Those icons on your Windows Taskbar next to Search are part of Search Highlights
Back in March 2022, Microsoft unveiled the Search Highlights feature in recent Windows 11 Insider builds. The feature brings more MSN content to the Windows desktop by adding "notable and interesting moments" to Search, according to Microsoft.
Most home users may have no use for that, especially since Widgets, another MSN-powered service, is already a feature of the Windows 11 operating system. Microsoft announced that it would backport the Search Highlights feature to Windows 10, and launched it with KB5011543 to customer devices.
Disabling Search Highlights is easy, actually, but the feature is turned on by default. All users are exposed to it once it has been enabled by Microsoft.
Activation of the search interface displayed the highlights on the right of recent activity on the device. To give you an example of what you can expect from the feature: today, Microsoft informed me that it is National Prime Rib Day. It displayed a link to recipes, and some trending searches, which had nothing to do with the special day.
It is clear that most Windows home users have no need for that. Those who prefer local-searches only, and that is likely the majority, may turn off Search Highlights to get rid of the feature.
Users who sign-in with a work or education account may benefit more from it, as it may display files and other data from the organization.
Günter Born mentioned an addition to the feature that appears to be tested currently by Microsoft on customer devices. Instead of just displaying the search field on the Windows Taskbar, Microsoft appears to have added Search Highlights icons to the right-side of the field on some devices.
These icons represent what is important about the current day, according to Microsoft. Most Windows users may have no need for these extra icons on their taskbar, especially since they add quite a bit of color to it.
Good news is that these do not appear if you have Search Highlights disabled on your devices. Just right-click on the Windows taskbar and deselect Show Search Highlights under Search to get rid of the icons and the Search Highlights feature when opening the Search interface on the device.
As an added bonus, you do get a listing of top apps on the device, which you may then launch right away without having to run searches.
Now You: what is your take on Search Highlights?
I’m running Windows 7 on my system, and no kidding, have 620 Start Menu shortcuts. They’re all neatly categorized in folders and sub-folders, and I have absolutely NO problem whatsoever finding what I’m looking for without using the search feature. In Windows 10 and 11, Microsoft wants to tell me how to arrange my Start Menu and make things far more difficult for me. No thanks. I will only ever “upgrade” my laptop (not my main computer) to W11 if Open Shell (a freeware program) is made to run bug-free in it. I am not looking forward to the experience of doing the “upgrade”.
W7 was great. My father still uses it for working with no problem those days. Amazing OS really. I wonder why W11 is so bad designed, so bad itself for productivity purposes. Downgrading times.
Thanks for the helpful tips Those owls locked my whole Taskbar I’m doing a system restore but I’ll try your way if this doesn’t work
“National Prime Rib Day”, best local news ever. I will eat ribs today. About the article, Windows should let the user to decide what they want, a more configurable W11 will be welcome. Thanks for the article! :]
Windows 10 (x64) Version 21H2 (build 19044.1645)
Not interested at all.
Well, I have disabled Windows Search (I love Everything, WizFile, and UltraSearch), so I don’t think it will show up.
Anyway, I don’t want them to lack the “SDG2” perspective. The bloated features being added to those OSes go against SDG2.
Thanks for the fix.
Just ran windows update (after pausing it) and that weird icon in the taskbar annoyed me much more than it reasonably should.
Gone now and I can continue to pretty much ignore the windows search option.
It also annoyed me more than it “reasonably should” but it’s now gone here too – thank goodness!
I was unable to search for key words within folders on my windows 10 pc today, until I shut off the annoying and unwanted icons and notifications
What a joke Windows has become. I miss when Windows was for professionals.
“Microsoft appears to have added Search Highlights icons to the right-side of the field on some devices.”
Thank you friend! This was my problem. I was worried I wasn’t going to be able to find the right keywords to google to fix this. “windows taskbar search icon” isn’t that specific. BUT your page was there (with today’s date) – and was the only one of the first page results that addressed this.
Thank you friend!
Another unloved (by me) and unwanted “feature”
I use the search bar for two things – a programme (or App, if you insist) that I know I have but can’t find on the start bar or a document that I know I have but can’t find in the complex structure of files; work, personal, family and friends that I keep promising myself I’ll tidy – one day…
If I want to search the web, I’ll use a browser. If I want to search (unlikely) for “dish of the day” or “trending searches” I’ll choose that myself.
Thanks again and have a good day
After the latest update, these annoying icons showed up. Thank you for posting this solution!
Thank you, just appeared today and was bugging me something fierce.
Thank you so much, why do they add useless features like this to windows is beyond me. This annoyed me a lot more than it should. Even my machines with Windows 10 Pro had this annoying icon.
The icons I’ve seen so far have been relatively inoffensive (a little turtle etc.) but still distracting. I’m sure that when Microsoft’s usage metrics reach a certain threshold they will start filling it with the most disgusting kind of prog activism, so best to turn it off now before they get to that point.
Thank you, thank you ,thank you. that was an intrusive feature. Aggrevating, at best. Now if the use of grey fonts on everything for a color of font that can be easily seen and more readible, that would be great. Grey on white background might as well be invisible. it makes me feel as if I’m going blind.I just can not get the adjustment to where I can easily see the written or typed words to where I can see it well enough to read it without a struggle. terrible.
Your solution to ridding my computer of this POS was great, but a solution was hard to find at all. If MS is going to much around with our systems without our knowledge, couldn’t it at least make it easy to find out how to get rid of its useless additions?