Daniel S. Griffin
"I wish there was a way to turn off snippets."

30 October 2022 - Everett

I recently saw someone tweet: “I wish there was a way to turn off snippets.”

They were referring to turning off snippets on Google SERPs (search engine results pages) to improve the searcher’s searching experience, particularly to avoid being led astray by the summarization performed by Google.

These snippets, featured at the top of the results, are sometimes very flawed. I found the above tweet in reply to a semi-viral tweet about one problematic featured snippet (see Background, below). (The poster may have been referring to rich snippets (link to a very Google-focused and incomplete Wikipedia page) generally (also called “rich elements”), but I’m focused below on featured snippets.)

It looks like there are maybe five options for avoiding featured snippets, as a searcher:

There are probably many variations of the first two options.

Option 1.

I’ll discuss here two approaches to using browser extensions to block featured snippets: one content blocking browser extension, uBlock Origin, and one, more general-purpose, userscript manager, Tampermonkey.

uBlock Origin

The first page of results when searching [is there a way to turn off google featured snippets?] on Google2 gave me several results for webpage owners (who can choose to stop Google from making snippets of their content)3 and one for searchers: A Reddit post in r/uBlockOrigin from 2019:

The provided filter for use with the uBlock Origin extension (for Firefox or Chromium browsers) still works today4, though I slightly modified5 it to make the block more complete:


One tweet suggested, in reply to the original tweet wishing to turn off snippets, finding a Greasemonkey (for Firefox only) or Tampermonkey (Chromium-based browsers and others), script.

I found and tested this script, which works—though I don’t know JavaScript well enough to do more than a cursory examination (there are probably tools that could help confirm it is only filtering?): Google Search Result Clean6

Either approach probably will not work, though, if you are concerned about students searching on Chromebooks (as discussed in the thread with the question for this post; see Background, below) that likely have onerous restrictions on browser extensions.

The Markup’s Simple Search

You could also try The Markup’s Simple Search extension (which still works as of today, exactly two years after being published). The search experience, in a popup, is perhaps off-putting and may be best thought of as a demonstration or provocation, a speculative design: a reimagining. (added 2022-11-10)

Option 2.

You can try a sort of SERP “emulator” or proxy that does not include featured snippets, like this one of what Google was like in 20009: https://oldgoogle.neocities.org/2009/

I cannot vouch for the privacy of such searches.

Option 3.

Add a &num=9 parameter to the URL for the query.




This might only be useful if you have scripts that open queries via the URL7.

Option 4.

Convince Google to provide searchers with the option to turn of the snippets?

Option 5.

Use a different search engine that does not have featured snippets.

I don’t know of a list of search engines that do not at all use featured snippets or other machine summarizing for some queries. (Here is a general list of search engines, on Wikipedia.) These look like likely candidates:


I found the above wish in the replies to a recent complaint about Google’s Featured snippets—showing how a snippet distorts the message of a website addressing myths9 about pouring liquid cooking oil down the drain:

There are two screenshots in the tweet:

  1. Of the featured snippet:

    It’s okay to pour liquid oils down the drain.

    Liquid cooking oils float on water and easily adhere to sewer pipes. The oily film can collect food particles and other solids that will create a blockage.

  2. A portion of the snippeted website: An image captioned “Grease-clogged Pipe (photo courtesy Arlington County DES)” and the following text:


    It’s okay to pour grease down the drain if I run hot water with it.

    This only moves the grease further down the sewer line. Eventually the water will cool and the grease will begin to solidify and coat the pipes.

    It’s okay to pour liquid oils down the drain.

    Liquid cooking oils float on water and easily adhere to sewer pipes. The oily film can collect food particles and other solids that will create a blockage.`


This makes me curious whether non-Google researchers have studied folks searching with featured snippets blocked with an extension, like that in Option 1 above. I’ll have to look…

2022-11-02 Edit: Added Startpage to search engines without featured snippets.

2022-11-10 Edit: Added The Markup’s Simple Search to browser extensions.

  1. wc? = word choice? There is probably a better word than emulator or proxy to refer to these. 

  2. Quickly doing the same search on Bing, DuckDuckGo, Neeva, and You.com seems to return only results for webpage owners in the top results. Perhaps the query could be easily reformulated to clarify intent. 

  3. The first result at the time of my search, a featured snippet, actually includes, in passing, the tip shown in option 3. 

  4. I tested by searching g[what are featured snippets?], which at least presently includes a featured snippet, with the filter and extension both enabled and disabled. 

  5. modified (hopefully not too aggressively) to:

    google.*##.xpdopen:has-text(Featured snippet):nth-ancestor(6) 

  6. Relevant to my dissertation research, broadly, commented-out code for the Google Search Result Clean userscript contains instructions for also removing “naive and annoying websites” from Google search results, including: ‘www.w3schools.com’, ‘www.asciitable.com’, ‘www.dba-oracle.com’, ‘www.geeksforgeeks.org’, ‘www.tutorialspoint.com’ (these are websites that I’ve seen people complain about on Twitter with regard to doing programming related web searching, and one of the few examples I found of people programmatically modifying their web search tools). See numerous tweets on the topic by searching, for example, t[google w3schools hide]. A comment in the code suggests, instead, using uBlacklist to block those sites from search results.

        // Remove naive and annoying websites.
        // Comment this out, use uBlacklist instead

  7. For example, I wrote a clunky plugin for myself for Sublime that takes a simple notation (the search tool code followed by the query in square brackets) and with a hotkey opens a browser tab with the search. So I can write g[search this] or bmail[search this] in my notes and my hotkey will open a tab in my browser to the Google or Berkeley Gmail, respectively, search for [search this]. 

  8. Million Short and search.marginalia.nu are not currently listed on the Wikipedia list of search engines. :/  2

  9. This pattern, failing to process a website addressing a myth or “things you should never do”, appeared also in Google’s seizure search failure from October 2021.

    There are two screenshots in the tweet:

    1. The snippet for a “People also ask” prompted search: [Had a seizure Now what?]: “Hold the person down or try to stop their movements. Put something in the person’s mouth (this can cause tooth or jaw injuries) Administer CPR or other mouth-to- mouth breathing during the seizure. Give the person food or water until they are alert again.”
    2. A portion of the snippeted website:

      Do not:

      • Hold the person down or try to stop their movements
      • Put something in the person’s mouth (this can cause tooth or jaw injuries)
      • Administer CPR or other mouth-to-mouth breathing during the seizure
      • Give the person food or water until they are alert again