Bring Back the Google Search Sidebar With These Tools

Chris Hoffman 17-12-2012

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 We've Actually Used It - What Does MakeUseOf Think Of Windows 8? If you haven’t installed Windows 8 yet; don’t worry, we’re technology writers - it’s our job to test these things out for you. Quite a few MakeUseOf staff including myself have taken the plunge and... Read More ). 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 An In-Depth Look at Google's New Knowledge Graph Read More . 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 More Free Google Search Tools You Might Not Be Using So Much Each filter and operator on Google Search is designed to be a crosshair on a scope mounted on that ‘canon’. You need to use them appropriately for the relevant search result. So, I am advancing... Read More . 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 search tools sidebar

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 5 Ways to Customize Your Browser and Have Websites the Way YOU Want Them to Be You’re probably familiar with browser extensions, but there are many other ways to customize your browser and tweak websites. The web isn’t a one-way, passive medium – you have the ability to remix websites you... Read More before, and the below tools make use of these methods.


Greasemonkey & Userscript

Websites use JavaScript code What is JavaScript and How Does It Work? [Technology Explained] Read More to modify their layouts and add interactive features. A user script is essentially a piece of JavaScript code that you choose to run on certain web pages. After you install this user script, it will run in the background whenever you open a Google search results page, modifying the page and putting the search sidebar back in place.

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.

google search tools left sidebar


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.

google search tools left sidebar

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.

google search tools left sidebar


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) Top 5 Sites To Learn CSS Online Read More 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.

google search tools sidebar


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?

Explore more about: Google Search, Web Search.

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  1. Avilio
    December 20, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    And what about the ones like me Who use a mobile versión. Is there an option? Using: blacckberry

  2. Ole Funch
    December 19, 2012 at 5:50 am

    Thx for telling, I did'nt know

  3. KEVIN
    December 19, 2012 at 4:34 am

    We in Ireland have also lost the option "search pages in Ireland" which was very useful at times.

  4. Mac Witty
    December 18, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    Thanks you make my day!
    I hate this dropdown menus - just a lot of extra clicks

  5. David Rowlinson
    December 18, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    Gone for Greasemonkey script, as said earlier need the date filter.

  6. Ashwin Ramesh
    December 18, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Haha thanks Chris! I really needed the search tools to be on the side :)

  7. Anonymous
    December 18, 2012 at 10:49 am

    The older design was better.....Thanks to greasemonkey I have it back... nice tool!

  8. Sravan Kumar
    December 18, 2012 at 7:32 am

    I mostly use Web search (default filter) only and some times switch to images.
    So I prefer the top bar as it is now.

  9. Thomas Petrucha
    December 18, 2012 at 7:19 am

    hmmm ok good to know, but after some searches I like the new style ;)
    ... thanks

  10. Justin Pot
    December 18, 2012 at 6:01 am

    Seems like only yesterday that I wrote the opposite of this article: //

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      December 19, 2012 at 6:45 am

      Ahahaha, yeah, the irony of life. But the articles provide alternative to mold the web to suit our needs, so thanks.

  11. Mac Support Centre
    December 18, 2012 at 4:31 am

    Thanks for the script.

  12. Luis
    December 18, 2012 at 1:35 am

    Thanks comes useful

  13. Ahamed Yaseen
    December 18, 2012 at 12:25 am

    Thanks a lot....

  14. Lionel Hutz
    December 18, 2012 at 12:12 am

    Thanks for the greasemonkey script. I don't mind the new location of the search tool so much as that they added an extra click to get what I want. I use the date range filter pretty frequently.