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Google’s blue arrows: I hate it, turn it off!

5 October 2010 BY

Ok, this is going to be a bit of a rant post. I just HAVE to complain about Google, just for a little bit.

<start rant>You know me, I’m somebody who looks at things with a critical view, but with an open view at the same time. There is a reason for everything and before I judge I try to understand that reason first. And you know I can be critical on some things some Googlers might say, but in the end I’m a Google user. Just like everybody else. Although the fact that Bing is not yet available in it’s full potential in Europe does play a role.

But on Googles latest change I cannot for the love of God understand WHY Google implemented this change, and why they don’t have an option to turn it off. I’m talking about the keyboard search functionalities Google implemented last week as part of Instant Search. I’m not a big fan of Instant Search, but I can live with it, it doesn’t bother me. And as somebody who watches what’s going on at the search engines carefully I’m not tempted to turn it off just yet. I want to see how this develops. And as a matter of fact, I hardly notice it.

But the keyboard search… OMG Google… why?? And why can’t I turn the freaking function off???

I’m guessing most of you know what changes I’m talking about, but for those who don’t, Google last week added the possibility to scroll through your search results one by one using the arrows on your keyboard. If you look at your results you will see a little blue arrow in front of a search result. When you use your arrow keys to scroll down, the blue arrow will go to the next result. When you get to the result you want to hit and enter and you will be taken to the specific page. It looks nice, if you don’t have a mouse. But here’s my problem:

When I do a search I tend to scroll up and down the page to see all the search results. I then make the decision wether or not I will click on a link. Going up and down used to go really fast. Scanning was no problem. With the new feature however Google takes me down one result at a time, which means I have to use four clicks to see the first result below the fold. It takes me forever to scan a page now!

And each time I now do a search it annoys me. I thought Google was all about speed? What happened here Google? Where did the speed go? I thought Google Instant was developed to make things faster?

And here comes the second annoyance: I can’t turn the damn feature off without turning off Google Instant all together. Oh come on Google!

I can really honestly say: I hate this feature, and I can’t turn it off! It could drive me away from Google all together to be honest. Google’s changes over the last year have all been about user experience. Making things better for the user, that’s at least what they are claiming. Well, in this case for me they have overdone it. This experience really really sucks! </end rant>

There, thats what I just had to get off my chest. Am I the only one feeling like this? Am I missing something? What do you think?

AUTHORED BY:
h

Bas van den Beld is a speaker, trainer and online marketing strategist. Bas is the founder of Stateofdigital.com. -- You can hire Bas to speak, train or consult.
  • http://www.chapter42.com Roy Huiskes

    I so disagree with you, this is build for speed.

  • http://Www.dennissievers.com Dennis Sievers

    Haven’t you been listening to the State of search radioshow? ;)

    I personally love it, the less mousing to do, the better.

  • http://www.basvandenbeld.com Bas van den Beld

    I just heard you guys talked about this on the show :). I really really hate it, it is not built for those who are used to scroll using the arrows. Maybe it has something to do with my ‘past’ of being a windows user for a long time. I’m not used to using the trackpad. And changing the way you are used to work sometimes is not easy :)

    I don’t use a mouse, all I use is my keyboard on the mac and I use the arrows to scroll down. And in that case, the speed most certainly does not go up…

    • http://google.com KWASEB

      BYPASS THIS BY PRESSING CTRL AND UP/DOWN ARROW KEYS SIMULTANEOUSLY

      • nathaniel robinson

        does not work in firefox 5. under what circumstances does it work for you, KWASEB?

  • http://Www.dennissievers.com Dennis Sievers

    Isn’t the space useful enough for scrolling purposes? ;)

  • http://www.dennissievers.com Dennis Sievers

    Bas,

    I just woke up, and I still love the blue arrow ;-)

  • http://www.basvandenbeld.com Bas van den Beld

    Good for you :) I still don’t like it. Its not thought over well enough for everybody out there. Yes, space works, but as said before, I’m used to using the arrows. Google now forces me to change my way. Even if my way was the ‘wrong’ way, I don’y want them to do that :)

    • Chris

      I totally agree with you, that’s actually how I found this article. I was hoping to find a way to turn it off. BTW, I have been using the arrow key to scroll down through this article and the comments.

  • http://merchboer.nl Richard

    LOL @Dennis :)

    no opinion about the blue arrow, I’m not a POWER USER, so I heard.

  • http://www.motionlab.co.uk/ John

    The bigist problem with the ‘Blue Arrow’ is the Double Tap/Extended hold effect as it, just writen a blog post on it: http://www.motionlab.co.uk/blog/googles-little-blue-arrow-and-adwords/2010/10/

  • Ryan

    Can you use the Page Down key?

