Google allows you to set the background to an image as announced on the Official Google Blog and if you don’t set it to something, starting last night, Google sets it to random images for you with no option to go without. Google Help has some details about the new “feature”: “Images must be at least 800 x 600 pixels and in one of the following formats: .jpeg, .tif, .tiff, .bmp, .gif, .psd (Photoshop), .png, .tga, and selected RAW formats.”
Hmm… this looks a bit like their competitor, Microsoft’s Bing.
Fortunately, I’ve come up with 5 options to get rid of this.
1. Blank it!
You have to sign into your Google Account in order to change the Google Image. Click the link in the lower-left corner titled ‘Change Background Image’. Sign into your Google Account if prompted and then upload a blank white 800×600 image to Google.
It’s not perfect because afterwards you’ll be looking at this less-picturesque version of Google, but at least it’s less distracting.
2. Block it!
If you have an Ad blocking add-on installed in your browser like Ad-Block Plus for Firefox, you can set some rules to filter the images. Right-click on the ABP icon and click ‘Open blockable items…’ It’ll pull up a list like pictured below. Right-click on the images/background/p##.jpg line and choose ‘Block this item…’.
This will bring up a window for adding filter rules. Choose the option that allows you to block http://www.google.com/images/background/* and hit Ok.
Unfortunately, by blocking the background images you’ll end up with the same all-white Google seen above as a result of using a white background.
3. Secure it!
Note the ‘s’ in the https://. Not only are you searching distraction free but you’re also using encryption to keep anyone between you and Google from seeing what you’re searching.
4. iGoogle it!
If you used iGoogle, you may not have even noticed the new backgrounds plus it allows you to add different widgets that allow for different things like previewing your Gmail inbox, Google Reader feeds, weather, and a whole lot of others.
5. Bing it!
If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Bing’s use of the image seems to be a bit better integrated and less distracting. Try out Microsoft Bing as your new primary search engine.
6. Wait for it!
Google just implemented a change so that you can remove the background wallpaper immediately and get back to the standard Google.com you’re used to. From their blog announcement:
Update June 10, 11:31AM: Last week, we launched the ability to set an image of users’ choosing as the background for the Google homepage. Today, we ran a special “doodle” that showcased this functionality by featuring a series of images as the background for our homepage. We had planned to run an explanation of the showcase alongside it—in the form of a link on our homepage. Due to a bug, the explanatory link did not appear for most users. As a result, many people thought we had permanently changed our homepage, so we decided to stop today’s series early. We appreciate your feedback and patience as we experiment and iterate.