This article is written for Google Workspace for Education administrators.

Google gives you ability to search images and the web with the Explore feature in Docs and Slides. It's a convenient feature overall, but it's not 100% safe. Students can easily find contents unintended and harmful. Though SafeSearch is enforced, inappropriate images or age-restricted websites still pop up in front of students' eyes. For example, search girls in bikini in Explore's search bar will display tons of skins.

The Explore feature in Google Docs allows you to search images and websites
The Explore feature in Google Docs allows you to search images and websites

The article shows you how Safe Doc can disable this feature. If you have yet to install Safe Doc, please get a 30 days trial.

How Safe Doc blocks the Explore feature?

Safe Doc removes many places that can trigger the Explore sidebar.

First of all, Safe Doc removes the Explore side bar in the bikini screenshot above. Then Safe Doc blocks the Explore widget and the Explore menu items. The Explore feature in Docs and Slides are almost the same.

Safe Doc removes the Explore widget in Google Docs
Safe Doc removes the Explore widget in Google Docs
Safe Doc removes the Explore menu item in Tools
Safe Doc removes the Explore menu item in Tools
Safe Doc removes the Explore menu item and the widget in Google Slides
Safe Doc removes the Explore menu item and the widget in Google Slides

When you add a link to any words, Google Docs (also in Slides, Drawings) will prompt you relevant search results and links as you type the keywords. Some links are not kids-appropriate, e.g. the keywords how to kill suggest links like I want to kill my myself or 'If You Want to Kill Someone, We are the Right Guys' in the follow screenshot. Safe Doc removes these links.

Safe Doc removes the link suggestions in Google Docs
Safe Doc removes the link suggestions in Google Docs

Students can trigger Exploring any keywords by selecting the keywords and click the Explore 'xxxxx' option in the context menu. That opens the side Explore panel and shows all search results related to the keywords. Safe Doc removes this Explore 'xxxxx' menu item. These menu items also exist in Google Sheets or Drawing.

Safe Doc removes the 'Explore xxxx' context menu item that triggers the Explore side panel
Safe Doc removes the 'Explore xxxx' context menu item that triggers the Explore side panel

Why not disable the Explore feature in Sheets?

Sheets has an Explore widget too. However, unlike the one in docs or slides, the Explore feature in sheets does not expose the internet to students. It's all about the insights for data within the sheet. From Google's support page, it shows you can ask questions about the sheet data, add alternating color backgrounds automatically, get charts or analysis etc. None of these will cross the fence. Therefore, Safe Doc leaves it out.

Explore feature in Sheets does not search the internet
Explore feature in Sheets does not search the internet

How to configure in Safe Doc?

First of all, make sure you have deployed Safe Doc and read Safe Doc Configuration.

At out-of-the-box, Safe Doc blocks the Explore feature. To stop Safe Doc from blocking the Explore feature, add the policy EnableExplore with the policy value false to your configuration.

"EnableExplore": {
  "Value": true
}

Final Words

Explore is a double-edged sword, which is fun to play but may hurt yourself.

Google Apps not only include the Explore feature that's potentially risky, but many other features that can be exploited by students, like image searching or video searching. Check out my other articles, how to Block Image Search in Google Apps?, disable Dictionary in Docs, or block video searching in Slides.