Change the Default Search Engine in IE through the Registry

Changing the default search engine to something other than Bing is really easy in Internet Explorer and only takes a few clicks. That is, unless you work in a corporate environment and your network administrator has locked down the web browser settings.

Some admins go a bit too far with restrictions and force people to search using only Bing as a prime example. In this article, I will show you how to modify some settings in the registry so that you can use Google as your default search engine instead of Bing.

If the registry editor is also disabled on your computer, make sure to check out my previous post on how to re-enable the registry editor. It should be noted that the registry keys that we are going to change are not important to the system and therefore if you mess something up, nothing bad will happen to your computer.

Just in case, though, be sure to read my post on backing up and restoring the registry first. The process is a bit technical, but if you follow it slowly, it shouldn’t be too difficult. I have tested this on Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10 and it works on all three operating systems.

Edit the search glasses for IE in the Registry

In IE, each search engine you add to your browser is called a search scope in the registry. First, before entering the registry, we must create a new GUID that we will use as the key. It sounds scary, but just follow the instructions below.

Step 1: Open PowerShell by clicking Start and typing powershell.


At the prompt, just copy and paste the following command:


This will create a long number with letters and dashes as shown below. Select the GUID and then press CTRL + C to copy it to the clipboard.

create new guis

Now we have to convert it to uppercase because the registry is hard on the case when generating the key. The easiest way to do this is to open Word, paste the text, select it and then select UPPERCASE.

convert to uppercase

Step 2: Now open the registry editor by clicking Start and typing in regedit. Now navigate to the following key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchScopes

default search scope

If you click Search, you’ll see a few keys on the right-hand side. The main thing that we care about is DefaultScope. Double click on that and paste the new scope ID we just created.

Note that you have to add an opening brace and a closing brace around the GUID that we created.

change search scope

Click OK and the value will be updated. Now that we have configured which search scope is the default, we actually have to create a new search scope.

Step 3: Right click on Search key in the left navigation pane and select NewKey.

register a new key

Again, paste the value of the new GUID as the name of the key. Again, make sure to add curly braces to the front and bottom of the GUID. The registry keys should now look like the image below:

current search scope

Step 4: Now comes the fun part. We have to create a few new keys in the right pane for the new search scope. So first select the new search scope we created and you will see only one key called Default.

We have to create a total of five new keys. To create a new key, just right click on any white area in the right pane and select New and then select Value Chain for the first key.

new string value

You want to name your new key Display name and then press enter. Then double click on the new key and you can enter the value information. Knock on Google in the value data box and click OK.

Display name

Now let’s add the rest in the same way. Below I will list the key name (in bold), the type you must select (in italics), and the value you must enter.

FaviconURL - String Value -
ShowSearchSuggestions - DWORD (32-bit) Value - 1
SuggestionsURL - String Value -{searchTerms}&client=ie8&mw={ie:maxWidth}&sh={ie:sectionHeight}&rh={ie:rowHeight}&inputencoding={inputEncoding}&outputencoding={outputEncoding}
URL - String Value -{searchTerms}

Once you’re done, the final items should look like the image below:

final registry settings

Once everything is set up in the registry, go ahead and open Internet Explorer. You don’t need to restart your computer for it to work. When IE opens, you may see a message at the bottom that says an unknown program wants to change your search provider. Go ahead and click Change.

change search provider

Now when you type something in the address bar, the address bar will give you search suggestions and will search using Google when you press Enter.

ie google search

If something is not working properly make sure to test all keys properly and GUID is the same for DefaultScope and for the name of the key below Search. Also, make sure the GUID has an opening brace and a closing brace in both of those cases.

Hopefully this will help you to access Google search on IE even if your system is locked. If you have any questions, feel free to comment. Interesting!

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