Browsers based on Chromium will no longer allow users to delete default search engines from the settings

Ashwin
Jan 15, 2022
Google Chrome
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67

Most web browsers ship with a bunch of different search engines that you may switch to, if you are not a fan of the default option. In addition to changing the provider, you may delete the default search engines from the list. But it appears that Chromium based browsers no longer allow you to do it.

Browsers based on Chromium 97 no longer allow users to delete default search engines
This change does not affect the option to set your default engine, you just won't be able to the preloaded providers. That's not necessarily a bad thing per se.

Chromium-based browsers will not allow you to delete the default search engines

A reddit user reported that Microsoft Edge has removed the ability to remove default search engines from the settings. While it is true, another user pointed out that it is not a change in Edge, but in all Chromium-based browsers. Some users says that this only affects the Windows version of the browsers, and that the Linux variants have the option.

Google Chrome no delete button for search engines

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According to a commit on the open-source project's page, the proposal to remove the delete button was made in October 2021. The developers felt that deleting the search engines was too easy, and that it was a bad thing because it would not be easy for users to add them back, as it is not possible to set the search provider for suggestions, new tag page and other specialized URLs. Following a small discussion which concluded that deleting a search provider could cause more problems than it would break, the change was approved a day later when Chromium 97 was released.

Opera browser - delete default search engines

Chrome 97 was released about ten days ago, and it became the first Chromium-based browser that removed the delete button from the Manage Search Engines page. Microsoft, Opera and Brave have followed suit in removing said option from their respective browsers.

Brave browser - delete default search engines

As of now, only Vivaldi, which is still based on Chromium 96, has the option to delete the default search engines. When the browser gets updated to the code based on Chromium 97, it will likely not allow users to remove the search providers. Firefox and Waterfox do not prevent users from deleting the built-in search options either.

Microsoft edge browser - delete default search engines

Chromium-based browsers will continue to allow the user to edit the keywords but not the URLs.

Google Chrome - edit search engine keyword

You can still add custom search providers if you want to, and this allows you to edit the search parameters.

Google chrome - add search engine custom

I think this change may not affect most users. It is a precautionary measure that could end up protecting the user in the event a malware tries to delete the default search engine, or hijack it. That said, if a malicious extension, toolbar or website, manages to use the add search engine option to inject a harmful search provider in the browser, and set it as the default provider, it wouldn't be stopped, would it? That is likely a very rare scenario, one that can easily be prevented by using an ad-blocker like uBlock Origin, avoiding illegal websites, and good old common sense of not clicking links randomly.

I will admit that I find it surprising that the removal of a simple feature in Chromium's source code impacts every browser that uses it as the base, do they have a choice? This does give Google an advantage over the competition. This got me wondering about what could happen when Google decides to kill support for v2 add-ons, and forces extensions to use Manifest V3. Will it impact other browsers in the same way? I mean, if there is no webRequest API that can be used, what could they possibly do except to rely on their own built-in ad-blockers?

What do you think? Should browsers allow you to delete the default search engines?

Summary
Chromium-based browsers will not allow you to delete default search engines
Article Name
Chromium-based browsers will not allow you to delete default search engines
Description
Browsers based on Chromium 97 will no longer allow users to delete default search engines. The change was done to prevent users from deleting the options accidentally.
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Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. Gavin B said on January 15, 2022 at 3:30 pm
    Reply

    Welcome back to Firefox :)

    1. Neutrino said on January 15, 2022 at 6:07 pm
      Reply

      You can’t delete search engines in FF – only hide them. And they also removed the option to add one manually some time ago.

      1. Jony said on January 15, 2022 at 6:10 pm
        Reply

        download source code and make the that you want

      2. Anonymous said on January 16, 2022 at 8:45 am
        Reply

        Jony, the source code of chromium can also be downloaded and do the same. So what you are talking about? If a chromium fork wants to add the code to their fork to delete search engines they can. But they don’t seem to care about this to add it. Well, let’s wait for Vivaldi, they may care about it.

