Chrome side search panel

Google has been testing a new sidebar in Chrome that makes web searching easier, and it’s starting to roll out more widely with the release of Chrome 108. Here’s how it works, and how to use it.

The new side search has been in stages of development and testing for over a year now, but it’s not related to the bookmarks and reading list sidebar that rolled out in 2021. When you do a web search, then click on a link, a small icon for your search engine will appear at the right side of the address bar. If you click the button, the search results will appear again, but this time in a panel on the right side of the screen.

You can click on a different link in the side panel to replace the current page. It’s especially helpful for times when you need to click through multiple search results, saving you the frustration of navigating back and forward over and over.

Side search panel in Chrome

There are a few catches right now, though. It doesn’t support all search engines — it (unsurprisingly) works with Google, but not when options like DuckDuckGo are set as the default search. There is ongoing work for other search providers to have the same integration, but not all the popular engines are compatible yet.

The panel also only seems to appear when you’re using your default search engine. For example, if you have Bing as the default engine and perform a search with Google, the panel won’t show up.

Finally, the feature hasn’t rolled out to everyone yet, but it can be manually enabled using feature flags. If you don’t see the search button in the address bar, navigate to chrome://flags/#side-search and chrome://flags/#side-search-dse-support (paste those into your address bar) and set both dropdowns to “Enabled.” After you completely quit Chrome and open it again, the button should show up.

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Corbin Davenport is the News Editor at How-To Geek, an independent software developer, and a podcaster. He previously worked at Android Police, PC Gamer, and XDA Developers.
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