I copy a lot of URLs to send to students, friends, & co-workers. Heck, I copy a lot of URLs for myself & things I write. So when I search at Google for something simple like, oh, my name & then right-click on the first result Google gives back, select Copy Link Address, & then paste the result in, I get really annoyed when I get this sort of crap back:


Instead of what I was expecting, which was:


Granted, clicking on the link takes me to the right URL, but I don’t want to have to perform that extra step just to copy the URL. I just want to right-click on the link in the search results & copy the URL from there.

Now, I fully understand & expect that Google is going to track clicks on searches. But does it have to be so ham-handed about it? Does it have to mess up URLs that badly? Evidently the answer is an enthusiastic yes.

A couple of years ago I finally got tired of it, searched around, & found some Chrome extensions that fixed the problem. Here there are. Note that the first one, Don’t track me Google, is also available as a Greasemonkey extension, which means you can use it with Firefox.

I’ve used all of these at various times, & they all worked. Until a few days ago. Then Google changed something on its end, & now when you click on any search result, you get an error:

503. That’s an error.

The service you requested is not available at this time.

Service error -27. That’s all we know.

I immediately suspected that Google was blocking my attempt to block their click tracking2, so I disabled Kill Evil & Don’t track me Google & tried another search. No more 503 error, but now I was back to stupid garbage-encrusted URLs. I re-enabled Kill Evil & added Google to the whitelist as an exception with ^https?://www\.google\.com/, but that didn’t sit right with me.

Now I have a solution that works, & it’s actually better than what I had before. In Chrome, do the following:

  1. Open Chrome’s Preferences/Settings.
  2. Scroll down to the Search section & click on Manage Search Engines. The Search Engines pane will open.
  3. You should have three sections in the Search Engine pane: Default Search Settings, Other Search Engines, & Search Engines Added By Extensions. Scroll to the end of Other Search Engines (mine was a very long list).
  4. In the Add A New Search Engine box, enter: Google Encrypted.
  5. In the Keyword box, enter: g (feel free to change this to whatever you want, like ge, as it’s about to not really matter much).
  6. In the URL box, enter: https://encrypted.google.com/#hl=en&safe=off&output=search&q=%s (note that I have Safe Search off; to remove that & turn Safe Search on, get rid of &safe=off)3.
  7. Press Enter. You just added a new search in the Other Search Settings section. Now scroll up until you find that search.
  8. As you hover your mouse over your Google Encrypted search, you’ll see a little box appear to the right that says Make Default. Click on it. Your search will move into the Default Search Settings section & also become your new default search in the Chrome Omnibox.

In other words, you don’t need to preface the search with a keyword (like you do with the other searches); instead, you just type into the Omnibox, press Enter, & the words you typed are submitted to your default search engine.

Now I type Scott Granneman into the Chrome Omnibox, press Enter, & a few seconds later I see my list of results at https://encrypted.google.com. If I right-click on the first result & select Copy Link Address, this is what is copied:


Perfect. And as an added bonus, I get to uninstall an extension.

  1. Kill Evil does a lot more than just block Google’s click tracking, so it’s pretty cool. Note that you will have to whitelist some sites, like Google Drive, if you want to edit documents. To whitelist Google Drive, for instance, use ^https?://drive\.google\.com/. I discovered that you also need to whitelist Facebook or funky things happen (yes, you’re hardly killing evil if you can’t use it on Facebook, but there are other ways to nip Facebook), so use this: ^https?://www\.facebook\.com/

  2. Yes, I fully realize the irony. 

  3. For more on the difference between https://www.google.com & https://encrypted.google.com, see What is the difference between https://google.com and https://encrypted.google.com? at Stack Exchange.