      3. Klaas Vaak said on January 15, 2022 at 6:12 pm
        Reply

        @Neutrino: in Librewolf, a FF fork, you can remove search engines.

      4. ShintoPlasm said on January 15, 2022 at 11:13 pm
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        You can remove search engines in Firefox by clicking the ‘Remove’ button under the list. You can still add OpenSearch-compatible search engines (through a icon with plus-sign showing up under the address bar, a bit convoluted). Adding search engines entirely manually and from scratch requires the use of an add-on, but still possible.

      5. assurbani said on January 16, 2022 at 1:45 pm
        Reply

        I have the button “remove”

      6. farag said on January 16, 2022 at 8:46 pm
        Reply

        No. FF 96: I can remove and leave only my own custom ones (added manually).

    2. Iron Heart said on January 15, 2022 at 6:51 pm
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      @Gavin B

      As if, lol. Grab a dictionary and look up the word “desperate”, my man. Firefox is a lost cause and an inability to remove search engines (Why would I even do this?) won’t change that.

      https://calpaterson.com/mozilla.html

      1. desperate_corroded_iron_head said on January 16, 2022 at 11:48 am
        Reply

        Yeah, but more desperate or deep down drowning with bunch of crap for one coward browser…

      2. Mike Rotch said on January 16, 2022 at 6:24 pm
        Reply

        Oh my! What will your life revolve around when Firefox is gone? /s

      3. Live Free and Use Which Ever Browser Makes You Happy said on January 17, 2022 at 7:44 pm
        Reply

        Things we should consider:

        Is there any browser topic that Iron Heart does not troll?

        Does it make him feel good or think he has accomplished anything when he does?

        Has any of his “technical” information ever convinced anyone of anything at anytime?

        Dear Mr. Troll Heart, you may desire and indeed feel compelled to respond, but please know that I will not take the time to read your response as I will not come back to this particular thread.

    3. Dumbledalf said on January 16, 2022 at 12:20 am
      Reply

      When Google stops needing Firefox and stops paying them to give all their user data to them, Firefox will shut down and you will be coming to Chromium. :)

      1. Anonymous said on January 16, 2022 at 12:26 pm
        Reply

        Nope :)

      2. Anonymous said on January 17, 2022 at 7:52 pm
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        Why do you care what happens to Firefox or what browser we use?

        Why do we care what your opinion is?

        Why do you want to share something that adds little value?

  2. ULBoom said on January 15, 2022 at 3:47 pm
    Reply

    Don’t think it much matters. Bing (it’s called an accelerator, wtf?) could never be deleted from IE. Search providers deleted from FF still remain in about:config and there’s an easy switch in Settings to restore all the defaults.

    Having Amazon, Wikipedia, ebay, etc., as default search providers is bizarre unless you use a particular browser for only those sites.

  3. Tom Hawack said on January 15, 2022 at 4:22 pm
    Reply

    Not being able to delete a browser’s built-in search engine doesn’t appear to me as problematic, as long as you can disable them and add new ones. Firefox itself doesn’t allow to delete them (even if you do it the dirty way — right from the search.json.mozlz4 file — they’re reinstalled on Firefox start). Personally I’ve added 36 search engines to Firefox and disabled all the native ones. No idea if Chromium-based browsers allow the user to install external search engines…

    1. Tom Hawack said on January 15, 2022 at 4:55 pm
      Reply

      EDIT : “Firefox itself doesn’t allow to delete them (even if you do it the dirty way — right from the search.json.mozlz4 file — they’re reinstalled on Firefox start).”

