Google’s Chrome browser to allow for picking a default search engine – but far from everyone gets a choice

chrome logo pointed at on laptop
(Image credit: Shutterstock ? Wachiwit)

Google is in the process of making a useful change to its Chrome browser on the desktop whereby users will get a choice of the search engine they want to use by default – but the catch is this is only happening in Europe.

Specifically, this change is incoming for the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA), as Ghacks spotted, with the move currently in testing (the Canary version of Chrome, hidden behind a flag).

How it works is that when you first fire up Chrome, the browser pops up with a panel asking you to choose your default search engine from a list.

The entries on that list are picked as they are popular options in your region, and of course they’ll doubtless include Google search, but Google may not come top of the list – in fact, the ordering is random. (But the selection isn’t random, because as noted, they are all popular in your particular area).

We’re told that Google plans to roll this out in early 2024, so within the next couple of months we’d guess, but only in Europe – other regions won’t be offered the chance to choose a default in this way.

Analysis: Come on Google, give this option to everyone

Okay, so it’s not like changing the default search engine in Chrome is a big deal – it’s a simple matter of going to the Settings panel for the web browser and clicking on the ‘search engine’ section (on the left-hand side).

However, less tech-savvy users may never do that, or even realize there’s a choice, so they’ll be left on Google search by default which is obviously in the search giant’s interest. If a panel pops up offering a selection of search engines, and other names the user has heard of aside from Google, they’re much more likely to think about and consider what engine they might want to go with.

Google already does this on Android, anyway, so you’d think it wouldn’t be too much to ask for desktop users to get the same courtesy – but as noted, it’s Europe-only. And the reason for this is that much like Microsoft in recent times, Google is having its arm twisted by European laws here.

In short, just as Microsoft is offering the choice to remove Edge or detach Bing from the search box in Windows 11 due to regulations, the same is true of Google here.

You might also like

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).