Bypassing the text field in Google’s Instant Search

I’m getting mildly peeved at the way Google’s changes are causing micro annoyances with accessibility. First it was Gmail, making it difficult to vocally click buttons in the full-featured Standard mode. Then it was Images, requiring you to mouse over image thumbnails to see where the images were coming from. Now it’s Instant Search.

Thanks to Google’s new improvement, navigating your search results could be a tad annoying at first if you use something besides a mouse. Instant Search forces the focus into the text box (much like Yahoo, which I avoid for that reason). So, if you’re using Mouseless Browsing or typeaheadfind.linksonly in Firefox, saying or typing a number or word will not focus the link, but instead make it appear in the text box. This is true for the first page of results only, as far as I can tell, so it’s not quite as big a deal, but some people might still want to get rid of it.

If you’re able to have cookies enabled, you can just click the “Instant is on” link, then go down and click the “do not use Instant” radio button and save the preferences. However, in order to click that link, you still have to get out of the text field. You can use Mouse Keys or your speech recognition’s Mouse Grid commands, but if being forced to mouse irritates you, there are a few other ways as well.

The easiest way is to just tab onto the Search button, then start spelling the link you want. But if you feel like doing things the hard way, try the following.

If you’re using Mouseless Browsing, please see the post Bypassing text fields in Mouseless Browsing. The post mentions Dragon but is also relevant to the keyboard. Note, however, that it won’t work if you’re using a keyboard without a number pad.

If you’re using linksonly, you can press Control F to bring up the text Find bar. If you spell or say the word and use find again if necessary, then press Escape, the focus will transfer to the link so that you can say or press Enter or Control Enter.

Finally, if you want to kill these improvements altogether, you can download NoScript. If you right-click the page and choose “Forbid” or similar under NoScript in the context menu, you can access Images in the standard way, and Instant Search will not function even though Google tells you it’s still turned on. Then you can search in the standard way. (If all you want is to kill the Google scripts, choose “Allow scripts globally” first.)

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