      In fact the user can “delete” them in that they won’t appear in the browser’s search engines’ list, but in fact they’re only hidden and still appear in ‘about:debugging#/runtime/this-firefox’. No big deal if your ennemy being out of sight is enough without requiring him to be out of life, lol. This is semantics. All we may want is our engines and native ones out of the way, if applicable. Moreover I haven’t digged the exact search url content of FF’s built-in engines but let’s not forget that a search url can include more than the required search query…

      1. Anonymous said on January 15, 2022 at 8:14 pm
        Reply

        They will be added back (enabled back) after next browser update.

  4. Sdar said on January 15, 2022 at 5:25 pm
    Reply

    I’m testing the newest Vivaldi snapshot based on chromium 98 (98.0.4758.50) the option to remove search engines is still present and working as expected.

    1. Rick said on January 15, 2022 at 9:01 pm
      Reply

      Which makes sense, since Vivaldi doesn’t rely on the Chromium UI for this purpose.

    2. circushacksnews said on January 16, 2022 at 12:10 pm
      Reply

      Yeah, another lame disinformation post. Latest Vivaldi snapshot based on 98.x can remove search engines. More like circushacksnews…

  5. Anonymous said on January 15, 2022 at 5:41 pm
    Reply

    Just curious whether Brave Version 1.34.80 (Chromium: 97.0.4692.71 (Official Build) (64-bit)) have changed that, and yes there’s no possibility under settings to change that anymore, the URL is greyed out for the preinstalled search engines.
    Hopefully there’s no way to exploit this.

  6. Richard Allen said on January 15, 2022 at 5:46 pm
    Reply

    FF is my primary browser and Vivaldi Snapshot (v98) is my default chromium browser. Vivaldi is showing a “Delete” option in the settings but I suspect that it doesn’t really remove the search engine but instead just hides it. Reason being… I also see a “Restore Defaults” button.
    Either way, as long as I don’t have to see search engines that I don’t use I’ll be happy.

    1. Iron Heart said on January 15, 2022 at 6:52 pm
      Reply

      @Richard Allen

      This is the behavior of all browsers in reality, I think. Both Blink- and Gecko-based. The search engines are hidden, not deleted.

    2. John G. said on January 15, 2022 at 9:54 pm
      Reply

      Firefox is the only browser (imho) that allows to recover all deleted default browsers. :]

    3. Anonymous said on January 16, 2022 at 4:05 am
      Reply

      For Chrome I don’t know but for Firefox it’s been like that since long time ago.
      If you check the profile folder, the files are still there.

  7. valabuk said on January 15, 2022 at 5:49 pm
    Reply

    Opera hasn’t allowed you to remove the default search engine since version 15.

  8. Neutrino said on January 15, 2022 at 7:09 pm
    Reply

    Isn’t one of the biggest advantages of an Open Source Software – to change everything you want?
    How come that Brave and the others should follow suit and not be able to disregard the change?
    Please, explain to the dummy :P

    1. Iron Heart said on January 15, 2022 at 7:14 pm
      Reply

      @Neutrino

      > How come that Brave and the others should follow suit and not be able to disregard the change?

      Explain why anyone would need to reverse this? The search engines are sitting there rather passively, if you are not actively using them, you need not care about the options offered.

    2. Rex said on January 18, 2022 at 2:27 am
      Reply

      >change everything you want.

      Why should they bother? Every non ChromeZilla browser these days is just a wrapper around Chromium – they attach their additional bells and whistles and use whatever Google updates every couple of weeks. Changing the core means more maintenance headache for them and it’s not like Google will ever accept upstream patches.

      1. Anonymous said on January 27, 2022 at 4:19 am
        Reply

        “it’s not like Google will ever accept upstream patches”. LOL, most of my job is landing patches in Chromium. I’m a Chromium committer, and a code owner of Blink’s renderer core. But guess what, I don’t work at Google. Google is happy to accept external patches. But of course if they decide X, and you offer a patch doing the opposite of X, it will be rejected.

  9. J Tripper said on January 15, 2022 at 7:50 pm
    Reply

    @Iron Heart

    > Explain why anyone would need to reverse this? The search engines are sitting there rather passively, if you are not actively using them, you need not care about the options offered.

