Exact phrase search isn't what it used to be

Google has always allowed searching for an exact phrase enclosed in double quotes, for instance "Snow White" as opposed to the two words snow white, which would also match “white snow”, “snow was white”, or “snow wasn’t white”. It also used to allow leaving out the closing quote so that "Snow White would mean the same as "Snow White" allowing you to save keystrokes. At some point this stopped to work: without the closing quote exact phrase search doesn’t work with Google.

I propose several solutions:

  1. Use DuckDuckGo instead. DuckDuckGo’s web page index isn’t quite as large as Google’s, but this little search engine does a great job with its interface: it automatically adds more results to the page as you scroll down, has a lot of advanced features, and if it doesn’t find anything, it offers a link to Google search. You will love it.

  2. Use Microsoft’s Bing instead. Bing has probably the second largest index to Google. Search results are usually almost as good as Google’s.

  3. Update 17 October: Use Qoogle, a nifty invention of my own that automatically fills in the closing quote in your Google search as needed. It can be added as a custom search engine to Firefox, Opera, or iCab (instructions included).

    [Note for the curious: Qoogle is based on a JavaScript hack embedded in a data URL. The JavaScript completes the quotes on your computer, and then the query goes straight to Google. You can also add the search URL to your browser manually if you wish. That was my original idea before I made the Qoogle page, which is easier to use. Here’s how to do it manually:

    In iCab (desktop version), go to search preferences and set this URL for Google:

    In iCab Mobile, go to search engine settings and set this URL for Google:

    In Opera, go to search preferences and set this Address (in Details) for Google:

    A few comments about the major browsers: I tried to package the hack into an OpenSearch plug-in for Firefox (and IE 7, and Google Chrome), but I wasn’t able to get a plug-in with a data search URL work in Firefox, so I gave up. Sadly, Apple’s Safari officially does not allow custom search engines (not even through the new extension API). End of note.]

Happy exact-phrase-searching!

Update 7 November: Qoogle and the above hacks updated not to clutter your browsing history (and thus do not interfere with the Back button) anymore.