Add Websites or Search Engine Links in Windows Explorer and Start Menu Search Results Page

Looking into Windows Registry, system files and Group Policy Editor is my favorite time pass and spending time in these things never goes waste. Every time I look into them, I find new stuff to share with you all.

Same thing happened today while I was checking various options given in Group Policy Editor and found a cool feature present in Windows which I never checked before.

The trick which we are going to share today is very useful and allows you to directly search for a term on your favorite website or search engines such as Google, Bing, etc right from Windows Explorer or Start Menu.

This trick will work in Windows 7 and higher OS such as Windows 8 and Windows Server 2008 R2. It'll not work in Windows XP or Vista. Since Windows 8 doesn't come with Start Menu, the website and search engine links will only appear in Windows Explorer search results page in Windows 8.

With the help of this trick, you can add or pin your favorite website or search engine links at the bottom of search results page in Windows Explorer and Start Menu as shown in following screenshots:

Windows Explorer Search Results Page:

Websites_Links_Pinned_Windows_Explorer_Search.png

Start Menu Search Results Page:

Websites_Links_Pinned_Start_Menu.png

As you can see in above screenshots, we have added AskVG, Google, Bing, Wikipedia and DuckDuckGo website links in search results page. Now whenever we search for any term and click on these newly added links, Windows automatically opens the website in web browser showing the search results for the search term.

It saves time and you don't need to open web browser, launch the website and then search for the desired term. Just click on the website link given at the bottom of search results page and you are done.

You can add up to 5 website links using this trick. The links can be added using 2 methods:

  • METHOD 1: Using Group Policy Editor
  • METHOD 2: Using Registry Editor

So without wasting time, lets start the tutorial:

METHOD 1: Using Group Policy Editor (gpedit.msc)

1. Type gpedit.msc in RUN or Start Menu search box and press Enter. It'll open Group Policy Editor.

2. Now go to:

User Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Windows Components -> Windows Explorer

3. In right-side pane, scroll down and you'll see an option "Pin Internet search sites to the Search again links and the Start menu".

Pin_Websites_Search_Again_Links_Start_Menu.png

4. Double-click on it and set its value to Enabled.

5. Now the important step comes. We have enabled the option to add website links in search results page but now we'll need to tell Windows which websites should it add to the page.

We'll need to provide 2 important things about the website:

  • Website URL in OpenSearch format
  • Website Name

Website name can be any desired string. It'll work just like a label. But you'll need to provide the correct Website URL in OpenSearch format to work.

Now you'll ask what is this OpenSearch format and how will you find a website URL in OpenSearch format? Don't worry! It's very easy.

Whenever you perform a search on any website or search engine and the search results page is shown, look at the parameter value present right after the main website URL. For example, when you search on Google, the search results are shown on a page having http://www.google.com/search?q= in its URL. After the q= you'll see your search term. So that's the website URL in OpenSearch format.

Using the same method, you can find any website URL in OpenSearch format.

6. Once you find your desired website URL in OpenSearch format, add {searchTerms} string at the end of the URL. For example, if you want to add Google link, you'll need to set website URL as http://www.google.com/search?q={searchTerms}

Type the URL in "Site URL 1" text box and type website name in "Site name 1" text box.

Add_Websites_Search_Again_Links_Start_Menu.png

7. Using the same method, you can add 4 more website links. After providing the website information, apply the changes and get ready to see the website links in search results page in Windows Explorer and Start Menu.

8. If you want to add a normal website link not a search engine, then just add /?s={searchTerms} at the end of its URL and it should work for almost all websites. For example, to add AskVG link, you'll need to type http://www.askvg.com/?s={searchTerms} in Site URL text box.

METHOD 2: Using Registry Editor (regedit)

Some Windows editions such as Starter, Home Basic and Home Premium don't come with Group Policy Editor. Although its possible to install Group Policy Editor in these unsupported Windows editions using this article, but if you don't want to install it or can't use Group Policy Editor, here is a Registry method to do the same thing:

1. Type regedit in RUN or Start Menu search box and press Enter. It'll open Registry Editor.

2. Now go to following key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer

If you don't see Explorer key, create it manually.

3. In right-side pane, create a new DWORD TryHarderPinnedOpenSearch and set its value to 1

4. Now create a new string value OpenSearch0 and set its value to the website URL in OpenSearch format as discussed in steps 5 and 6 of method 1.

5. Create another string value OpenSearchLabel0 and set its value to website name.

As you can see, the OpenSearch0 string value contains the same value as of Site URL text box and OpenSearchLabel0 string value contains the same value as of Site Name text box.

6. If you want to add more website links, you can create OpenSearch1, OpenSearch2, OpenSearch3 and OpenSearch4 string values to set website URLs and OpenSearchLabel1, OpenSearchLabel2, OpenSearchLabel3 and OpenSearchLabel4 string values to set website names as shown in following screenshot:

Pin_Websites_Links_Windows_Explorer_Start_Menu_Search.png

7. That's it. Now you can enjoy your desired website or search engine link in Windows Explorer and Start Menu search results page. Just click on the link and it'll search for your search term on your desired website.

NOTE: If you don't want to modify Registry manually and want a ready-made Registry script to do the task automatically, download following ZIP file, extract it and run the extracted REG file. It'll ask for confirmation, accept it:

Download Registry Script

This registry script will add AskVG, Google, Bing, Wikipedia and DuckDuckGo website links in search results page.

Check out following video to see this feature live in action:

Feel free to share your feedback about this tutorial in your comment...





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Posted in: Windows 7, Windows 8 / 8.1


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Comments

  • Thanks for it, but creating more than 5 registry can add more links or it is bounded to 5 by default in windows.
    > VG, I understand that how you found the string in group policy editor, but would you please descrime me that how you will found these types of registry strings like tryharderpinnedopensearch and opensearch etc...

  • VG

    ^^ Finding registry key was very easy. Since I added AskVG.com search using Group Policy Editor. I just searched for the same string in Windows Registry and it automatically took me to the corresponding key. ;)

  • ^^ thanks for telling the way,but is it true that each and every job of regedit can be done by gpedit.msc and also where is string in grp policy editor for others like the reg string which shows only icon in taskbar of xp of running apps.

  • Thanks VG! for the useful tweak

  • VG

    ^^ Welcome. :)

    @Abhishek Singh
    No. All registry tweaks cant be applied using Group Policy Editor but all Group policy Editor's tweaks can be applied using Registry.

  • i VG i would like to change the search site icons if it is possible?

  • VG

    ^^ The icon is taken from the default web browser. So you'll need to modify browser EXE file and change the icon.

  • Will it work in Windows 8 Release Preview?

  • VG,
    The same i was asking for : how do you found those strings which can only be created or modified by regeditor not by gpeditor.

  • VG

    ^^ Thats a long process and the ability to find these things comes with experience. Sometimes I find things while looking into Windows shell code. Sometimes I find them while looking into DLLs, EXEs, etc.

    @Someone
    Yes. It should work.

  • It didn't work for me in Windows 8.

  • Although i tried using regedit and script for win 7 home premium , it does not work

  • I think you need to use CMD to force update the group policy!

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