With the release of Chrome 97, the engineers on the Chromium team have removed the option of deleting default search engines in the browser. The change affects all Chromium-based browsers.
The change was spearheaded by Googler Justin Donnolley who noted:
Currently, you can delete a pre-populated search engine (e.g. Google, Bing, Baidu) in 2 clicks. Doing so is irrecoverably destructive because, even if you’re knowledgeable enough to use the Add dialog to recreate a pre-populated entry, you can’t set the suggest, new tab page, or other specialized URLs.
Deleting these should either be more difficult (confirmation dialog) or impossible (no delete option in the menu). My strong preference is to do the latter.
It turns out however there are more people who prefer to delete default search engines than those who complain that the New Tab Page is now blank, with one user complaining:
My search engine keeps changing to yahoo. I’ve tried to remove the search engines on setting in chrome, but it doesn’t work since there is no delete button under the 3 dots. How can I fix this issue? I have also reseted settings and cleared my computer to try to find any malware.
Donnelley has now committed to reversing the change in future releases of Chromium, saying;
Hi, I’m the person that removed the Delete option. I didn’t realize that people were using deletion as a workaround as described here. I apologize for the trouble folks are having as a result.
We’re looking into whether there’s something we can do to address the root issue of people’s default search engine being changed when they don’t want that. But in the meantime, I’ll restore the Delete option in the UI. It should return in either Chrome 98 or 99 (releasing in early Feb and early Mar, respectively).
> it looks like it’s deliberate as it was believed that too many people were accidentally deleting their search engines
We don’t actually have any reports of this being a common problem. The motivation was simply that if someone deleted a search engine accidentally, there’s no way to get it back so it’s a potentially very disruptive mistake. I wanted to protect against that even if very few people are affected by it.
Are any of our readers somewhat troubled by the casual changes made to a product used by billions of users? Let us know below.