The search box in the Windows start menu can only be used to find files on the local computer system or connected network drives by default. Microsoft has improved the capabilities of Windows Search in Windows Vista and Windows 7, to make the search more flexible and direct. What many users do not know is that it can be customized to initiate Internet searches as well.
Users of Windows Vista Business, Ultimate or Enterprise, and Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate or Enterprise, can enable Internet search in the Group Policy Editor. The editor can be launched by entering gpedit.msc in the Windows Start Menu search form, or by pressing Windows-R, typing gpedit.msc and hitting enter.
The location Local Computer Policy > User Configuration > Start Menu and Taskbar contains the preference "Add Search Internet link to Start Menu". A double-click opens the configuration window, where the preference can be enabled. This enables Internet Search in the start menu.
The Start Menu does not look different than before. The changes become obvious during searches only.
A Search the Internet link has been added to the results page which leads to a search in the default web browser.
The option to enable Internet search in the start menu in editions of Windows Vista and Windows 7 that do not offer access to the Group Policy Editor is not available. The only somewhat comparable option is to add the address toolbar to the Windows Taskbar. But that option can only open website urls, and not searches.
Is there another option? Let us know in the comments.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.