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November 23, 2011

Google's Broken Drop-Down Lists

Google has recently redesigned the advanced search page and removed two options that weren't used very often: finding pages that are similar to a page and pages that link to a page. You can use the similar: and link: operators and "similar pages" and still available in the Instant Preview pane, so the features haven't been removed.


What's disconcerting is that Google made drop-down lists a lot more difficult to use in the new interface. Until now, you could use the tab key to select a list, but this no longer works. After clicking a list, you could use the up/down arrows or Page Up / Page Down to move between the options, but you can no longer do that. It was much faster to type the first letters from the name of the language or the country to quickly find an item, but this is another feature that no longer works. Basically, the only way to use the new lists is to scroll up or down until you find the item you were looking for.


Google's lists are also inaccessible to screen readers, so they can't be used by people who are blind or visually impaired. The explanation is that Google now uses regular lists with custom styles instead of drop-down lists (or drop-down menus). Disable CSS and you can no longer select an item from the list.


You can check the old advanced search page at the Wayback Machine or the advanced image search page, which still uses the old interface.

Another service that makes drop-downs more difficult to use is Blogger. If you have a long list of labels, you can no longer find a label by typing the first letters.


Google Reader's new interface lets you use arrows to move between the items from a list, but you can no longer type some letters from a subscription's name in the "All items" drop-down. This was a non-standard featured added back in 2007, when Google Reader added a search engine.


Hopefully, Google will address these issues and will no longer remove basic features that are taken for granted by many users.

This blog is not affiliated with Google.