Google Instant Previews, Preview Not Available

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 14, 2010
Updated • Dec 10, 2012
Google, Search

Google's new addition to it search engine, Instant Previews, is getting lots of press since its introduction. Google claims the new feature adds 5% to the search engine users satisfaction, others do not like the feature at all and want to disable it (see How To Disable Google Instant Previews for that).

If you have used the feature you may have stumbled upon search results with no preview images. The message "preview not available" appeared instead when moving the mouse over the search results entry. A lot of those sites did not have the spyglass icon next to them as well, which acts as a further indicator that no preview image is available.

But why are there sites with no preview image? The main reason for the preview not available error message is the safe search setting. Google sets safe search to moderate for all users by default which filters explicit images. The effect previously was mostly visible in Google's Image search engine where the majority of explicit images were filtered from the search results.

Google has carried that over to Google Instant Previews, so that the preview not available is displayed for explicit website snapshots.

This can be tested by clicking on search settings at the top right of the Google Search page and switching from "Use moderate filtering (Filter explicit images only - default behavior)" to "Do not filter my search results" under SafeSearch Filtering.

safe search filtering

Many preview not available messages show the screenshot of the web page afterwards. The page may need to be reloaded before the changes become visible in Google Search.

Google may also have not had time to process some of the websites in the search results. This is usually indicated by a missing spyglass next to the result.

instant previews no spyglass

What's your take on Google Instant Previews so far? Let us know in the comments.


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  1. ARGOS++ said on January 4, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    Dear DLME!!,

    There is quite a Lot more to FIX as only Instant Preview!.
    (It doesn’t work for me too, but also not: OPTIONS and SAFE SEARCH at all !!)
    Google is not even able to resolve the bar Minimum: the Relative Addresses of several Pages of my Site!!, and I’m for sure not the only !!??!!

    I hope such will also be helpful for you & us!

  2. DLME said on January 29, 2012 at 6:41 am

    i come from google search,
    thank for this tips its helpful for me.

  3. Ajabgul said on September 7, 2011 at 10:49 am

    عهعلخه.هلعنلاذذغفتغعف6عفعغ ذع6ف776ف57دئذ787878و

  4. Jon Admin said on June 22, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    I agree with Nancy. My website doesn’t show up inline either. I wish Google would fix this issue.

  5. jake thomas said on November 15, 2010 at 8:25 pm


    I started using Google many years ago because of its simple straightforward interface and results. What is this crap?

    I realize they have many employees, but can’t we put them to work watching water boil or something more important? I wish they’d stop trying to fix stuff that doesn’t need fixing.

    Just leave us alone google

  6. Nancy Berger said on November 15, 2010 at 10:55 am

    I’m baffled as to why some websites, including mine, do not display images on their instant preview. I’ve checked with Safari browsers where images do display. To my dismay, Google Webmaster does not troubleshoot this issue. Looking forward to Google’s offering solutions.

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