    If they are not being used, why do they need to still be there and not uninstalled? seems pointless to have something installed if not using it, and if a user chooses to delete them, it should be deleted and not simply hidden.

    I mean what is the point of any browser not allowing them to be removed and deleted? In my opinion if a user removes them, then begone! So tired of the big machine dictating the narrative for which all other browsers follow or suffer their wrath. Google, Chromium, Firefox for that matter, should not babysit the ignorant by making the browser idiot proof. The browsers should break so that the idiots that toggle or mess up a setting or remove something, has to fix their mistake. The coddling approach is exactly why this type of crap happens.

    1. Anonymous said on January 15, 2022 at 8:39 pm
      Reply

      It had to whip a storm up in somebody’s teacup!

      The main issue is we can still install whatever search engine we prefer, set whichever we prefer as default and the browser retains our preferences between restarts and updates.

    2. Nerdelbaum Frink said on January 15, 2022 at 11:38 pm
      Reply

      Nothing is “installed” … They’re just strings that define a url and search parameters for that URL that you can enable or disable in the settings. They’re functionally no different than any other settings. You can calm down

    3. Sam said on January 19, 2022 at 2:47 pm
      Reply

      My issue right now is that their is a bug in my computer after downloading a McAffee protection software where if I close out Chrome or shut down my computer, when I reopen Chrome the default browser is Yahoo. Which is arguably the most annoying thing to ever happen to me on a computer.

      I have no idea how to fix it now because I have Yahoo and Safe Yahoo (McAffee) within my default browsers and i cant delete them. This happened to me on a different computer but i didnt connect the dots that it was through the McAffee software. This sucks lol

  10. Philipp said on January 15, 2022 at 9:09 pm
    Reply

    According to https://bugs.chromium.org/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=1263679#c10 the delete function will return in Chromium 98 or 99…

  11. Carlos said on January 15, 2022 at 9:12 pm
    Reply

    I’m looking for a hack or methodology to remove all but the default search engines I desire. As a professional who’s cleaned up too many computers from secondary click bate provided by unwanted search engines, I prefer to protect users by giving them freedom to remove search engines they do not desire. While I can look around and find the underlying structure, I would be greatful if someone else has already located where the code placing these items is stored. My secondary alternative will be move clients to alternatives, but would prefer to resolve this.

  12. John G. said on January 15, 2022 at 9:53 pm
    Reply

    Nice information. Anyway Edge does not allow to delete them. By the way, Mozilla Team please add Ecosia to default search engines. Thanks @Ashwin! :]

  13. ShintoPlasm said on January 15, 2022 at 11:15 pm
    Reply

    Point of order, Mr Chairman: Opera has never allowed the removal of its default search engines, even before this update. In fact, you can’t actually change the default search engine beyond Opera’s preapproved list…

    1. anona said on January 16, 2022 at 3:35 pm
      Reply

      You could in the old Presto-based Opera

    2. Lemegeton said on January 17, 2022 at 2:25 pm
      Reply

      > Opera has never allowed the removal of its default search engines, even before this update. In fact, you can’t actually change the default search engine beyond Opera’s preinstalled list…

      Confirm this. Opera does not allow you to delete a search engine, or change to a custom one (only one of the “default” (pre-installed) ones, and they almost all have a built-in tracking tag so that Opera gets money from “clicks” and they can track the ‘clicks’ of Opera users).
      This situation has been going on for years, I believe that since the transition to blink (in the original Opera Presto change and delete was certainly possible).

  14. Jack said on January 15, 2022 at 11:33 pm
    Reply

    This is one of those changes Microsoft begged daddy Google to implement for them for their browser’s sake.

