Google changed the way Custom Search works in Google Chrome. You can no longer enter your custom keyword and tap Space to quickly search. However, there is an alternative – and a way to get back the old custom search behavior.
What is a Custom Search?
Google Chrome has a search feature that allows you to assign “keywords”
You can check these in Chrome by clicking Menu> Settings> Search Engine> Manage Search Engines. The “Keywords” field defines the custom keyword that starts a custom search. Add a short one to speed things up. (To define a keyword for a search engine, click the menu button on the right, click “Edit” and enter the keyword in the keyword box.)
Let’s say you have a keyword “y” searching on YouTube. Previously, you could type “y cooking” in the Chrome address bar and press Enter to search YouTube for cooking videos.
However, the space bar no longer works this way thanks to a change to Google Chrome version 88 in February 2021.
As one Chrome developer explained on Reddit, Google made this change to prevent people from accidentally triggering custom searches with the space bar while performing normal searches.
How to use custom keywords with Tab
It’s still a way to easily use your custom searches – with the tab bar.
To perform a custom search, focus the Chrome address bar (for example, with Ctrl + L), type your keyword, press Tab, type the search, and press Enter.
For example, if you had a YouTube search that searched YouTube when you typed “y”, you now need to type “y”, press Tab, type the search, and then press Enter.
How to get back the behavior of the old room button
If you are used to the old space bar, you can get it back with a flag. As usual, there is no guarantee that these Chrome flags will last. Google will probably remove this option one day.
To get started, open the Chrome flag page. Type “chrome: // flags” (without quotes) in the Chrome location bar and press Enter to find it.
First, enter “search field for the search field” in the search field at the top of the page. When the “Keyword Search Button for the Search Box” option appears, click the “Default” box and set the option to “Disabled.”
Second, enter “omnibox suggestions” in the search field. When the “Omnibox suggestion button row” option appears, click the “Default” box on the right and set the option to “Enabled.”
You’re done now, and you can click the “Restart” button at the bottom of the page to restart Google Chrome. When it restarts, you will be able to use the space bar with your custom searches again.
Note: We tested this with Chrome 88 on February 16, 2020. If the options are no longer present in a future version of Chrome, it may no longer be a way to get the old space key back. You can still use Custom Search with the Tab key.
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