Windows 8.1 is a great improvement over Windows 8. But the one thing that irks me is the deep integration of Microsoft services into the new Metro/Modern interface. Bing is now integrated into every search ran in the start menu.

I know we have to ability to disable Bing within the metro settings. And disabled I did, as frankly, I do not trust Bing with my searching; however, since the option to search is there, I want to tweak the search provider to my pleasing.

I know in the EU there was a order given to Microsoft about allowing any search engine to be set in Internet Explorer, rather than just their own. I am hoping this might allow the user in Windows 8.1 to also switch the OS search engine.

So my question: Is there a way to switch the OS level search engine provider to, for example, Google? (Not just within Internet Explorer)

  • 4
    Currently: Nope. – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Dec 16 '13 at 19:26
  • Its actually called Smart Search – Ramhound Dec 16 '13 at 19:26
  • I was hoping for anything, (registry edits, code injection, metro proxying, etc.). – Mark Lopez Dec 16 '13 at 19:32
  • @MarkLopez - The hack you seek does not exist. – Ramhound Dec 20 '13 at 0:15
  • 1
    @MarkLopez - I didn't say it wasn't possible. My research proved fruitless which means, if the hack currently existed, I would have found some mention of one. – Ramhound Dec 20 '13 at 1:34

I've asked this Gov Maharaj from Microsoft and I got the answer that is it not possible. There are no registry keys you can edit to change the search engine. You can only turn it off.

Watch one of the next episodes, he should answer it there.

  • Asking an employee of Microsoft might not provide the most accurate and trustworthy answer. I doubt Microsoft would tell users how do anything to reduce their search engine market share. Registry keys are not the only way to change Windows configurations. – Mark Lopez Dec 21 '13 at 7:12
  • I searched a bit and the new search is directly integrated inside the Windows.UI.Search.dll I can't see how to change it. Phone the MS support and give feedback that you want to change it. Maybe they add this in the next Windows Version/larger Update for 8.x. – magicandre1981 Dec 23 '13 at 7:06

Sure, you can always to do it for Internet Explorer or another internet browser, but Microsoft isn't going to let about half of its Bing traffic go to waste, and frankly, I don't blame them. Until someone manages to hack the system or release a workaround, I don't think there's anyway to switch it. You can, however, go to the Windows store and get the Metro/Modern app for Google or your other preferred search engine, and that could make it easier to search the web from the start screen.

  • I was hoping that the EU would force Microsoft to allow all engines like they did with IE. If not, I was hoping this thread would bring a work around that I have yet discovered. – Mark Lopez Mar 8 '14 at 3:04
  • The best way to avoid Bing is just not to use that feature. That's why Chrome, Firefox, and Opera exist. – javathunderman Mar 8 '14 at 3:05
  • Ubuntu Unity has some remarkable similarities to the latter Windows 8.1 Smart Search. I was hoping to use Windows 8 as I did with Ubuntu's own search. – Mark Lopez Mar 8 '14 at 3:15
  • Well, that's a different story. Ubuntu- Linux in general- doesn't have a primary search engine. It doesn't have a primary browser either, but I think we can agree that Firefox takes that spot. Duckduckgo for the win! – javathunderman Mar 8 '14 at 3:17

Yes, I have also tried many ways to do so, but did not get a success to change the system wide search engine to Google or any other; however, I have tried a few things,

  1. I have created a shortcut of system search into my task bar from: C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Search which itself is a shortcut of the host process %windir%\system32\rundll32.exe -sta {C90FB8CA-3295-4462-A721-2935E83694BA} and disabled Bing, so I can search directly from my desktop without going to the Metro tiles or by entering Window button +F as you would know that if we do that from the desktop the automatic search field filter comes as File and not as Everywhere. Basically I wanted it to be like the Spotlight in Apple os.
  2. I have added an Address Toolbar from Taskbar and Navigation Properties > Toolbars > Address, and from my Internet Explorer I have changed my default Search Provider to Google instead of Bing.

So now if I want to search something from within my system I just click the Finder Shortcut in the Taskbar and if I want to search something on the web I type that in the address bar which I added and since the default search provider is Google it give the results from google. Even though it is "Address" we do not have to enter any address we can directly search the keywords as you may know.

I know that this does not answer your question, as it have been answered already that till now it is not possible; however, I understand that this is something which is an alternative. This is my taskbar after this arrangement:
enter image description here

I like the taskbar on the top and have changed the Windows Start orb to Apple logo.


Click the gear to the right: Manage Addons > Search Provider Then on the very bottom of the window to the left, click "Find more search providers". Then click the Google icon. Then click "Add to Internet Explorer". Close your window and test it by typing whatever you want onto the URL bar, and it should search Google rather than Bing for it.

  • Windows 8.1 does not have a URL bar. Is this for Internet Explorer? – Mark Lopez Dec 20 '13 at 0:40
  • Oh, right, I forgot to tell you. Open the desktop version of Internet Explorer in order to do this. – Tembrau Dec 20 '13 at 0:44
  • 1
    My question was regarding the OS level search engine provider. Not just within Internet Explorer. – Mark Lopez Dec 20 '13 at 0:45
  • 2
    The question was about Smart Search in Windows 8.1, that is the default built in Search for Windows 8.1. Currently it searches the internet via Bing, the question was if one can choose some other Search provider like Google instead of Bing. – Devid Dec 20 '13 at 1:21

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