Friday, January 22, 2021

Restoring the 'Quick Edit' Tools, Version 2.0

A green young plant sprouts from the dirt

The removal of the quick-edit tools has made Blogger harder to use.

Here's how to get them back, at least for now.

Update: Google has reversed course on this—at least for the present.

Crossed wrench and screwdriver iconThe quick-edit tools let you jump from your blog page to edit. Some of us find them really useful, and they vanished on January 20.

The trick is to use a browser extension that lets you unhide the tools.

I am running this successfully on Chrome right now.

Do It In Your Browser

Most of the browsers have some extensions that will let you edit the formatting of websites when viewed through the browser. Chrome has Stylebot, Safari has Cascadea, Firefox has Stylus, and there are others.

I don't regularly use these and can't endorse or advise, but here is how it works in Stylebot (for Chrome).
  1. Install Stylebot from the Chrome web store (it is free).
  2. Navigate to Stylebot from the new Stylebot menu (it is a tiny black square with an S in it at upper right).
  3. Choose "Options."
  4. From there, select Styles > Add new style.
  5. In that window, for each blog, specify the blog url and the formatting instructions, then save.
The formatting instructions are as follows:
.item-control {display:initial;}
Those formatting instructions should work on any of the extensions for any of the browsers. You can just paste that in.

If that seems like too much, you may be satisfied with another solution that makes the icons active and clickable, but also invisible.

Update: This same formatting instruction will also show the "delete" link under each comment.

In any case, that's the tutorial. Stick around for the discussion if you like.

How It Works (and what's going on)

These browser extensions intercept the formatting instructions from a website and let you substitute your own, which get passed on to the browser's rendering routines. 

So you can use Stylebot et al. to make text darker or bigger or bolder, if you like.

In this case, we are using it to override the default instructions of "display:none" for the element "item control." Do that, and you can see it again.

Since this happens on the level of your personal browser, it does not change how your blog looks to the world. (And even if your readers could see the quick-edit option, it wouldn't work for them.)

So why did Google make this change? Why is "display:none" the default that we have to use these heroic measures to override?

A Theory of Google

I do not know, but I think this is another accident, or collateral damage. 

I don't think the folks at Google woke up on January 20, twirled their collective moustache, and said, "What new horror can we inflict on our users today?"

Rather, I think someone (at Google, but no not necessarily at Blogger) threw a switch and the ball rolled down the slot and struck the plate that moved the hammer that

Rube Goldberg's "self operating napkin"

anyway you get the idea.

As Exhibit A, I will suggest that "display:none" has always been the default for Blogger themes, since the controls are generally hidden. 

You being able to see them (and only on your blog) is the special case.

So the change could be in how Blogger "knows" you are you—the person who is supposed to see the pencil.

Safari for one has long blocked third-party cookies for legitimate privacy issues. Maybe everybody is going to do that now.

Or maybe Google is twirling its moustache after all. 

cartoon villian with black hat and twirly moustache

From top: Sprouting plant by lanailic, Rube Goldberg, villain by JJ.

56 comments:

  1. Worked like a charm. Thanks a lot!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Quite sneaky, and quite likely beyond most Bloggers' capability. The whole point about Blogger, as you have repeatedly pointed out in previous posts, is that is is supposed to be easy, and merely a way that users can publish their own topics of interest (or whatever takes their fancy).

    However, I am curious as to whether there is any way this can be done within the "Customise theme" area of Blogger itself?

    Jx

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    Replies
    1. @Jon, the solutions that do that (one in previous post, one linked to above) share the defect that whatever changes are made apply to all viewers.

      But if that is acceptable, that approach may be easier for some.

      Delete
  3. YOU WIN THE INTERNET TODAY: thank you for this. I will give it a try and, even better, I have learned some useful things here I did not know. I teach online and all my students blog, most of them using Blogger, so I feel better ready to answer their questions now. VERY MUCH APPRECIATED!

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  4. OK - I tried it: installed Stylus add-on, pasted the code, and...

    IT WORKED! Yay! Jx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jon. Sorry as a total tecno-pillock I am struggling. I have installed Stylus on firefox. Opened it and gone to options but cannot work out where to paste what. Any help would be great as trying to revamp lots of old posts and this would make it easier, thanks.

      Delete
    2. When it's installed you just click the "S" icon from the home page of your blog (top right in the menu bar), then click the title of your blog and you get a blank box into which you paste the code (in Adam's post above) there, and click "save" (in the left-hand menu). Scroll down and you'll see the pencil has returned. Hope that helps. Jx

      Delete
    3. I'm lost too! I wish I could post a screen shot so you might be able to tell me what I have done wrong. I believe I followed the instructions, but no pencil.

