t be too much longer before a hotbot or google like start-up takes the glory. Give the users a way to opt out of this crap. It is horrible!

    Using the feature does however disable the horrible preview feature.

  27. Boyd Crow said on November 13, 2010 at 2:02 am

    Just like other recent features foisted on us as defaults, preview started making my life miserable a few minutes ago. The magnifying glasses are acting like hover controls rather than buttons and I can see for the gibberish. I don’t search for pretty pictures that look good at reduced scale. I look for text-heavy pages for which the instant view is worse than useless.

    I want this to stop. I want it to not interfere with my searching.

  28. bf said on November 12, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    I actually made working “instant Preview” removal using AdBlockPlus. Those who know how AdBlockPlus Element Hiding Helper works will be able to do it in a minute. Those who do not want to use AdBlockPlus but use Stylish can do the same in few minutes too.

  29. John Crenshaw said on November 12, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    Like many other users, I was having problems with this feature triggering far more often than it should have. Any click in the search results area, regardless of whether it was on the spyglass, was triggering the preview.

    I’ve developed a more robust solution using Greasemonkey (Great idea @Arpit). I posted the code and reasoning at for anyone who is interested.

  30. Sergey said on November 12, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    I hate this thing. I often instinctively click somewhere in the browser window just to bring focus to it. Now it makes those previews appear for some reason, no matter where I click, despite the fact that there is that special button for it. Why? Why clicking on the result text brings up a preview? Is this action the most important of all, to make it the default one?

    Google has too much intrusive useless features. “Instant”, now this. The good thing about Google in the first place was that it had no crap, only useful things. Now it looks like there is a lot of developers “inventing” something for themselves to do.

  31. foozlesprite said on November 12, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    I really dislike this feature; I’m using a laptop and the instant preview does nothing for me but take up half my screen and cover my search results. I’m a reader, not a looker…I don’t like being forced to move my mouse to some far-flung corner of my screen to get my search results as text, the way I like it.

  32. Jon said on November 12, 2010 at 11:45 am

    Just click on a spyglass again, and Google instant preview is switched-off – no need to change browser, or somehow block the images.

  33. Milczek said on November 12, 2010 at 4:11 am

    Switched to Bing.

    Bye Bye annoying google

  34. Barbarosa said on November 11, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    I normally search with encrypted Google because the encryption prevents third parties from harvesting my search information. Read about it here:

    A secondary gain (for me) is that the encrypted search doesn’t show the instant preview icon! But if I use a regular search the instant preview is there.

    So, a quick solution is to switch to encrypted Google. You just need to make a new shortcut or bookmark favorite.

  35. SteveT said on November 11, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    What does Google not get? They became the #1 search engine by offering a no-frills site that was fast and gave relevant results. This gimmicky crap is just a distraction.

  36. Rudi said on November 11, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    Instant preview is complete crap. I remember when Google was fast and efficient. Now? Slow with a lot of gimmicks. Who needs gimmicks? Companies without any useful product. Yahoo for example. I will try using Scoogle in Chrome. By the way, there is an add-on in Firefox – look for the Element Hiding Helper for ABP. Press Ctrl-Shift-K and hover over anything you find annoying, then follow instructions.

    Hopefully someone comes out with a real alternative search engine soon, so I can wave bye bye to google shite

  37. Jimmy said on November 11, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    Google instant preview really sucks. It distracts my work.

  38. Jason said on November 11, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    Im switching as well. My internet connection can not handle the bandwidth the preview pane takes up. It slows everything similar to a computer loaded with spyware. Too bad Google has gone this route, oh well I guess so much for the old motto “Don’t be evil”

  39. Yoav said on November 11, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    OK, it just happened again. i’m switching my default search engine to Bing. Tell me when Google comes to its senses.

    1. Mike said on October 16, 2011 at 4:03 pm

      Me2 – but – darnit – now Bing has started to do it as well… Reminds me of that Simpson’s T-Shirt: “I See Stoopid People” Where do MSFT and Google get the idea that they must change a good tool ?

  40. Yoav said on November 11, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    These previews began popping up yesterday out of nowhere – I didn’t press any button. They are extremely annoying and in no way helpful and basically make it impossible to use google for search.

    Really, google was great because it was clean and simple. If I want a search engine filled with crap on every page I’ll use yahoo.

  41. TC said on November 11, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    The preview popovers suddenly started appearing for me on today. I did *NOT* click on a magnifying glass. In any case,it’s not really unobtrusive if, once enabled, there’s nowhere in the interface where you can disable it again.

    So now Google gets marked as untrusted for Javascript. Way to go, Google. Great job. (Hint: huge preview mouseovers are exactly as annoying and evil as ads that expand to fill the screen when you clip them accidentally with the mouse. Oh, wait, you sell those as well, don’t you? No wonder you can’t see why this “feature” is insanely annoying…)

  42. Arpit said on November 11, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Martin, after reading your post, I created this greasemonkey script ( – which at least hides that Instant Preview button. :)

    Chrome users: directly install it.

    Firefox users: Install with greasemonkey add-on

    1. hewiiefiuh said on November 13, 2010 at 12:35 pm

      Userscripts are the equivalent of dildos, so no, I will not use that.

    2. Martin said on November 11, 2010 at 12:11 pm

      That’s great, thanks Arpit ;)

  43. elmo said on November 11, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Instant previews suck. Most of these “preview” features added to websites and apps recently do little but confuse and distract users. I don’t see how a fuzzy image of the page is useful. Making it worse, you don’t have to click the magnifying glass to activate the feature, there’s a huge zone to the right of the icon that is active as well so it’s really easy to turn it on by accident.

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