This ten-step tutorial gives you a Google Search for grown-ups, with all the training wheels taken off. Speed has not been compromised. The tutorial assumes that you’re using Firefox as your primary Web browser, that you use Google Classic when you’re signed-in to Google, and that you’re searching the Web from a widescreen desktop Windows PC.
This is not an optional “pick and mix” list, unless stated. Everything is needed, and sometimes one element relies on another element. All browser addons and scripts listed below are free, and come without any adware/spyware. They have been tested by myself. All are working happily together, and all are working with the latest roll-out of Google Search (as of 14th November 2010).
Step 1: If you don’t already have Firefox, please download and install it. If you have Firefox, make sure it is upgraded to the latest version.
Step 2: Download and install the Firefox Addon AdBlock Plus. This will automatically remove the bulk of advertising from Google search results pages.
Step 3: Download and install the Firefox Addon GreaseMonkey. This is the absolutely vital addon, the one that will run the GreaseMonkey scripts listed below.
Step 4: Close and relaunch Firefox, to ensure that the new addons are recognised and running.
Step 5: Now download and install all of the following GreaseMonkey scripts. All these have been tested, and they work together without conflicts. We’ll need to configure some of them, but we’ll do that once you’ve downloaded and installed them all. Installation is as simple as clicking two buttons.
For Google Search:
* Disable Google Fade-in.
* Disable Autocomplete.
* Google Preview Killer. No pop-up visual previews.
* Google 100. Lets you have more than 10 search results per page.
* New Google Ad-block. Blocks a few subtle types of Google Search ads not blocked by AdBlock Plus.
* Linkify Google Search Results. Makes the green Web address below each result useful.
* Scrub Google Redirect Links. Don’t allow Google to wrap search result links in gibberish code.
* Google Searches Exactly What You Type. No dumb second-guessing of what you want. You may need to turn this off if you find it causes looping on Google Books.
* GoogleMonkeyR. Allows all sorts of tweaks.
* No SearchWiki. Removes the little icons that appear next to each search result when you’re signed in (that’s right, the ones you never use).
* Customize Google Nav Bar. Lets you change and/or configure the topmost strip of text menu-links that lead to other Google Services…
* Hide/Toggle Google Sidebar. A very and neat elegant solution.
* Google Always Show Search Options. The search-by-date and other drop-down options on the sidebar are always fully opened up. This is needed because the Disable Autocomplete script breaks the sidebar’s menu-opening functions.
For Google Image Search:
* This is optional, but recommended. Google Image Basic + Direct Images. The first forces Google Images search to revert to how it looked and worked before it was Bing-ified. The second script adds direct links from thumbnails to the original images. They both work, and work well together.
Step 6: Now ensure that all those GreaseMonkey scripts you just installed are set to work on whatever the URL of your Google Search Home Page address is. Right-click on the smiling monkey icon in the bottom-right of your Firefox web browser. Select “Manage User Scripts…”.
Now scroll through the list of scripts, and check that each script is set to work on the correct Google web address. The scripts are pre-configured for this and should work fine without adjustment, but it may be that you use an obscure variant of the address for the Google home page. If in doubt, use something global like: http://*google.* (* = a wildcard, or instructions to ‘accept anything here’).
Step 7: Now we need to configure three of those GreaseMonkey scripts we just installed. The others should work fine without adjustment.
a. Google 100: Visit Google Search | In Firefox, go to Tools -> Greasemonkey -> User Script Commands | Choose “Set Google results per page” | Enter the number 18. Save and exit.
b. GoogleMonkeyR: In Firefox, go to Tools -> Greasemonkey -> User Script Commands | GoogleMonkeyR Preferences…
Then apply these preferences and Save…
c. Customize Google Nav Bar: This one is a little tricky to customise for non-coders. If you want to configure the links in the topmost menu of Google’s services…
… then right-click on the smiling monkey icon in the bottom-right of your Firefox web browser. Select “Manage User Scripts…”. Highlight the Customize Google Nav Bar script in the list. Click on Edit. Now make any changes by cutting or rearranging blocks of code thus, then Save…
Step 8: Explore your new Google Search experience. No Ads, No Autocomplete, No Reflowing of results as you type; No Pop-up Previews, No Fade-in, No code-wrapped URLs, No “did you really mean?”, No unwanted buttons or menu items, and with a neatly hidden (but available) sidebar. And with a couple of few nice discreet extras, and an elegant presentation that takes full advantage of your widescreen desktop monitor.
I’m assuming, of course, that you’ve already turned off Google Instant in your Google dashboard settings…
Step 9: I also like control over what results appear in Google Search results. I sometimes want to ban whole domains from ever appearing (e.g.: never see an informaworld.com page in search results ever again) in the results. This is optional, but recommended. The best solution for this has always been the excellent Firefox addon SurfClarity. However, this has stopped functioning due to the recent radical changes at Google Search, as have most of the similar GreaseMonkey Scripts. Until SurfClarity is repaired, the only domain blocker for Google Search that I can recommend and that I know is working with the new changes, is the GreaseMonkey script Noise Reduction for Google and Bing. It’s fairly elegant on the page, but does leave blank gaps where the erased search results were. The only real problem is that you can’t import/export the list of blocked domains. It also works for the Bing search engine.
Step 10. Sigh, relax, and enjoy a distraction-free searching experience.