Internet Explorer has long had a very useful "hidden feature": a shortcut for quick searches from the address bar, allowing you to use any number of websites as search providers (as described in an answer to What do all of Internet Explorer's search settings mean?; the settings are stored in the registry at HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchUrl).

For example, if I associate the shortcut "su" with the address "https://superuser.com/search?q=%s", I could type "su Internet Explorer" in the address bar and instantly get this resulting page.

However, the only way to set up and maintain it (that I know of) is by editing the registry (as described in Windows 7 : Using Any Search Engine from the Address Bar; archived here), or by installing a utility like Tweak UI (a Windows XP powertoy that is apparently no longer officially supported). At work I don't have administrator privileges to my workstation, so those options won't work for me. Is there another way to expose this feature?


If you don't have regedit privileges, you can still import .reg files that only touch HKCU. Other than that, I think by default in IE8 it will use your default search provider (which you can manage with the little drop-down in the search box).

  • I'll have to check whether office policy permits reg file imports. As for the IE8 default search provider, that is a different functionality (quite limited by comparison). – kmote May 18 '12 at 19:57
  • Ah, okay, I didn't know if you were referring to that. Incidentally you can also add custom search providers though obviously it's a bit less convenient. The old MS page is gone (sigh) but this replicates it: enhanceie.com/ie/searchbuilder.asp – Mark Sowul May 18 '12 at 23:27

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