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April 17, 2007

How to Disable Google Personalized Search

In February, Google Personalized Search got out of beta and was enabled by default in every Google account. To personalize your search results, Google uses more sources, the most important one being search history. You can pause or even delete the search history, but you may find it useful for future reference.

If you don't want personalized search results, Google recommends to log out, but this may not be the best option if you use other Google services at the same time (for example, you edit a document in Google Docs).

The "deus ex machina" in this story is the pws parameter that can be added to the address of a search results page to control the personalization.

This URL corresponds to a search for [Google blog] without personalization:
http://www.google.com/search?q=google+blog&pws=0.

Try it when you're logged in and compare it to:
http://www.google.com/search?q=google+blog.

How to temporarily disable Google Personalized Search? Add &pws=0 in the address bar at the end of a Google search URL. Or drag this bookmarklet to your bookmark toolbar:

26 comments:

  1. Does not work.
    The 'pws=0' paramter seems to be ignored.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It works, Dominik, but try it for queries for which Google shows you personalized results. When you get personalized results, Google displays: "Personalized Results 1 - 10 of about...", in contrast to the typical "Results 1 - 10 of about...".

    Hint: Google shows personalized results for queries similar to (related to) previous queries from your search history.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The script is way too simple not to work.

    ReplyDelete
  4. like dominik said: the pws=0 paramter seems to be ignored.

    is there any other solution to this? :-)

    ReplyDelete
  5. The pws parameter and logging out are the only solutions if you want to use google.com. You can also try direct IP addresses like http://72.14.209.99/ or other sites that use Google's results (AOL Search, Netscape Search).

    Note that only few queries show personalized results, so setting pws=0 doesn't have any effect if the search results page isn't personalized. Try it for queries you repeat often or for general search terms ("news", "music" etc).

    ReplyDelete
  6. This has absolutely no effect on the jamming and flood systems fron us dhs and customs that targetedly prevent legitimate search results.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Do you have Personalized Search turned on in your Google account?

    ReplyDelete
  8. try turning off your web history. That prevents the personalized search from using your previous activity to modify the serps

    ReplyDelete
  9. Why not to open another installed browser for your un-personalized search? ;)
    Anyway the pws=0 solution does not work for me too (google.it).

    ReplyDelete
  10. is everyone adding &pws=0 or just pws=0
    the ampersand is important.

    ReplyDelete
  11. - download and install: "hijackthis" ...(search in google)
    - then activate all points for searches on "very top of the list"
    - go to "ie" and takeagain google as start-page.

    it rocks

    ReplyDelete
  12. Personalized search is terrible! Turn it off entirely!

    ReplyDelete
  13. It works, Dominik, but try it for queries for which Google shows you personalized results. When you get personalized results, Google displays: "Personalized Results 1 - 10 of about...", in contrast to the typical "Results 1 - 10 of about...".

    Hint: Google shows personalized results for queries similar to (related to) previous queries from your search history.

    ReplyDelete
  14. A note for those saying it did not work, it is not "pws=0", it is "&pws=0" without the quotes. If you use Chrome there is an easy Chrome hack video to show you how to permanently add &pws=0 to every search query so that you don't have to click the "turn off" link after every search which is very annoying...

    http://youtu.be/yhUwPPDAtec?hd=1

    ReplyDelete
  15. thanks Anonymous..really a nice video and informative.........

    ReplyDelete
  16. The greasemonkey script doesn't seem to work, I think it's for an older evrsion of the google interface. If you want a greasemonkey script that automatically adds &pws=0 tot he end of a google URL try this:

    // ==UserScript==
    // @name Google Depersonalization
    // @namespace foo.bar
    // @description Lets you disable Google Personalized Search.
    // @include http://*.google.*/search?*
    // ==/UserScript==

    var l=location.href;
    var s1=l.lastIndexOf("&pws=0");
    if (s1<1){
    window.location.href = window.location.href + "&pws=0";
    }

    ReplyDelete
  17. What does pws stand for? Personalised w... search? Im having trouble remembering this and thought it might help to know what the letters mean. Thank you

    ReplyDelete
  18. I have a VB app that uses the WebBrowser component to load a Google search. The URL uses &num=100&pws=0 but now I'm only getting 10 results per page and not 100 per page. I'm logged out of all Google accounts when running my VB app.

    The pws=0 used to work in my app (up to a few months ago) but now it appears that it does nothing and I get 10 results per page in my app regardless of the &num=100 param.

    Interestingly enough my Google settings have 10 results per page set". So why isn't the &pws=0 over-riding this setting/cookie?

    Anyone have any ideas?

    =Frankie

    ReplyDelete
  19. You guys put "pws=0" at the end of your search string in the URL? It's supposed to be "&pws=0". If you left out the & it will not work, you're right, but did it wrong. Just an observation from the posts I see here.

    Plus on each result set you have to put "&pws=0" or it will not work, e.g. you go from the first result page to the next you have to add the "&pws=0" again, and so on and so forth. I hope this helps.

    Harry Fassett
    SEO Specialist and www.snackhealthysnacks.com Independent Distributor of healthy snacks. 30 day no questions asked guarantee.

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  20. Why cant google place a option for this. Showing the same results will not give more information

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  21. this is most annoying. Now, yahoo search is looking like a better option.

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  22. I used to use scroogle.org, but now it seems that Google is continuously disabling their ip's.

    ReplyDelete
  23. DuckDuckGo.com ---no tracking/no bubbling :)

    ReplyDelete