With the release of Chrome 97, engineers from the Chromium team removed the option to remove default search engines from the browser. The change affects all Chromium-based browsers.
The change was led by Googler Justin Donnolley who noted:
Currently, you can remove a pre-populated search engine (e.g. Google, Bing, Baidu) with 2 clicks. This is hopelessly destructive because, even if you know enough to use the Add dialog to recreate a prepopulated entry, you can’t set the suggestion, new tab page, or other specialized URLs.
Deleting them should be harder (confirmation dialog) or impossible (no delete option in menu). My strong preference is to do the latter.
It turns out, however, that there are more people who would rather remove the default search engines than those who complain that the New Tab page is now empty, with one user complaining:
My search engine keeps changing to Yahoo. I tried to remove search engines during chrome setup, but it doesn’t work because there is no remove button under the 3 dots. How can I solve this problem? I also reset settings and wiped my computer to try to find malware.
Donnelley has now pledged to roll back the change in future Chromium releases, saying;
Hello, I am the person who removed the Delete option. I didn’t know people used deletion as a workaround as described here. I apologize for the issues people are having as a result.
We’re looking to see if there’s anything we can do to address the root problem of users changing their default search engine when they don’t want it. But in the meantime, I will restore the Delete option to the UI. It should return in Chrome 98 or 99 (released in early February and early March, respectively).
> it seems to be deliberate because it was thought that too many people accidentally delete their search engines
We actually don’t have any reports that this issue is common. The motivation was simply that if someone accidentally deleted a search engine, there was no way to get it back, so it’s a potentially very disruptive mistake. I wanted to protect myself against it even though very few people are affected by it.
Are any of our readers a little confused by the occasional changes to a product used by billions of users? Let us know below.