  • http://www.basvandenbeld.com Bas van den Beld

    There is no “Page down” key on a mac Ryan :)

    Thats the thing actually, maybe for some the feature is good, for me its not because it FORCES me to do something different, without another option, than I’m used to. Thats what I don’t like…

  • Scott

    COMPLETELY AGREE! Google is pushing me towards Bing more and more everyday. Bing is actually becoming a decent replacement and with the crap that Google is doing to mess with it’s own success I’ve actually found myself trying searches in both places more often. I haven’t made the switch just yet, but there was a time when I would NEVER have considered Microsoft for anything more than an operating system.

  • Jessica

    I agree with you. I HATE IT. I like “rolling” down the page. This skips and jumps from one entry to the next and reduces the smooth flow. I can’t keep track of which entry I’m on when it jumps from one to the next. Plus, you can no longer keep track of the info on the right sidebar, without having to use the side arrow bar, which is a big time waster. Make it optional for those of us who find it very distracting and extremely annoying.

    How’s that?

  • Mike

    I absolutely agree with you! I HATE this new “enhancement”. I am a keyboard/arrow scroller on web pages, I don’t want my hand on the mouse all the time, I just want to sit back and scroll up and down with the arrow keys, smoothly, like normal. If they had an option to turn it off it wouldn’t be a big deal. What’s up with google? Are they TRYING to make me use another search engine? They keep adding all of these new “enhancements” but I really feel they are just screwing up the simple, clean search engine they have always been known for. I wish they would just chill out sometimes.

  • http://- Danyal

    Erm… mouse wheel anyone…. ?

  • Matt

    no mouse on my netbook…or my laptop for that matter. HATE trackpads.
    I do 100% of my internet browsing from my couch, laptop on my…well, lap. hijacking my arrow keys not only slows me down, but is unbelievably irresponsible of Google.

  • http://Homethearerconcepts.net Cary

    Just turn it off. Click ” Instant Is On” and toggle to Instant Off. Its very small and located next to the large search box on a results page.

  • http://www.davidchristopher.net Chris

    It should be TAB, not arrows. Arrows scroll the cursor on everything else I use and as an avid keyboard user this change is not helpful AT ALL.

  • Austin Rasmussen

    I am with you on this, I hate the blue arrow. I love google, and am loyal to the search engine and an avid user. I swear by every product they offer. This blue bullet/arrow deal however should go. I don’t see the purpose either. Good points.

  • Kebs

    I completely agree, the new arrow is so annoying. Practically every other website in the world scrolls down smoothly when I hit the down arrow key. Google Instant is nice, why bundle it with the stupid arrow that breaks a universal navigation standard?

  • Sarah

    Agreeing with everyone who hates the stupid blue arrow. I want my scroll bar to do what it always has done

    Google needs an option to keep Instant on, but blue arrow down.

  • scott

    I completely agree. My searching has slowed down due to this “feature”. Right after results come back, I scroll up and down the page with the up and down arrows. Now, i have to wait for the blue arrow to get to the bottom of the page. Waste of my time. I’ve already started looking for a new search engine and enjoyed the experience at Google. Amazing how 1 small change can cause users to look elsewhere…

  • scott

    Hey, just found that you can turn it off. I use igoogle, so not sure if that matters, go into settings -> search settings at the top, then turn instant off. Sweet!

  • May

    I completely 100% agree with you Bas!! I hate this feature! Blue arrow needs to go!

  • v_i_c

    Bas, I agree with you. The blue arrow totally sucks! Here is the workaround I just found and posted to google help forum as well for other people. I hope you will find it useful… “something is better than nothing” here and I still hate the blue arrow.

    CTL + UP/DOWN

  • http://www.woic.co.uk Cardiff

    I noticed that I went through to the first resul accidentally by pressing return twice.. surely this cant be good for adwords advertisers and is a little bit of google taking advantage of people now going to be accidentally clicking adverts more now?

  • http://blog.thomascsherman.com Tom

    I could not agree more. They have broken a web user paradigm! The arrow keys scroll a webpage. Period. I cannot think of a single website where this isn’t true. I’m so annoyed I am going to write my own blog post about this.

    I also agree that instant is pretty good. It took me a little while to get used to it, but worth the time investment. But the blue arrow thing I will never get used to. Please provide a way to keep instant without the arrow!

  • josh

    i HATE HATE HATE that stupid blue arrow. i should be able to disable that. done with google search.

