Update Browsers based on Chromium will no longer allow delete default search engines

Gandalf_The_Grey

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Most web browsers ship with a bunch of different search engines that you may switch to, if you are not a fan of the default option. In addition to changing the provider, you may delete the default search engines from the list. But it appears that Chromium based browsers no longer allow you to do it.

This change does not affect the option to set your default engine, you just won't be able to the preloaded providers. That's not necessarily a bad thing per se.
According to a commit on the open-source project's page, the proposal to remove the delete button was made in October 2021. The developers felt that deleting the search engines was too easy, and that it was a bad thing because it would not be easy for users to add them back, as it is not possible to set the search provider for suggestions, new tag page and other specialized URLs. Following a small discussion which concluded that deleting a search provider could cause more problems than it would break, the change was approved a day later when Chromium 97 was released.
I think this change may not affect most users. It is a precautionary measure that could end up protecting the user in the event a malware tries to delete the default search engine, or hijack it. That said, if a malicious extension, toolbar or website, manages to use the add search engine option to inject a harmful search provider in the browser, and set it as the default provider, it wouldn't be stopped, would it? That is likely a very rare scenario, one that can easily be prevented by using an ad-blocker like uBlock Origin, avoiding illegal websites, and good old common sense of not clicking links randomly.
I will admit that I find it surprising that the removal of a simple feature in Chromium's source code impacts every browser that uses it as the base, do they have a choice? This does give Google an advantage over the competition. This got me wondering about what could happen when Google decides to kill support for v2 add-ons, and forces extensions to use Manifest V3. Will it impact other browsers in the same way? I mean, if there is no webRequest API that can be used, what could they possibly do except to rely on their own built-in ad-blockers?
 

Gandalf_The_Grey

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However, while this change was probably done with a good intention, some users are already complaining about new problems. For example, Filipa Nunes on the Chrome forum says their default search is automatically switching to Yahoo even when they tried to set it to something else. Many others on the thread say they're also facing similar problems.

As a result, it looks like the Remove option in the default search engine settings could be making a comeback in Chromium 98 or 99 as a temporary workaround for the problem.
 

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This is a ridiculous generation we live in, where everyone is fine with losing control of their devices.

I don't see anyone complaining about a Google anti-competitive practices now, they enforcing the Google search on third-party browsers based on Chromium.
 

silversurfer

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Fun fact FF doesn't let you delete the search engines either, it lets you hide them.

But don't take my word for it, look at the source.

Just to clarify for interested people only. Firefox (v96) still allows users to delete search engines:

#1.png#2.png
 

Gandalf_The_Grey

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Google restores Chrome default Search Engines delete option after users uproar
Recently released Chrome 97 came with a quiet change where it is no longer possible to remove default search engines. Google hid the delete option intentionally as part of the Search engines’ settings page makeover. After users uproar, the company recently promised it will restore the option in UI and it will appear in Chrome 98 or Chrome 99 stable versions. The change has been now entered into Canary 99 now.
So the default SEs may get deletable again in Chrome 98 releasing on Feb 1 or Chrome 99 scheduled to arrive on Mar 1, this year.

The change affected Microsoft Edge also. So you should expect the delete option to return in case of built-in search engines in Edge browser also in versions 98 or 99.
 

silversurfer

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I did say to look at the source, you're hidding the engines, Chrome actually deleted the engines.

In Firefox, I'm able to delete fully all search engines, nothing like to hide only. What source do you mean? "ghacks" wrote about Firefox:
Firefox and Waterfox do not prevent users from deleting the built-in search options either.
 

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