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How to Enable Google Instant Search in Google Chrome

Google Instant was released last week, adding instant search results to the page before you even finish typing. Here’s how to enable Google Instant search directly in the Google Chrome browser—though it’s still very rough.

You’re going to need to be running the Dev Channel version of Google Chrome to get this to work. Head over to the Early Access Releases page and download the Dev Channel installer to upgrade your current version to the Dev channel.

How it Works

Here’s a video that shows Google Instant search in action in Chrome. You’ll notice that the results load instantly on the bottom half of the page while you’re searching.

The Problem, At Least Right Now

If you heavily use Google Search in Chrome, you probably won’t want to enable this right now. Why? Because Google doesn’t like you, and you’ll trigger the automatic request error eventually.

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We have to assume they’ll eventually figure this out, and it’ll all work.

Enable Google Instant Search

Right-click on the shortcut and choose Properties, or if you’re using Windows 7 and have it pinned to the taskbar, you can right-click the button to get the Jump List, and then right-click on Google Chrome and choose Properties from there.

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Once you’ve got the properties window open, you will need to add the following to the end of the Target field, making sure to add a space between chrome.exe and the switch.

--enable-match-preview

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Click OK, close out of every single Chrome window, and then open it again using this shortcut.

Using Instant Search in Chrome

Now that you have it enabled, you can simply start typing to see it in action—if you Google for something that you haven’t searched for before, you’ll notice that it loads up in a Google page, like this search for weather.

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In some cases it’ll load the page directly, especially if there’s a single match and you’ve been to the page before. You can also move up and down in the list with the keyboard, and load the pages immediately.

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It’s really fairly rough, and loading the entire page can be a little weird, especially if it tries to load a page with a lot of data on it. But, it’s progress!

Thanks to Shawn for the tip!

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 09/12/10

Comments (19)

  1. Firefoxfreak

    And now i want this as addon on my firefox!

  2. Chris

    That is awesome! But I can imagine how this feature can yield embarrassing results :)

  3. Chris

    Just tried it, doesn’t quite work in Canada yet, can someone verify?

  4. Samuel

    In Spain it doesn’t work!

  5. Robson

    in poland on chromium 7 win32 works :)

  6. Manu

    Germany, Firefox 3.6.9, OS X 10.6.4:
    works great ;)

  7. Jump

    what about on OSX?

  8. Doctor

    No can do Chief in Chrome Vista can’t do it.

  9. jos

    doesn’t work in Belgium.

  10. FannyPack

    What are you talking about???

    I’ve been using this on Chrome since launch day and it has been working fine without changing anything.

  11. Blackz

    Israel, doesn’t work…

  12. rroberto

    I really appreciate your How-To emails. Hope you don’t take any of my ignorance below as a criticism.

    Where does the Dev channel fit between a beta and a released version?

    Wouldn’t the Dev possibly include bugs in many new features not in the current release?
    If so, I might be exchanging one neat thing for many other problems.
    As the only help from Google comes from their Forum
    – the blind leading the blind imho –
    I don’t wish to encounter more problems than the ones I’m still waiting answers for.

  13. DaveH

    Yes, Me too Fanny. It works like a charm for me too and I did NOTHING! Technology is great when it works.

  14. Adam Hazdra

    Czech Republic (6.0.472.55) doesn’t work.

  15. dertigo

    how do you do this on a mac?

  16. Dot

    Windows XP SP3 Chrome Canary 7.0.524.0 Netherlands doesn’t work at all!

  17. Lepigsass

    Eventually I got a Our systems have detected unusual traffic from your computer network. Please try your request again later!

    Caused by Google’s own software! hahaha

  18. MaciejP

    suddenly stopped working, how to turn it?

  19. mary lynn

    how do i fix my errors on computor as i have no access to another machine and i have 391 plus errors i do need your help it also didnt say how much it woul cost.

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