How-To Geek

How to Switch Chrome’s Default Search to International Google


Google Chrome’s default search engine is Google. This makes perfect sense; the only problem is that it uses localized Google – for example, Google France or Google Israel. This impacts the interface language, and sometimes even the text orientation. Here’s how you can fix this and get “international” Google results with an English interface.

First, we need to figure out what search query we’re going to use. Go to and execute a simple query for a single word – say “cats”. If you get real-time results, hit Enter so that the address bar updates with the query URL. It should look something like this:,or.&fp=369c8973645261b8

If you wish to customize your search further, click Advanced Search. For example, I would like Google to annotate results with the reading level they require, so I can see what’s going to be difficult to read:


Whatever you change, remember this is going to be your default search from now on – so don’t select specify specifically about “cats”. Once you finish tweaking the advanced options, click Advanced Search. We now have a new string in the address bar:

Now copy this string someplace safe (such as a text editor), right-click Chrome’s address bar and click Edit search engines.


Chrome would not let us edit the default built-in search engine, so we simply created a new one and made it the default. Click Add to add a new search engine.


Under Name, write down anything you like – “Custom Google Search” or anything that seems appropriate. Chrome also makes you specify a keyword; it doesn’t really matter what keyword you specify because we’ll be making this your default search.

After specifying a name and a keyword, paste your search string into the URL field.


The next step, as Chrome helpfully points out, is to locate the word “cats” in our search string and replace it with a special token, %s. This token will be replaced by whatever we search for.


Once that’s done, click OK. Your new search engine should appear at the bottom of the big list of search engines. Make sure it’s selected and click Make Default.

That’s it! From now on, whenever you enter a search directly into Chrome’s address bar, you will be taken to your own customized search page.

A technical writer for Tibbo Technology by day, Erez is obsessed with customizing anything and everything. After years of using Litestep and Blackbox, switching to a custom keyboard layout (Colemak), extending Word and Excel with elaborate VBA, losing weight with an AutoHotkey script he developed and spending countless hours tweaking Foobar2000 to get it to look "just right", Erez decided the time has come to share some of this obsession with the world at large.

  • Published 03/10/11

Comments (11)

  1. komeni


    this is just what i needed to know!

  2. Daryl

    I wonder if this has already been superseded in the new v10 of Google, as I have the option on the chrome://settings/browser page to select a search engine from a dropdown at the top of which is Google UK and at the bottom is Google.

    Also worth pointing out that changing from your localised version of Google will remove the option in the left hand pane of the search results page to see pages from the UK only (in my case).

    However, on the plus side changing it to a non-localised version does enable the new nicer Google bar at the top of the page!

  3. Dan

    I use the google search string in Opera, since they both use the same syntax (as is IE).

  4. Kevin

    The look of the Edit Search Engine screen (chrome://settings/searchEngines) is different with my version (v11.0.696.0). It doesn’t seem to allow me to make my custom search the Default. Can someone help with this ?


  5. katefields

    Where exactly does the “international” part of the custom search come in? It looks like you just made a simple Google search again. Did I miss something?

  6. Erez Zukerman

    @katefields: I made it into rather than as it was before (for me). If you’re based in the US then it wouldn’t make much of a difference in that regard; however you can use this technique to customize other aspects of the search results page.

  7. Jo King

    i’m using the development version 11.0.696.0 of chrome and if i change the google search string, google instant (the suggestions apearing when you type something in your address bar) stops working. to avoid this leave the search string as it is ({google:baseURL}search?{google:RLZ}{google:acceptedSuggestion}{google:originalQueryForSuggestion}sourceid=chrome&ie={inputEncoding}&q=%s) and edit the file “Local State” in “c:\Users\\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\” with an editor of your choise. search for “last_known_google_url” and “last_prompted_google_url” and change the url to “”.

    in love
    jo king!

  8. Kate

    Ah, got it–kind of. Thanks!

  9. Phil K

    @Kevin: same thing happens in my version, Kevin – no option to make default.
    We both need some input on this.


  10. Phil D

    I use Chromes *Custom Search* extensively

    I just did a clean re-installed OS X version & updated to 10.6.6
    then Installed Chrome Vers. 10.0.648.133 to find
    they had all gone – my bad for not backing up I guess

    Does any one know how to add all my
    search engines to be SYNC’d along with bookmarks, plugins & themes etc

    or al least what is the path to the database where that info is stored?

    Warm regards
    Phil D

  11. Billy B

    @Jo King : Thanks so much for the tip !!! I live in Canada, and I wanted to use, but didn’t have suggestions when used a custom search engine.

    If I can comment, edit the file when chrome is closed, or else chrome will overwrite changes when closing.

    Thanks again.

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