  15. John G. said on January 16, 2022 at 12:19 am
    Reply

    “Following a small discussion which concluded that deleting a search provider could cause more problems than it would break, the change was approved a day later when Chromium 97 was released.” >>> If so, then just add a button to recover them all like Firefox, you clever people! :]

  16. Anonymous said on January 16, 2022 at 12:30 am
    Reply

    Soon you won’t be able to make any changes in any browsers. I feel sorry for future generations that rely on technology.

  17. notanon said on January 16, 2022 at 2:44 am
    Reply

    You * [Editor: removed, please stay polite] are missing the point.

    Ashwin is pointing out that the browsers based on Chromium lack the mental acumen and programming expertise to make changes in the Blink browser engine (Google, of course, can do it, but Google is the driving force in forcing Manifest v. 3 to all Chromium based browsers, to protect their advertising revenue business, so Chrome will have Manifest v. 3 in January 2023).

    Despite all the lies by the makers of the Chromium clones (Opera, Vivaldi, Brave, etc.), when Chromium deprecates Manifest v. 2 in January 2023, the Chrome clones (Vivaldi, Brave, etc.) don’t have programmers with the ability to restore Manifest v. 2; therefore all Blink based browsers (Chrome, Vivaldi, Opera, Brave, etc.) will eventually use Manifest v. 3.

    After January 2023, the Chromium clones (Opera, Vivaldi, Brave, etc.) will try to base their browsers on the last version of Chromium that supports Manifest v. 2, but eventually, due to not being able to patch all the security holes, they will be forced to update to the latest version of Blink that only supports Manifest v. 3.

    Chromium clones (Opera, Vivaldi, Brave, etc.), can only program on top the Blink engine, they are not able to make changes in the Blink browser engine (Google could fork the Webkit engine, because they have alot of $200,000+ a year programmers and tons of money, while Opera, Vivaldi, Brave, etc. don’t have the programmers or the money).

    The programming done by the Chromium clones (Opera, Vivaldi, Brave, etc.) are trivial, like putting lipstick on a pig. The Chromium clones (Opera, Vivaldi, Brave, etc.) will be the Waterfoxes/Pale Moons of Chromium, ROTFLMAO!

    * [Editor: removed, stay polite]

    1. ShintoPlasm said on January 16, 2022 at 11:43 am
      Reply

      So much nonsense. The Chromium clone devs are not trying to keep Manifest v2 alive; instead their main USP is to include a built-in adblocker (with varying levels of effectiveness and success) that does not rely on the extension framework. Opera, Vivaldi and Brave all have an adblocker in place right now.

    2. Derek Clements said on January 17, 2022 at 4:15 am
      Reply

      A couple of points:

      1. The last time I looked (just now), Blink was licenced as both BSD and LGPLv2.1 – both being free software licences. Having established that, I fail to understand how “they are not able to make changes in the Blink browser engine” when they have access to the Blink source code.

      2. Are you able to furnish this readership with the evidence to back up your claim that Brave for example, does not have the programmers or the money to hack the Blink source code to meet their requirements?

      1. Rex said on January 18, 2022 at 2:33 am
        Reply

        Because a browser engine is a massively complex piece of code and they are not doing a hard fork like Pale Moon did of Firefox. They are simply using the latest Chromium build put out by Google directly. If they made any changes to that source, they will have to maintain it themselves with every future update to Chromium and they don’t want to do that. Google too unlike other open source projects, isn’t interested(for obvious reasons) in accepting their modifications as upstream patches to directly incorporate them into Chromium for future use.

  18. vanp said on January 16, 2022 at 3:05 am
    Reply

    Why doesn’t everybody just choose their preferred search engine, create a bookmark for it, then click on that bookmark when you want to do a search? If that’s too much work for you, try creating your own browser. Good grief.

  19. Yash said on January 16, 2022 at 7:40 am
    Reply

    Its a bit like If user can’t remove a search engine from their sight, chances are one day user will use it to just check them out. Afterall how many are going to create a custom Google search engine with URL instead of just use built-in one. Marketing strategy as always from Google.

