Chrome won’t allow users to remove search engines

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A recent update to the Chromium codebase removed the option to delete prepopulated search engines in the latest versions of Chrome and Edge browsers.

The problem was first highlighted several days ago when a number of users of a Google Chrome Help Page and Reddit thread complained about not being able to remove search engines in both browsers.

One user said their search engine kept changing to Yahoo in Chrome, although Google was set as the default.

“I tried to remove search engines in chrome settings but it doesn’t work because there is no remove button under the three dots,” the user said.

Google Chrome comes with specific pre-populated search engines based on the most popular option in each region.

In South Africa it currently ships with Google, Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo and Ecosia.

MyBroadband found that the delete option was not available for these search engines on one of our Windows 11 PCs running Chrome 97.

Shortly after the complaints, Chromium developer Justin Donnely claimed responsibility for the issue.

“The motivation was just that if someone accidentally deleted a search engine, there was no way to get it back, so it’s a potentially very disruptive mistake,” he explained. “I wanted to protect myself against it even though very few people are affected by it.”

He said the option to remove pre-populated search engines would mean that some users who were uninformed could remove pre-populated search engines and find themselves unable to set the suggestion, new tab page or ‘other specialized URLs.

However, Donnelly admitted that he did not realize that users had deleted some pre-populated search engines to prevent “search engine hijacking”.

It was obvious from some answers that some apps, like McAfee, could automatically change the user’s browser to one of the options provided.

This is because McAfee’s Secure Search feature only works with Yahoo. When this option is activated, the search engine automatically switches to Yahoo.

Donnelly said the Chromium team is looking to prevent automatic changes to search engine choices and will bring back the delete option in the next update.

“It should be back in Chrome 98 or 99, releasing in early February and early March, respectively,” Donnelly said.

Now read: Microsoft rolls back controversial default browser setting on Windows 11

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