Custom automatic searches not working

Within the last hour Chrome v88.0.4324.150 has stopped recognising my automated searches (like 'sr' to go to a specific subreddit, 'yt' to easily search Youtube, etc.) and instead is only letting me utilise them manually ( I've tried deleting and readding the search terms within Chrome's settings but nothing has fixed it.

Has anyone else using this feature expereinced the same problem? Are there any solutions or am I stuck for now?

27 thoughts on “Custom automatic searches not working”

  1. Yup, I’m suffering this too. Literally came here to see if anyone else was having the issue or found a solution. If I press Tab it works (because it tabs down to the suggested sites and the custom search engine is the first one), but pressing Tab is much more annoying than just pressing Space. I’m hoping this is a bug they’ll fix soon and not a new feature 🙁

  2. Yep, I’ve loved this feature and just noticed this too. You’ll notice that if you type your keyword (such as ‘sr’) the suggestions that drop down now include your wanted search location so you have to press Tab instead of space to select that and then type your search term.

    I know that’s not the answer you wanted but it would seem that is the new, intended behaviour. I just want it to work the way it already did.

  3. Hi, Chrome dev here.

    tl;dr: Apologies for the trouble, but this is an intentional change. You will need to type to trigger this feature from now on.

    Longer explanation: This feature has always triggered in one of two ways: and . We have disabled the latter because we believe that it was resulting in unintentional triggering for some users. And that eliminating the unintentional triggering would be more of a benefit than the cost of forcing the users who were intentionally triggering with to switch to using instead.

    For what it’s worth, I use with some of my keywords and have felt the pain of retraining myself to use instead. But I hope you’ll agree that eliminating unintentional triggering, which can be a very confusing experience, make sense.

    Edit (Feb 16): After continuing to gather feedback it’s clear that we underestimated the amount of disruption this change would cause and we have decided to roll it back while we evaluate some changes to make it less disruptive. In order to restore the old space-triggering behavior, you will need to restart Chrome.

  4. With [Shortmarks]( everything works like normal. Basically you set it as your default search engine and then all searches go through it and it redirects stuff depending on the keyword. A bonus is that it works cross-browser. I’ve been using it for at least half a decade now.

  5. Broken for me too, which is why I came to the sub to see if I was alone.

    Fortunately the feature just moved to the tab key instead of space per /u/justin_chrome. Just a slight change in muscle memory and life carries on. I was ready to raise holy hell if the feature was removed though. 😛

  6. I checked to see how firefox handles keyword searches and it works correctly. Seriously considering switching back to firefox after 10+ years of using chrome. google couldn’t leave well enough alone jfc

  7. Same thing on Computer, I even tried downloading older version still no work, syncing still pauses, reinstalled, clear cookie when quit chrome is disable also, just don’t know why it kept happening like that…

  8. I feel like this could be fixed by somebody who knows how to use Tampermonkey or AutoHotkey… Coders to the rescue plz! (An extension would be great, too.)

  9. This change from using space to tab is understandable, but is still annoying.

    The Search Settings page (chrome://settings/searchEngines) is the obvious place to give the user a little help with this change, because using tab is not intuitive.

    The other annoying thing is changes like this are made with zero communication, aside from searching about it or reading through Chrome changelogs.

    Please forward these comments to the Google Dev Team u/justin_chrome

  10. Sometime I wonder if the decision makers at Google/Chrome actually ever meet their ergonomics experts, because some of these decisions are just incredibly counter-productive or just plain incoherent.


    The keyword search feature using *Space* allows users to enter the equivalent of a command-line **without having to move their hands away from the standard resting pose** (ASDF JKL;) to immediately reach the search results of a website.

    By forcing the user to use the ***Tab*** key, it completely **breaks the typing flow**, forcing the user to stop, move their left ring finger to the *Tab* key, press it, move the left hand back to the standard ASDF pose, to finally resume typing.

    Note that the left hand is in charge of the **E** *(middle finger, necessarily pulled away as it’s the closest to the ring finger)* and **A** (**ring finger**) letters, the **two most frequent letters** in English (and romance languages). Forcing it to move pretty much guarantee that the search string will take *at least* a full additional second to be typed in, which is incredibly costly for a feature that’s suppose to be quasi-instantaneous and that will be used thousands of times.

    The *Tab* key is also a significant source of problem when the browser is slightly less responsive: ***Tab*** **is also used to move to the next selectable field**, so if the keyword-search input is not registered yet (or has any typo), pressing *Tab* will move the active field to the page, forcing the user to move back to the address bar, to finally resume their keyword search.

    Additionally if the user doesn’t notice that his input string didn’t work and still press the *Enter* key, they will interact with the selected field on the page…

    Returning to the address bar can usually be done using Shift+Tab or CTRL+L, but both remain impractical *(simultaneous keypresses + distant from the standard resting pose)*, and most users end up clicking back on the address bar as field selection is often unreliable.

    Additionally again, if the CTRL key is still pressed *(when opening a tab, CTRL+T, rapidly typing one letter keyword, CTRL+V to paste the search string, the Tab press can end up colliding with CTRL)*, it will even select the next tab in the browser.


    Removing the *Space* option in the keyword search feature is like removing the left mouse button for a feature, it completely breaks the flow and removes half the benefit of that feature.

    The keyword search is meant to (1) save time *and* (2) save navigation/bandwidth.

    By removing the *Space* option, the time-saving aspect is pretty much gone: the user might as well use the auto-suggestion from the address bar to access the homepage of the website, then directly type their search string there. If the search field is automatically selected and the connection/caching is fast enough, the result will be equivalent and will make the keyword search feature on that browser pretty much useless.

  11. I don’t even know how they pushed this update to me. I disabled Google Updater and I still have 87.0.4280.141 installed (for SWF Flash animation support). How the hell did they infect my browser with this change suddenly?

    This was a bad move on Google’s part. I thought one of my browser extensions went rogue and took input / spying control of my address bar. I uninstalled all of my Chrome extensions trying to troubleshoot the issue.

  12. After reading the suggestion here, I discovered that keyword search actually works if I press TAB instead of SPACE after my keyword

  13. the flag which disables it, will eventually be removed. So it is a temporary solution.

    Is there an addon which brings back the Space hotkey? Can it be done?

    I dont intend to try to change my years long muscle memory, because some Google developer decided one morning to change the hotkey in order to justify his salary.

  14. Everyone here is in agreement that it’s a bad move, but if anyone thinks Chrome developers are going to back out of it, especially when they are going to remove even the workaround via flags by a later version, they are woefully mistaken.

    Chrome Developers: Oh no! Anyway…

  15. Hi Everyone,

    We would like to share an update. Based on your feedback, we have decided to roll-back this change, and add “spacebar” back as a way to activate these keywords, allowing both “spacebar” and “tab” to be used as they were before. This roll-back is happening gradually, and you will need to restart Chrome for the change to take effect.

    You may read more about this change in our [Community Help forum post.](

    Rebecca, Chrome Support Manager

  16. Only updated today and luckily found this thread pretty right away. I can understand the change, but I don’t have “unintentional triggering”. Rather than that, I sometime end up uintentionally not triggering and searching the default engine.


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