  20. circushacksnews said on January 16, 2022 at 12:16 pm
    Reply

    Vivaldi will not have code updated to Chromium 97. Vivaldi is following Extended channel. LOL! Next Vivaldi 5.1 based on Chromium 98.x can delete default search engines!!
    Another disinformation post on Vivaldi browser…!!

  21. Chm said on January 16, 2022 at 1:51 pm
    Reply

    Evil corpos doing oss. What could possible go wrong.

  22. John C. said on January 16, 2022 at 2:31 pm
    Reply

    This is a perfect example of why it’s a really bad idea to base a
    browser on Chromium. Google has control of the features and code.

    ‘Nuff said.

  23. MW said on January 16, 2022 at 4:11 pm
    Reply

    Ok, fine. Now give us the ability to turn off the “change default search engine” popup suggestion that our 80 year old parents just click ‘ok’ on without reading the prompt.

  24. Farmers said on January 16, 2022 at 5:42 pm
    Reply

    I really don’t see the problem. You can still choose the default search engine you want, it’s not like they’re saying you’re no longer allowed to change it. Just means search engines you choose not to use will still be in the list, and you’d have to be very ‘anti’ a search engine to get in a huff over the inability to remove it as a choice.

  25. GoodMeasure said on January 16, 2022 at 6:15 pm
    Reply

    The decision to remove the ability to delete default search engines in itself is not that big of a deal. But the danger is if users accept it without putting up a fight, what is the next step? Eventually making it more and more difficult to choose your own search engine…

  26. Anonymous said on January 17, 2022 at 12:46 am
    Reply

    Well, Opera doesn’t even let you put a custom search engine as default. so there can be worst things than not being able to remove Google or Ecosia or garbage like that.
    I have to guess Brave Team will add the setting back if people want it, but I don’t see it a problem to have it living there in settings, I only not type :g and I will not remember I have google in my search engine list.

  27. Squiggy said on January 17, 2022 at 1:42 am
    Reply

    I’ve never deleted a search engine, not sure what the point of that would be. You don’t have to use them, just set your preferred search to the default and you never have to see the others again. So really, who cares?

    1. brightspark said on January 18, 2022 at 2:52 pm
      Reply

      Absolutely agree 100% Squiggy… a lot of fuss about nothing.

  28. tridentmoreorless said on January 17, 2022 at 4:03 am
    Reply

    People use this feature as a method to bypass search engine hijacking. It is also necessary for people who would like to manage the link used by the so called default search engines. But from what I saw on the development thread this feature will be restored in chromium 98 or 99.

  29. Sylvia said on January 18, 2022 at 8:20 am
    Reply

    Ridiculous! I am not a programmer; just a user. I think that removing the delete option is a detriment. Now, any one of those other unwanted search engines can take over my search events at any given time. I do not like them! I only like Chrome/Google! The onus is now on my to constantly monitor my default search engine, As I said, ridiculous!

    1. Farmers said on January 19, 2022 at 12:39 am
      Reply

      If a search engine WAS able to change your default without your consent, they wouldn’t need to be in the list to start with…

    2. vanp said on January 19, 2022 at 4:51 am
      Reply

      “Now, any one of those other unwanted search engines can take over my search events at any given time.”

      Uh, I’ve never heard that search engines were programmed to do such a thing.

      “I only like Chrome/Google!”

      I hardly know where to begin. Other than, Google is evil, arrogant, and a bully, and its products are spy machines and advertising machines, I’ll say just: “What the helllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll?”

  30. futureme said on January 21, 2022 at 9:21 am
    Reply

    Vivaldi announced yesterday that they hold the line with default search and will continue to give the choice to remove default search engines. See Twitter @vivaldibrowser

  31. Anonymous said on January 22, 2022 at 12:57 am
    Reply

    I am glad that I am still using Firefox.

  32. AL said on January 26, 2022 at 4:34 am
    Reply

    I am switching to Firefox!

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