      Delete
    4. @Fx: As noted above, Google has resolved this problem, at least for the time being.

      I see that you have many blogs; my guess is that you are experiencing this on a blog with a theme that does not support the quick-edit tools under any circumstances.

      In any case, the place to take knotty problems is the Blogger Help Community, link in sidebar at right.

      Delete
    5. Adam, thank you so very much!

      Delete
  5. You have just made an old man happy.
    Thank you.

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  6. Thank you so very much, you made my day!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi there, I mentioned this problem to my collaborator, and she gave me this great workaround:

    go into "new post" in the upper right of the screen. the list of everything you already have will come up.

    click on "published" of the piece you want to edit and the draft will come up. make your changes and then click "update".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've been doing this since the Edit pencil vanished but it such a pain to do. It's on the left side of my screen however under POSTS (All, Draft, Published, etc)

      Delete
  8. As stated above, this works like a charm! I'm a grief counselor, not a computer technician, and even I managed to apply your solution! I am ever so grateful. Blessings to you, and thank you! (griefhealingblog.com)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Marty, the promise of Blogger has always been that you don't have to be a techy to have a blog. Which makes moments like this disappointing.

      Nonetheless your response and those of others here suggest this workaround is at least within reach for many users, without having to go back to school in computer science.

      Delete
    2. Exactly, Adam. If I can do it, anyone can. Again, thank you so much for being there for folks like me!

      Delete
  9. Amazing! I just downloaded Cascadea and after a couple of minutes I have the pencil and sidebar tools back. Thanks for pointing your readers to this app — I've scanned the (meager) list of Safari extensions often, and I had no idea that such an app was available.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So, that's positive reports (in thread) from the other 2 major platforms, Safari/Cascadea and Firefox/Stylus. (Any my own experience with Chrome/Stylebot.)

      There are other add-ins of this type for these browsers, and also other browsers, but it is a validation of the overall approach.

      Delete
  10. Thanks, Adam, for this hack. I am OLD and I was frustrated with the disappearance of the little pencil. Now it is back. Good for you.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I'm on Firefox, I looked at the Stylus add-on. The conditions for use seem onerous. Is this a safe add-on? I have added the css snippet, so the pencil is back, so that's good. Anyway, is Stylus ok? I'm so paranoid I don't put apps on my phone. Thank you for this and your other posts, I appreciate you taking the time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Allison, I think your caution is wise. Unfortunately, as I said in my post, I don't have enough experience to endorse any of these.

      What I would do is consider the reputation of the extension, Has it been around for a while, is it highly rated? If you google it, do you uncover any news stories about malign behavior? Does Mozilla (who makes FireFox) have anything to say about it? I assume they would remove anything that they knew was bad, but I do not know how careful they are about screening web apps.

      Delete
  12. Thank you very much! Works!!!
    I just discovered that you can list all your blogs in the first line, separated by commas. Instead of setting many separate "styles".

    ReplyDelete
  13. Any solution for Vista users who can't update Firefox anymore or add extensions? Asking for a friend....

    Lou

    ReplyDelete
  14. Well done and thank you so much. It worked straight away, it looked difficult at first (being a novice), but followed your instructions implicit and I am well pleased you have sorted this for us. Thank you so much.

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  15. Tremendous. Saved me loadsa time.
    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Your blog is extremely helpful and well written. Thanks. It took me a while to get used to the new blogger interface after using the old version on other blogs, but I like it now. I hope blogger will always be around as my theme is designed for it and XML file backups can fail, and sometimes don't save ALL posts. Steven from Film Guide. https://www.filmguideonline.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
  17. The removal of quick edit icon has happened previously. It took about a week or so for Google to repair the problem. When I tried to edit an old post by using the edit feature in the blog list, the post reverted to a 2013 blog post which did not have the subsequent edits.

    This latest disappearance of the edit button is associated with others that I encountered this morning.

    Those include a failure to remember my Google password and a reintroduction of previously saved passwords from other sites that had been deleted over 2 months ago.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, @Tennindependent. I don't think all of those problems are related, but I hope you get your blog back.

      Delete
  18. This worked like a dream! Thank you.

    I would like to also restore in Safari via Cascadea. Same basic instructions? There's a charge for Cascadea, so want to make sure before I buy.

    Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. John, you may wish to see the comment from @capriole, below, before you buy anything. But at least one person has confirmed that Cascadea works as expected.

      Delete
    2. I took the plunge, bought Cascadea ($2.99), used capriole's code below, and, bingo!, the tools are back in Safari. An added bonus is I can now comment using Safari, which has also been on the blink. Thank you! This is great day. :)

      Delete
  19. I use Safari and as Cascadea extension is not free, i tried using the extension userscripts. It just works like a charm. I absolutely thank you very much.
    Here is the code, i typed in:

    // ==UserScript==
    // @name NewScript-4d6ht
    // @description This is your new userscript, start writing code
    // @match *://HERE PUT YOUR DOMAIN OR SOMETHING; SO THAT THE USERSCRIPT ONLY APPLIES THERE*
    // ==/UserScript==
    .item-control {display:initial;}

    i hit save in the right corner on the bottom, refreshed, and everything is there again! Thank you!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, @capriole. As I've said, I do not know these tools very well at all. I hope your tip will help others.

      Delete
  20. Noice! Works well. I thought maybe someone at Google discovered some security hole that would let anyone edit my blog and killed it with prejudice. Seems more like that someone somewhere tweaked a style sheet.

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    Replies
    1. Mes Amis, I suspect it is more fundamental than that!

      Delete
  21. Adding Stylebot to Chrome worked first time to show the quick edit pencil. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thank you so much. Your Stylebot instructions were perfect and my edit tools are back!

    ReplyDelete
  23. I am so frigginly obfuscated about this issue that it will take me some days to dispose myself to apply the Stylus hack, this is very very discouraging :-///
    I spent hours detailing the look of every inch of my blog and just to think that it might be possible that the stupid quick edit buttom could be visible for my readers is very frustrating.
    Just to think that Google (or Blogger) has these untrustable inconsistencies just turns all my alerts on. I now feel an unbearable need to save all my contents, even if i need to copy-paste them manually. It makes me feel this blogger, which for many years was for me like home, a hostile place to blog my stuff. Running out of my 'technical' patience.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @Naxos, I have many of the same feelings. I am pleased that the browser-extension idea seems to help a lot of people to restore this particular functionality without affected readers, but it is a pain in the neck!

      Delete
  24. My only concern is the warning when you go to add skyebot as an extension. (It can read and change all your data on websites you visit). Maybe i worry too much at 78

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    Replies
    1. Hank, the same notice also gave me pause when I installed Stylebot. However, it describes exactly what these extensions do: change the website you visit. So, it is not unexpected!

      Delete
  25. Just to clarify, this only gets back the edit tools (and the delete button) for me, right? My issue is commenters right now are complaining about the lack of the Delete link. It seems the only solution to fix that for everyone is to wait for Google/Blogger to fix it, right?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The same code is hiding both features. I have just published a post about that in this blog.

      What you have to remember is that using a browser extension in this way only affects what you see on that browser. It does not help your readers unless they use a similar extension.

      You can change the code on your blog for everyone. However, it will show delete links for every comment (although these links will not actually work for everyone).

      Delete
  26. Works, thank you! How absurd that this was necessary.

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  27. OK, while Chrome has Stylebot, Safari has Cascadea, and Firefox has Stylus, does Microsoft Edge have any similar extentions?

    ReplyDelete
  28. Thanks a million, Adam!
    (Blogger shows the icon as usual @WIn7, fabulous haha)

    ReplyDelete
  29. All things come to those who wait Pencil Cogs all back today and i didnt do a thing after all Great.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I decided to wait it out for a couple more days before using your fix, and my patience was rewarded -- this morning, the pencil is back.

    ReplyDelete
  31. If I remove my Cascadea style, there’s no pencil showing in Safari unless I allow cross-site tracking. Allowing cross-site tracking is what I had to do in recent weeks when I wanted to get back the pencil. So Cascadea is still the option for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @Michael, Safari users have had these issues since May. We got a taste of that for five days this month.

      Apple is, with some justification leading the charge against third-party tracking cookies. It makes me think we have not seen the last of this.

      Delete
  32. No need to install an extension. Thanks for your explanation. I took your idea, but just made a change in the theme. Go to Theme, click CUSTOMIZE. Go to Advanced, scroll down to the last "Add CSS". Just copy ".item-control {display:initial;}" there. Et, viola!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @z, That was my original suggestion. Most people did not like the way it showed the quick-edits to their readers.

      But, isn't this academic? Since Google fixed it. Or has the problem returned for you?

      Delete