Google Chrome Omnibox Instant Search Fix

Posted On // 9 comments
UPDATE 6/18/2014: It seems that Google has removed the setting referenced in the post below.  There are some folks that have commented that disabling the chrome://flags/#omnibox-auto-completion-for-ime setting seemed to help them.  I believe the issue I faced originally had to do with some plugin that was registering itself to the omnibox search APIs, and then it was behaving poorly.  As such, I'm not sure the referenced setting would have fixed that sort of problem.  One suggestion would be to disable plugins one at a time and then test omnibox search after each one is disabled.

I've been using Google Chrome as my browser for quite a while. One of the features they added to the browser early on was the ability to search the web by simply typing in the location bar. Soon after, Google also added the ability for top search results to show up in a dropdown list under the location bar as you typed. This feature was called "Instant", and made it even faster to get to the pages you wanted.

However, in recent builds of Chrome in the beta channel the instant feature and omnibox feature have started acting up and not functioning properly. I would begin to type in search terms, but my familiar list of options below the omnibox were not populating. Worse, even when I hit enter with my search terms in the omnibox, Chrome was seeming to hang and never execute my search. Going to and running the same search there worked great, so I suspected perhaps something was amiss in Chrome. So, it was off to the chromium issue tracker!

A quick search turned up an issue 180168 that sounded similar to my problem. The issue itself wasn't very informative, but it did reference something called the "Instant Extended API" which I hadn't heard of before. Another quick search seemed to show that this is a new API to allow plugins to add additional elements to the instant search results. Also, I noticed a few folks were mentioning this feature in conjunction with similar problems to what I was seeing.

So, I opened up a new tab to chrome://flags, and searched for "Instant". That turned up a flag labeled "Enable Instant extended API" that was set to "Automatic". I turned that flag off, and then clicked the "Restart Now" button at the bottom of that page.

After Chrome restarted, I was able to search with Google Instant again with no issues. For the curious, I was on version 27.0.1453.65 on Mac 10.8, but this may apply to other versions and OS-es.


LincolnHo said...

Thank you!!! I tried to find the answer and after a few sites which displayed the obvious (set google as your default search engine), I came across your blog. Followed it (although my dropdown was on default), changed it to disable, restarted, and it worked!

5 star answer!

Andy Vaughan said...

Thanks very much, worked a treat. said...

Yeah! Finally a solution that works. Thanks for saving me from much search-related frustration!

Eric Rodriguez said...


My dropdown as on default, changed to disable, restarted, and it works now!

Mike McDonald said...

I set my setting to disabled, but it didn't change anything. Instant search from omnibox is till not working. I am on 32.0.1700.19 beta. It did change how my new tab displays. Before changing this setting, there was a Google search bar in the middle of the page (much like going to to Google's home page) and most visited site thumbnails below that. Now it is back to just the thumbnails. Any ideas for this new version?

Allyn Malventano said...

I get the same result as Mike above.

Mixedbag said...

I no longer seem to have that setting.
Instead I found changing the below setting to Enabled did the trick:
Enable omnibox auto-completion when IME is active Windows, Linux, Chrome OS

-AP said...


Mallapu Lakshmi Siva Reddy said...

I found changing this setting "Answers in Suggest" to enabled worked for me