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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.

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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.

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About

Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.

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