  • Troy

    I 100% agree. I do like Google Instant but hijacking my arrow keys is nothing short of infuriating. I too do the vast majority of my web surfing from my laptop and I despise using the trackpad for scrolling. Never mess with basic navigation, standards are standards for a reason.

    What’s next, hijack my mouse cursor too?

  • http://www.seanmccambridge.com Sean McCambridge

    I agree. I found your post Googling how to turn it off. Another commenter said that the TAB key made sense for this. I agree there, too. I use a laptop and use to use the arrows for keeping my eye in the center of my screen. Space/shift-space are great for reading articles, but when I’m scanning search results I prefer my arrow keys. If they let me turn it off, I’d be all for it but this is a clear USABILITY FAIL. Don’t force your users to alter their behavior, even if they’re in the (very numerous) minority.

  • http://none Anton

    I’m not fond of the new blue arrow either. I agree with everyone who says that the cursor keys are the norm for scrolling a web page, I’ve found though that if you hit Tab until you are on the actual search button you can scroll as normal with the cursor keys (I’ve called them that since my C64 days am I wrong to call the arrow keys that?), when you have the search button hightlighted it’s shift+tab to get back into the search box and continue “instant searching” then hit tab again to scroll but don’t hit enter or its a lot of tabbing to highlight the search button again……… wudda been easier to switch off instant search……………..
    I dislike trackpads also and plugging a mouse into a laptop makes me wanna sit at a desk instead…………

  • Keith

    Google’s keyboard hijack has been bothering me for weeks. I just did a Google search to find out WTF they were thinking and found this post. Rantfest commence. Google has done me well until this. I love their other new features (instant search and thumbnail previews are very innovative) but this blue arrow keyboard hijack is an abomination. Whoever is responsible for this broke a most basic computer input paradigm. You don’t hijack a user’s keyboard input. Ever! Leave this functionality to the user’s browser and/or operating system where it belongs. Every website in the world does this right, and then there’s Google.

  • Pockets

    I gotta go with the power-users here. I have been stymied time and again by Google’s Instant and its “features”. I’m not keen on the way Instant makes suggestions on their web page. And the usurpation of my arrow keys is inexcusable.

    I’ve been a Firefox user since its predecessor Firebird and the ability to customize my experience is key. I also exclusively use a laptop and despise dragging anything around a desk. I almost *never* use a scroll wheel and I live on the keyboard for just about everything. Keyboard shortcuts have long been faster than mousing for everything on a computer and this “enhancement” was irritating. I can handle having Instant (though I’m not a fan) because I typically use the search bar built in to my browser and that still works the way it’s supposed to.

    But the blue arrow has once again gotten to me. When they introduced it, it took me a bit to figure out what was messing with my web searching, but you could turn off Instant and that got rid of the arrow. GREAT!
    But they appear to have disabled that functionality too, now. When I saw the blue arrow was back, I checked my Instant settings and made sure it was off, but the arrow is still there and when I try to reset Instant to ‘off’, it ignores me. (I have tried disabling while logged in and while logged out, and the blue arrow persists and the setting always reports that ‘Instant is On’.)

    I have done some searching and it looks like there are a few extensions that I can use for Firefox to disable this ‘improvement’, but it feels like it’s probably just a matter of time until they find a way around any tweaks or extensions since they’ve already done it several times.

    I am planning to test out a few extensions and see what happens, but for now I have javascript turned off completely and I FINALLY have my search experience back to normal.

  • Lisa

    Thank you!!!!!!!!! INSTANT IS NOW OFF.

    No way am I going to get used to those crappy blue arrows…

    I, too, use my arrow keys to scroll web pages. I can even keep up with where I am with those stupid arrows, then the page itself jumps. Just awful…

  • Sarah

    Great point, Lisa! It’s the jump mid page! Also, once you get to the bottom of the page the arrows in certain cases, don’t week either, so I have neither jumpy arrow nor scroll with my up and down arrow keys. Does anyone have this problem, and if so, can you perhaps describe the circumstances in which this happens?

  • Steve

    I have to say, I hadn’t noticed the blue arrow thing before you pointed it out – THANKS!!!

    The most annoying thing by far is Google Instant, period. I don’t need to shave 1-2 seconds off of a word/search phrase that I’m going to type in anyway. I find it more annoying watching a screen update behind my letter-by-letter search as it figures out whether I’m looking for ‘picasa’ or ‘picasso’.

  • Sarah

    I figured out what was happening in the case I mentioned in my 11/30 post above. The Evil Blue Arrow actually jumps over to the ads on the side of the page. Not cool! Damn, google, don’t be evil, right?

