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.