Microsoft is experimenting with a search widget on Windows 11's taskbar

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 13, 2022
Updated • Jun 13, 2022
Windows 11 News

Microsoft runs several experiments in the latest Windows 11 version 23H2 build that place widgets in different locations on the taskbar for some setups.

windows 11 search widget left taskbar

One of the latest experiments places a search field on the leftmost position of the Windows 11 taskbar, if taskbar icons are centered and not aligned to the left.

Microsoft changed the default layout of the Windows taskbar to centered in the Windows 11 operating system. An option to align taskbar icons to the left was added to give users the option to restore the classic taskbar layout. The company did remove lots of functionality from the taskbar in Windows 11, including the ability to place it to the sides or at the top. Third-party programs, such as Stardock's Start11 or Taskbar 11, restore the option to place the taskbar at the top, but some options can't be restored this way.

After experimenting with a floating search widget (check here if you want to know how to activate it) in recent Windows 11 Insider builds, Microsoft launched a new search widget test; this time, the search widget is located on the taskbar of the operating system.

Windows 11 displays a search icon by default next to the start menu, but the new test removes the icon from its default location and places it, as a search field, on the leftmost position on the taskbar. The weather widget icon, that has been displayed in that position before, is placed to its right side in the build.

The new search field is not fully implemented yet. You can't use it to type text yet, and a click opens the centered search interface on the system. It is possible that this is the desired workflow when the search widget is used, but it seems unlikely. A more likely implementation allows direct user input in the search field and will open the search interface on the left side of the screen.

Search highlights functionality is not implemented yet either.

windows 11 disable search interface

The available taskbar options work with the new search field as well. Disable Search under Taskbar Items to hide the element on the taskbar. You may still run searches when you open the Start interface on the taskbar.

Closing Words

You may wonder why Microsoft is experimenting with search and search locations so much. Search, and the integrated web search functionality, generates advertising revenue for the company, as advertising may be displayed either directly when users search or when users click on results that lead to Microsoft properties on the Internet.

Windows users who just want file searches may check out Everything Search, which offers blazing fast searches and can be added to the Windows taskbar for direct access.

Now you: do you use Windows Search?

Microsoft experimenting with a search widget on Windows 11's taskbar
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Microsoft experimenting with a search widget on Windows 11's taskbar
Microsoft runs several experiments in the latest Windows 11 version 23H2 build that place widgets in different locations on the taskbar for some setups.
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  1. Phylis Sophical said on June 14, 2022 at 7:28 pm

    I’ve been using Everything Search for years. Allows you to open the path to the results. Lots of other great options.

  2. mr tugboat said on June 13, 2022 at 7:38 pm

    This option has been available in Linux distributions for a long time now.

    I see M$ likes to play catch up.

  3. pHROZEN gHOST said on June 13, 2022 at 7:28 pm

    Windows 10 was the last MS OS I will use because it was to be the last OS.
    Windows 11 is an experiment in human programming.
    I wish only the best of luck to those who decide to stick it out.

    1. Anonymous said on June 14, 2022 at 1:36 pm

      What’s next? A searchbox in the search window to help us locate specific search bars? I know MS is trying really, REALLY hard to shove Bing/Edge down people’s throats, but this is ridiculous. How far are they gonna go chasing that search/”news” revenue instead of listening to their users? How much further can they go with bs “features” like this anyway, like, really, what else can they come up with, I’m just morbidly curious now.

      Then again, personally I’ve always had an aversion to that taskbar search to begin with, it’s one of the first things I entirely disable because I find it so completely unnecessary, when Win+S invokes the same thing (or I can just start typing away in Start anyway). But no, MS seems to think we need a dedicated search button in the taskbar, dedicated search in Start, dedicated Search in File Explorer, dedicated standalone search “widget” on the desktop, now this… when they all do the same exact thing. Meaning plug Bing/Edge, ofc. Or am I crazy and do we really need this many search anchor points all over the OS? Because I still think that’s just a sign of a bad(ly designed) UI when we “have to” resort to searches for everything, from the simplest app launches to direct access to specific settings, instead of using it to actually find lost stuff.

  4. 45RPM said on June 13, 2022 at 5:44 pm

    Just NO. No more. Stop it.

    It’s a computer that is used to get work done (probably 70%+), because it’s what you can afford (thanks Apple), or because you are an idiot that COULD afford a Mac, but whatever.

    And Linux nerds can just go wank.

    In ALL use cases, STOP. We don’t want this and you are rich enough to not NEED this.

  5. CyberCipher said on June 13, 2022 at 3:39 pm

    The irony here is that some (many?) of us have had to remove the current (existing) search icon from the taskbar (turning it off in the Personalization/Taskbar settings) because it has been causing search function to freeze-up on Windows 11. (An easy way to fix this is to use the Task Manager to restart “Windows Explorer”.) Currently, if I need to search my machine(s) for something, I use the search box located at the top of the main menu. Perhaps someone should tell Microsoft to fix their existing search function before they go inventing a new one.

  6. Anonymous said on June 13, 2022 at 1:31 pm

    Is there anyone with a brain working on Windows 11? No one asked for yet another dark pattern MSN search box. Where’s taskbar labels and small taskbar that as been top voted for the past 11 months?

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