Blog post

Monday, March 28, 2011

How to make Google the default search in Internet Explorer 9. Not that Google, the proper Google!

Have you tried out Internet Explorer 9 yet? I like it much better than previous versions which I only ever used if I absolutely had to. In fact, I like it enough that I’m considering switching back to it after a long long time because it seems to play more nicely with my preferred add-ons that the other options.

In the process of trying out IE9 one thing has really annoyed me. In fact, was going to be a deal breaker for me. The problem was the default search engine. Not that it was Bing, but that when I replaced Bing with Google the result was rather less than I expected. I’ll explain.

Changing from Bing

It’s easy enough to change from the default search engine, Bing.

  • Start typing in the address bar and it will drop down with suggestions (or hit F4).
  • Click the word “Add”, found at the bottom right of the drop down box.

This will open the add-on gallery page. You will probably see Google listed right there on the front page. Click on it for more information and it looks like just what you want.

Stop there!!

So far so good, right? Not quite.

The trouble is that if you install that particular Google search, it doesn’t return the familiar results screen. There are no choices to switch between web, images, maps etc. There are no interesting options running down the side. There’s not even a colourful Google logo!

What it does have is a much more prominent set of advertisements at the top, and a little “what is this” notice that explains all about AdSense. That’s right, if you install the Google search listed you get a less useful product with more ads.

This was going to be a deal breaker for me so far as Internet Explorer was concerned until I discovered that it can be fixed.

Here’s how to get the right Google. Whichever Google you think is right!

OK, let’s start from the beginning again.

  • Start typing in the address bar and it will drop down with suggestions (or hit F4).
  • Click the word “Add”, found at the bottom right of the drop down box.
  • Ignore the options given and scroll down the page and click on the words “Create your own search provider”.
  • Follow the instructions on the page that appears
    • Go to your preferred search provider (in another window) and search on the word TEST. I searched using
    • Copy the URL returned to the appropriate box.
    • You also get to name your search.
    • Click Install.
  • A pop up window will appear confirming the installation. You can also decide at that point to make the new search your default search, but don’t worry if you forget, you can always fix it later.

If you want to change the default, change the order of, or remove the search options you can do so later on via the “Manage add-ons” menu item found by clicking the cog icon at the upper right of your IE window.

Here’s what the drop down box looks like for me when I start typing in a search term now:


Google is my first option. Followed by some others, which I may or may not keep there.

If you have eagle-eyes you will have noticed an Ancestry icon. Yes, this method works for genealogy sites such as Ancestry. So, now I can search Ancestry for a particular surname from my address bar. Whether I would want to search that way is a different story, but I could if I wanted to.

So, Internet Explorer is back in the running for the coveted default browser status on my PC.


  1. Shelley, I have nominated you for the 'One Lovely Blog Award'. Rules for accepting the award are: (1)Accept the award and post it on your blog with the name of the person who granted the award and their blog link. (2)Pass the award on to 15 other blogs that you've newly discovered. (3)Contact those bloggers to let them know they've been chosen for this award. Please visit UK/Australia Genealogy to collect the 'One Lovely Blog Award' badge, which you can use on your blog when you list your 15 nominees.

  2. Following your instructions I cannot find the words “Create your own search provider”. Could you plwase clarify where this is found?

  3. Hi Matti,

    I've looked and looked, but it's not there anymore! They must have changed things around. The custom searches I set up still work for me but I no longer see a way of setting them up in IE9.

    It's possible to set them up in Chrome using a similar method. You can find it there Options, Basics, Search. I suspect you can do the same in Firefox, but I couldn't find it easily when I looked.

    I hope that helps.

  4. Hi Shelley,

    Any chance you can open Regedit and browse down to:
    HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchScopes

    Then provide full details of the contents of your Google Australia GUID?

    If we know the contents we can make a REG file to import.



    1. Hi Geoff,
      Sorry it has taken me such an extremely long time to reply. Do you still want the contents of the Google Australia GUID? Please get in touch if so.

  5. Maa'm, where is the Create your own search engine'?

    1. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to be there anymore.