Google says goodbye to search's instant preview feature - gHacks Tech News

Google says goodbye to search's instant preview feature

We all know that Google likes to tweak and test, and that the company is using A-B tests regularly on company websites. Google has changed the search results page significantly in recent time. First, by introducing features such as Instant Previews or the Knowledge Graph sidebar, and then by removing the black navigational toolbar and moving the search tools from the left sidebar to the top of the page.

It appears that Google is not finished yet redesigning the search results page, as it seemingly has introduced another change very recently to it.  While I can't confirm that the change is live for all users, I can confirm that I could witness it on two different systems across multiple web browsers.

When you open Google Search now you may notice that the instant preview feature is not available anymore. The arrows that were once shown on hover over a result do not show up anymore, and the instant previews - that is a screenshot of the website taken by Google, are not available anymore either.

A small arrow icon next to the url of each page in the results is displayed instead. A click on it does not display the instant preview on the right side of the result though. Instead, you will see a small menu that links to a cached version of the page, similar pages, and sometimes sharing options as well. The share feature was not displayed on one system that I used for the test, while it was displayed on the other.

A click on cached opens a cached copy of the selected result while the selection of similar displays results that are similar in type to the selected one.

google new search context menu

It is not clear why the preview feature is removed from search, but the likely explanation is that it clashes with the Knowledge Graph feature and Google's plans to use the sidebar for additional information and features.

Google introduced another change to its search engine recently. If you click on search tools > all results in the top toolbar you may notice that the related results search is no longer included here as well.

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    1. naveed said on April 24, 2013 at 5:44 pm

      I personally hated the instant preview and always turned it off.

    2. naveed said on April 24, 2013 at 5:45 pm

      It defeated the back button functionality when you want to try multiple searches

    3. BobbyPhoenix said on April 24, 2013 at 8:04 pm

      I actually didn’t even notice it was gone. I like it, but I use two extension to better it. CoolPreviews and SearchPreview. While CoolPreviews replaces the Instant Preview function, it’s SearchPreview that is the icing on the cake. SearchPreview shows a picture of the website within the search results. I use both to help me search. Here are the links for Firefox. They are also available for Chrome.

    4. Boris said on April 24, 2013 at 9:27 pm

      Some Greasemonkey Google scripts do not work anymore.

    5. CGA said on April 25, 2013 at 1:35 am

      Good riddance, never used it anyway.

    6. Transcontinental said on April 25, 2013 at 2:38 am

      For once good news from Google Search engine should be encouraged !
      I as many users already had a script for getting rid of that nasty instant preview non-utility. Anyway, I barely call Google’s search.

    7. Olyawe4ka said on April 25, 2013 at 9:42 am

      It is a pity. I always use this option!

      1. CaptainTech / TechLord.777 said on March 28, 2016 at 3:43 pm

        I also loved it to hell!

        I used it very frequently!
        I was disappointed, that they had to remove it! I liked this feature! This tiný and little green arrow is no replacement for this beautiful feature‼

        @Diana: I’m with you bro!

    8. Diana said on April 25, 2013 at 4:03 pm

      I really love this feature. It saves me a lot of time because i do not have to open every single URL.

    9. zachary said on April 25, 2013 at 8:14 pm

      :( its been 1 day and I already miss it :( please bring it back Google. Add it as a option under search setting.

    10. SCrawford said on April 26, 2013 at 1:32 am

      I do a lot of research on a daily basis and I loved this preview feature…. I have been so frustrated without it these past two days. I have been searching for the option and finally did a google search to see what was going on with the missing preview windows. Now I’m even more discontented! It was a big time saver and it was the only reason I preferred Google to Bing…. Now I’m not so sure.

      1. Charley said on April 27, 2013 at 2:03 am

        Thanks for this article.
        Chrome is getting more functional, so I’ll be looking into any new extensions that will perform this preview function. I have one older Motorola-based Power PC, however, and it can’t run Chrome. There I use Safari. It was a real time saver for me, and I will miss it. Guess it may be time to put the old Apple to rest.

    11. SuilAmhain said on April 26, 2013 at 9:40 am

      They also got rid of “see more results from this site”. Very infuriating.

      The two extra clicks added after the last refresh to use each of the “Search Tools” was and continues to be annoying but this refresh removes a key/critical feature for google useablility.

    12. SuilAmhain said on May 3, 2013 at 7:58 am


      FYI, I got both pieces of functionality back with and grease monkey.

      Google site: Tool –
      Googlifix –

      I made a slight change to googlifix to narrow the left column but both scripts work really well for me.

      1. CaptainTech / theTechLord777 said on March 29, 2016 at 3:19 pm

        But this will make your computer to load the page directly.
        If you instant-preview a malware website, your comptuer is in danger.

        But Google’s native instant preview does protect you infront of virusses.

    13. BobbyPhoenix said on May 3, 2013 at 10:55 am

      @SuilAmhain I tried both scripts you gave, but I still don’t have the Instant Preview back. Are there any options I need to change?

    14. SuilAmhain said on May 4, 2013 at 11:48 am

      Hi Bobby, neither was for instant preview. Martin has a post today how to get instant preview back.

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