Collaboration

Quick Tip: Add Internet Search to the Windows 7 Start Menu

If you have a version of Windows 7 that includes the Group Policy Editor, you can add the option to search the Internet directly from your Desktop.

One of the features I like most about Microsoft Windows 7 is the ability to search for applications from the Start Menu search box. Rather than navigating through a long list of menus, you can just type the name of the application in the search box and immediately get a list matching what you are typing.

However, there is at least one thing missing from the search the Desktop technique -- the ability to search the Internet directly from your Desktop. But you can change that if you have a version of Windows 7 that incorporates the Group Policy Editor. The versions of Windows 7 that support the Group Policy Editor include:

  • Professional
  • Ultimate, and
  • Enterprise

If you have Starter or Home Premium, you will not be able to take advantage of this tip.

This blog post is also available as a TechRepublic Gallery and TechRepublic download.

Adding Internet Search

Under the default settings, the Start Menu (Figure A) has no option to search the Internet.

Figure A

No Internet search option is currently available.
To add the option to search the Internet, you have to run the Group Policy Editor. The easiest way to do that is by typing gpedit.msc into the search box (Figure B). Note: you may have to type the whole file name to see it in the search results.

Figure B

Type gpedit.msc in the search box.
When you get to the Local Policy Group Editor window (Figure C), navigate to this folder:

User Configuration/Administrative Templates/Start Menu and Taskbar

Double-click the Add Search Internet Link to Start Menu entry to get to the proper configuration screen.

Figure C

Double-click the Add Search Internet link to Start Menu entry.
On the Add Search Internet Link to Start Menu configuration screen (Figure D), click the Enabled radio button and then click Apply and OK.

Figure D

Click Enabled.
Now, the next time you conduct a search from the Start Menu you will have the option of applying those search terms to your default search engine in Internet Explorer, as you can see in Figure E.

Figure E

An Internet search is now an option.

Stay on top of the latest Microsoft Windows tips and tricks with TechRepublic's Windows Desktop newsletter, delivered every Monday and Thursday. Automatically sign up today!

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

10 comments
luismatoso
luismatoso

I have a search option in W7 start menu but also in Windows Vista. It's a good thing.

sam_bloomfield
sam_bloomfield

nice, but there is already an Internet search in the Address tool-bar. what would be really helpful would be if the start menu search REMEMBERED previous searches. Now that would be great!!

Daniel Breslauer
Daniel Breslauer

At my company we use it a lot, though personally I hate 'crippling' users' PCs (which it is usually used for) and try to keep the limitations to an absolute minimum.

Snak
Snak

Useful - eventually. My default search engine is Ask but when I implemented this cute tip, Google popped up every time. Even when I moved Ask to the top of the list, Google appeared when I clicked the Search Internet link. Of course removing google from my list of search engines fixed the problem. Result!

southacre
southacre

cannot finnd file gpedit.msc on my computer

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

What other tweaks can we make to Windows 7 with the Group Policy Editor? Do you search the Internet from your desktop?

markschu
markschu

Is there a way to configure so it opens the existing browser window and doesn't open a new one?

kevin
kevin

Look under User Configuration >>> Administrative Templates >>> Windows Components >>> Instant Search This is a spot where you can specify the search engine to be used which will override the default search engine.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

I wonder if there is a toolbar conflict, because it should use the default search engine.

NexS
NexS

This is an un-necessary tip. I only ever use Google to search and Google is my Web Browser Home Page. Not to mention that, by default, Firefox has a Firefox/Google Search home page, this tip adds extra mouse clicks and key strokes to get to a Web Search.

Editor's Picks