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Stupid Geek Tricks: Search the Internet from the Start Menu in Windows 7

The new Search feature in Windows 7 has greatly improved for navigating your PC. But how neat would it be to search the Internet from the Start Menu? Here we show you how to do it.

This method uses Group Policy Editor which is not available in Home versions of Windows 7.

Using Group Policy Editor

First type gpedit.msc into the Search box in the Start Menu and hit Enter.

gpedit_start

When Group Policy Editor opens navigate to User Configuration \ Administrative Templates \ Start Menu and Taskbar. Then double-click on Add Search Internet link to Start Menu.

sshot-2010-07-09-[01-01-32]

In the screen that comes up select Enable, click OK, and close out of Group Policy Editor.

sshot-2010-07-09-[01-03-38]

Now when you want to search for something in the Start Menu, you’ll see an extra link so you can search the Internet.

sshot-2010-07-09-[01-32-49]

Then your search query will open up in your favorite browser…

sshot-2010-07-09-[01-35-39]

This is kind of a neat little trick that will give you more searching options from the Start Menu. It can actually come in handy if you don’t have a browser session open and want to search the web quickly.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 07/9/10

Comments (16)

  1. cool

    This is pretty cool actually, not a stupid geek trick.

    Here’s the registry if anyone want to save it for future use.

    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer]
    “AddSearchInternetLinkInStartMenu”=dword:00000001

    Too bad it opens up new window instead of a tab for opened browser. Anyone know a fix?

  2. Jeremy

    “The new Search feature in Windows 7 has greatly improved for navigating your PC”

    Wait what? Do you know something I don’t? Granted the taskbar program search feature is cool, but Windows search itself is awkward, kludgey, and most times doesn’t even search when I tell it to. You can’t mean that can you?

  3. kzinti1

    I typed gpedit.msc into Search. No result. I typed gpedit.msc into Run. File not found.

  4. that_id

    @kzinti1

    “This method uses Group Policy Editor which is not available in Home versions of Windows 7.”

  5. Kevin Scott

    What about for the people using Home Premium? We don’t have Local Group Policy Editor.

  6. brian99

    Yes, I agree with Devin, there must be a hack for people using Home Premium to access this tip.

    I hope someone with extraordinary expertise can offer us a way.

    Thanks,

    BRIAN

  7. Ajith Antony

    Opens in a new tab for Google Chrome

  8. Mysticgeek

    @brian99 & Kevin Scott: We will definitely look into a way to accomplish this for Home versions of Windows as well.

  9. Jason

    Opens New tab in Opera as well.

  10. Kevin

    @Jeremy

    windows 7 searches the whole computer when you type in the start menu search bar, if you give it time. It will start to list other locations with that file name. it may just take longer on an older or slow machine. with my i7 it takes about 1 second versus say a pentium d? that may take 2 or 3 seconds.

  11. Chad Underwood

    Here is the reg key you would have to change HKCU\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer\AddSearchInternetLinkInStartMenu

    I have no way of verifying how you would need to change. I had to add it to the registry with no change. Maybe one of you guys with the Home version can try adding it or changing the value.

    source: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=18C90C80-8B0A-4906-A4F5-FF24CC2030FB&displaylang=en

  12. daniel

    Nice, google is the search engine?

  13. frog

    Just confirmed that adding the registry value (it doesn’t exist) under Win7 Home Premium works after restart:

    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer]
    “AddSearchInternetLinkInStartMenu”=dword:00000001

    Using firefox as Windows’ default browser opens a new window for search; I suspect this has nothing to do with microsoft.

    Google search is performed if it is the default search engine of the default browser.

  14. sris

    nice..

  15. Pat

    @frog

    Not sure if this has always happened, but I’m also having Firefox 4 open a new window as opposed to a tab. I made sure “open new windows in a tab instead” was checked off, but I’m getting a new window.

  16. Maggie

    Does that registry fix for home premium on Win 7 also work for home premium on Vista? I ask because I’m STUCK on Vista. :’-(

    Well, guess I should ask while i’m at it (although not related to this topic) If anyone can help me, I cannot upgrade from Vista to Windows 7 via windows updates OR direct download from microsoft’s website. My re-installation CD (from Dell) does not have SP1 (purchased in 2007 so it was not included) Every time I try to install Vista SP1 it hangs on stage 3 of 3 at 74%. I am not willing to go through a 4th try expecting a better result. I’ve tried everything possible, including contacting the good folks at Microsoft who sell Windows 7, to no avail.

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