  • Dee

    I agree I HATE it, not sure who at Google thought this was a good idea, they should be fired.

  • Ubi

    The worst feature ever. It’s impossible to scroll with the arrow keys.

    To us who are handicapped and cannot use a mouse, this feature is plain horrible. How can they do this?

  • Apollobites

    I might have a solution….I was pretty irriated to the scroll feature Google implemented too. I hate those arrows. I went into Google’s search settings in the upper right corner of their site and, under Google Instant, chose ‘Do not use Google Instant’ and also chose to display 30 results per page. After saving my preferences the arrow disappeared. I signed off and back on to make sure it wasn’t a fluke and it worked. Not sure why but it did. I hope this helps if you haven’t already found the solution.

  • http://www.basvandenbeld.com Bas van den Beld

    Hi, it’s connected to Google Instant indeed, so if you turn off instant it will turn off the arrows. But if you want Instant but not the arrows, there’s no turning off.

  • Dan F

    Wholeheartedly agree here. When I’m on the couch (like Bas) using the lappy, I too use the arrows to scroll up and down the page. I love instant search, but the blue arrow finally drove me nuts enough to google about it today. Turns out there’s a chrome extension that’ll return sanity to the arrow keys. It’s called Google Search Scroll and can be found at http://www.chromeextensions.org/appearance-functioning/google-search-scroll/
    I’m not sure what options there are out there – someone’s probably written a firefox/greasemonkey script, but I’m a chrome user so I haven’t looked.

  • Yves

    Thanks Dan. The extension works as expected.

  • http://www.kiborg.us Alex

    I hate this arrow. Get me back my scrolling or I go to Bing

  • nathaniel robinson

    here’s a fix:

    in firefox, hit ‘Ctrl+F’. the point is to invoke the firefox “Find bar”, but don’t bother typing anything in it. at this point, your up/down scrolling behavior should be back to normal (so long as the “Find bar” has the focus; hitting ‘Ctrl+F’ at any time gives the bar focus again). Firefox 5.0.

  • http://listn.to/kirkross Kirk Ross

    Dear Google: Please, *please* remove the giant, hand-drawn blue arrow from my google home page. It’s unsettling and disrupts my sense of order in the universe. In fact, it actually startles me every time I see it and I think to myself, “Yikes! Whatever that’s pointing to, I don’t want anything to do with it.”

    More to the point, I know how to access google+ and your playful reminder arrow makes me want to use it less… as in never.

    -2 for google.

  • Bill Jackson

    I expect that this will help most people navigate faster once they become familiar with it.

    But personally, I hate it when the software engineers try to predict what I want. Maybe it’s just my generation (60+) but I’ll type my own search, thank you, and NO YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT THE @#$% I WANT!

    Back to being open minded and reasonable–or trying.

  • Z. H.

    I had the same problem, but I found a way to turn it off:

    It has to do with Google’s Instant Search; turn off instant search and you get rid of that nightmarish blue arrow forever (or until google decides that it can force it back upon everyone). So here’s what to do:

    1. go to http://www.google.com
    2. from the google bar on the top right, select settings, then search settings
    3. At the Google Instant option, select ‘Do not use google Instant’

    Problem solved, for the time being

  • http://www.payandgopr.com Jon Barron

    Jeez what an over-reaction to a fairly unobtrusive, (very) temporary image of an innocuous arrow – the kind you find all over the Internet to guide or draw people’s attention to products and services they might like. Seen so many people up in arms about this, but remember loads of people have been waiting to join G+ for ages (which is a brilliant product btw) and are presumably grateful to be told it’s now open. Seriously, what’s the big deal?! Why shouldn’t Google promote it’s own product for a day?

    • http://www.basvandenbeld.com Bas van den Beld

      Hi Jon,

      in this case we were not talking about the arrow pointing to the Google+ signup on Google.com. We were talking about the blue arrows next to a search result which changed the way many people scrolled down.

  • http://joelf.com joel

    they just switched it back for everyone. I guess problem solved.

  • Chris

    That does appear to be the case! Finally, Google isn’t hijacking my keyboard anymore. Good riddance.

  • http://www.basvandenbeld.com Bas van den Beld

    Indeed! lol, that is great, maybe they listened ;)

  • Pingback: Google Removes Blue Arrows, Adds Previews for Sitelinks | WebWeter.nl

  • Decode_This

    in IE: google search settings > turn off instant search. Blue arrow gone. Don’t know about other browsers. I hate it too. Stupid developers just infuriate me. I see stupidity like this constantly in everything digital. This is what happens when kids control everything. No common sense.

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