Change is the only constant. This is becoming even more true as we rely on web apps that can change out from under us. One day you’re using a familiar interface with features you rely on, and the next day you open your browser to realize that the interface you rely on is gone.
We’re naturally wired to dislike change – even positive change – but not all change is for the best (just look at Windows 8). Google’s new search page layout, placing search tools at the top of the page, makes more room of the search page for Google’s knowledge graph. However, it has some problems.
Search Tools – Now On Top
The new search tools layout cleans up the search page, especially for the majority of users out there who probably never touch these powerful tools. However, the search tools are now harder to get to for those of use who make use of them. Even worse, some options have been removed – there’s no longer any option to search for an image of an exact size, just an image that’s larger than a certain size.
Google says they’re working on re-adding this feature, but if you want to back now – or just want to get that familiar search sidebar back where your muscle memory expects it to be – you can use one of the below tools.
The web doesn’t have to be something we’re powerless to control. Our browsers make it possible to remix the websites we use, changing their interfaces to add new features and do what we like with them. We’ve covered some of the many ways you can modify websites and your browser before, and the below tools make use of these methods.
Greasemonkey & Userscript
If you’re using Firefox, you’ll need to install the Greasemonkey browser extension to use user scripts. Chrome includes built-in support for user scripts, so you won’t have to install anything extra.
To install the Google Search Tools Back user script, visit its web page and click the green Install button. If you’re using Firefox, you’ll be prompted to install the user script without any problems. If you’re using Chrome, you’ll see a message saying you can’t install the script from this website and the .user.js file will be downloaded to your computer.
To install the user script anyway, click the menu button, point to Tools, and select Extensions. Drag and drop the .user.js file from the downloads bar onto your Extensions page to install it.
You’ll now see the sidebar whenever you visit a Google search page. If you want to give the new interface a chance in the future, you can uninstall this user script from your Extensions page. In Firefox, you can remove it from Greasemonkey.
Stylish & Userstyle
Stylish allows you to install user styles that affect the layout and functionality of web pages. Web pages use cascading style sheets (CSS) files for their layout. Stylish hooks into your browser, giving you the capability to add your own stylesheets to web pages when they load.
This user style works perfectly with Firefox, but it requires some manual tweaking with Google Chrome. The instructions for tweaking it for Google Chrome are on the user style’s page, but we recommend using the user script method if you’re using Chrome.
To get started, visit this page on the userstyles website. Click the link on the page to install the Stylish extension for your browser. After you’ve installed Stylish, click the Install with Stylish button to install the user style. The next time you reload the page, the search tools sidebar will reappear.
How do you feel about the new Google search tools layout? Do you prefer the more compact use of space in the new layout, or do you find yourself yearning for the old layout and its features?
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