Windows

Integrate your favorite search engine into Windows Vista

Increase the usefulness of Microsoft Windows Vista by adding Google to Vista's Start Search feature and as the default search provider in Internet Explorer 7's Instant Search box. In this Windows Vista Report, Greg Shultz shows you how to configure Vista to take advantage of these search tweaks.

If you've read the July 18th edition of the Windows Vista Report titled "My six favorite Sidebar Gadgets," you know that I use Search Gadget in the Vista Sidebar because it allows me to quickly and easily launch a search on my preferred search engine: Google.

Well, I was recently updating my collection of Sidebar gadgets and after weighing the pros and cons, decided to ditch Search Gadget in favor of another more useful gadget. In any case, it wasn't too long before I found myself missing Search Gadget and its instant access to Google. However, rather than putting it back on the Sidebar, I decided to look for an alternative.

After a bit of investigation, I discovered two very satisfactory alternatives. First, I discovered that I could add Google to Vista's Start Search feature. Second, I discovered that I could make Google the default search provider in Internet Explorer 7's Instant Search box. Since I've found both of these alternatives to be extremely useful, I decided to pass them on to you.

In this edition of the Windows Vista Report, I'll show you how to add Google to Vista's Start menu and to Internet Explorer 7. I'll then show you how to take advantage of these two techniques.

This blog post is also available in the PDF format in a TechRepublic download.

Customizing Vista's Start Search feature

Back in September 2006, I covered Vista's Start Search feature in the article "A deeper look at Windows Vista's integrated search feature." While the operating system was still in the Release Candidate stage at the time that I wrote that article, Start Search was a fully developed feature so that information is still current. You may want to take a look at that article if you want to learn more about the Vista's Search feature.

Fortunately, you can make Vista's Start Search feature even more useful by adding Google to it. To do so, you'll use the Local Group Policy Editor, which you can launch by pressing [Windows]+[R], typing gpedit.msc in the Run dialog box, and clicking OK. When you do, you'll encounter a UAC and will need to respond accordingly.

Once the Local Group Policy Editor launches, drill down through the following folders in the tree:

User ConfigurationAdministrative TemplatesWindows ComponentsInstant Search
You'll then see the Custom Instant Search Internet Search provider policy setting, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

You'll modify the Custom Instant Search Internet Search provider policy setting in the Local Group Policy Editor.

Now, double-click the Custom Instant Search Internet Search provider policy setting to open the properties dialog box. At this point, click the Enabled button and the two text boxes in the panel will become active. As soon as they do, type Search Google in the first one and the following URL in the second:

http://www.google.com/search?q=%w
Your Custom Instant Search Internet Search provider Properties dialog box will look like the one shown in Figure B.

Figure B

Be sure that you type the URL carefully to ensure that the Google Search will work correctly.
At this point, click OK and then close the Local Group Policy Editor. Now, you'll need to apply the new policy setting. To do so, press [Windows]+[R] to access the Run dialog box, type cmd.exe, and click OK. When the Command Prompt windows opens, type gpupdate/force, press [Enter], and wait for the success message, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

You'll use the gpupdate/force command to update the Local Group Policy.
Now, when you're working and decide that you want to conduct a search on Google, all you have to do is click the Start button and type a word in the Start Search box. You'll then see Search Google appear below the See All Results and Search The Internet Search options, as shown in Figure D.

Figure D

You'll now find Search Google on the Start menu when you type in the Start Search box.
When you select the Search Google option, Internet Explorer will appear and transport the search query you typed in the Start Search box directly to Google, and you'll instantly see the results page, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E

The Google search results will instantly display in Internet Explorer.

Customizing Internet Explorer 7's Instant Search feature

Making Google the default search provider for Internet Explorer 7's Instant Search feature is actually a very easy procedure. To begin, launch Internet Explorer as you normally would and then click the drop-down arrow adjacent to the magnifying glass icon in the Instant Search box. Once the menu appears, select the Find More Providers command, as shown in Figure F.

Figure F

Once the menu appears, select the Find More Providers command.
When you do, Internet Explorer will open the Add Search Providers To Internet Explorer page, as shown in Figure G. This page on Microsoft's site lists the search providers from which you can choose.

Figure G

From this page, you can select a new search provider for Internet Explorer.
Now, just select Google (or any search provider you prefer) from the Web Search list. When you do, you'll see the Add Search Provider dialog box, shown in Figure H, which basically prompts you to accept the change. To continue, select the Make this my default search provider check box and click the Add Provider button.

Figure H

Select the Make This My Default Search Provider check box and click the Add Provider button.
You'll now see Google appear in the Instant Search box, as shown in Figure I.

Figure I

Google will now be your default search provider.

Now, when you're in Internet Explorer and want to conduct a search on Google, all you have to do is type your search term in the search box and click OK. You'll then instantly see the results page.

Will you customize the search features?

Now that you know how to add Google to Vista's Start menu and to Internet Explorer 7, will you do so? Please drop by the Discussion area and let us hear from you.

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

20 comments
juaneryle
juaneryle

Thank you. I needed that tip!

tehmina.akhtar
tehmina.akhtar

Adding Google to Vista Start menu is an awesome idea, makes life so much easier for Google lovers. Thanks for that. Tina

ManfredBaur
ManfredBaur

First I think Greg hasn't installed SP1 yet, otherwise Search wouldn't be on the start menu list. Second, I have a bit of a problem with Google, they already know too much about me and I don't want them to know more than they already do.

pwright2
pwright2

I wish the hotshot columnists would verify what versions of Vista these tips work in. Windows Vista Home Premium (HA!) doesn't seem to have a gpedit.msc.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

I search Google and other search engines dozens of times a day, so this Windows Vista Report will be extremely useful to me. But what about you? Will you apply this Vista tweak to your desktop? Why not? Have you implemented this tip already? What do you think of it?

rpbert4
rpbert4

I can't find gpedit in my computer either. I have Visra Home Premium. I searched Tech repubic and found an article on how to find it it XP but it didn't help finding it Vista. I have SP1 installed.

HBE
HBE

You cannot add the Group Policy Editor to the home versions. However, you can usually get by without the Group Policy Editor in the home versions of Vista. The vast majority of the settings in group policy can be made with direct registry edits, if you are comfortable with editing the registry. Go to the following website and download the Group Policy Settings Reference. This is an Excel spreadsheet that contains all of the group policy settings with a description of each setting and the corresponding location in the registry for each setting. Download details: Group Policy Settings Reference: http://tinyurl.com/y6epj7 (VISTA REG REFERENCE - linking to microsoft technet) cheers, HBE

boydo
boydo

I spent 15 minutes trying to find this or alternatives, and it was a waste of time.

rcrewsvfx
rcrewsvfx

GPEdit is a standard Administrator Tool in all Windows products. Its for managing/editing Group Policy on the Local level in this case. The gpedit.msc needs to be typed on the start>run>open dropdown box to run/open. I believe you can type it in the command prompt too to run/open. On another note, This is a pretty cool little feature I didn't know about. I added it to the IE7 on XP Pro in the Office. Thanks Greg.

bulk
bulk

Useful tip, and one that I can pass on to my customers as "added value". Thanks, RS

kizersosay28
kizersosay28

If you have Google set as your default search engine then simply typing in your search, and clicking search internet should do the same thing. I use Fire Fox as my default browser and Google as my default search engine, and this has always worked for me without doing any of the steps mentioned in this article. Of course I don't have search Google in my start menu, but I don't need it.

DanielRP
DanielRP

the local group policy isn't in home premium

pwright2
pwright2

Thank you for verifying the lack of gpedit on our versions but let me point out that all these versions are used on LANs. True, not domain LANs, but LANs nonetheless. MS created this artificial division for their own uses. The big question is still whether Shultz is aware of the differences. As far as I can tell, no more than 40% or so of the Vista sales are versions that have gpedit.

croman.pr
croman.pr

If you are a LAN Administrator you must know that gpedit.msc is available only on those Windows platforms use on Local ARea Network (XP Professional, NOT XP HOME EDITION, Vista Ultimate NOT VISTA HOME PREMIUM, Windows 2000 Professional. Hope this will help.

croman.pr
croman.pr

The Group Local Policy Management Console is absent in Vista Home Premium. Don't look further.

lbindustries1
lbindustries1

GPEdit in every other Windows Platform, I think that you had better have another look at XP Home. GPEdit is not available, only in XP PRO.

rcrewsvfx
rcrewsvfx

I apologise then...... I would just do a search for Group Policy Editor in the search option from the start menu and see what comes up for you then. I know GPEdit is a standard Administrator Tool in every other Windows Platform....

fshaunmcp
fshaunmcp

Has any reader with Home Premium been able to run gpedit.msc since I could not find it either? Shaun

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