Customizing Internet Explorer Search

Internet Explorer 7

Internet Explorer 7 allows sites to advertise search providers. Providers can use the open search standard described at the A9 Web site ( When Internet Explorer detects search providers, the search box becomes active to indicate there are more search providers available. When the user opens the dropdown list, the new providers appear in that list.

You can allow your users to add search providers, or you can restrict this ability using a set of policies. Specifically, you can do the following:

  • Prevent the search box from appearing at all.

  • Add a list of search providers for your users.

  • Restrict your users' ability to add or remove search providers.

The policies for managing search for Internet Explorer 7 are located in Group Policy at Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Internet Explorer.

For information about creating custom .ADM files to add search providers to the toolbar search box for Internet Explorer 7, see article 918238 in the Microsoft Knowledge Base (

Internet Explorer 6

For users using Internet Explorer 6, the Microsoft Windows Search Assistant provides a single, unified search experience across different types of searches. You can customize the Search Assistant, which is located inside the Search bar, by using tools such as JScript (compatible with ECMA 262 language specification), Visual Basic Scripting Edition (VBScript), ActiveX controls, Dynamic HTML, framesets, and cascading style sheets (CSS).

The user can customize Internet Explorer so that the Search Assistant uses a single search engine. Alternatively, as an ISP or corporate administrator, you can customize the Search bar to meet the needs of your organization. Specify the URL for the Search bar on the Search Provider Customization page of the Internet Explorer 7 Customization Wizard.

Search results typically appear in the Search bar. It is critical for users to be able to easily use the results of any search service. You can use the Search bar functionality to store detailed information such as text abstracts, URLs, or file size. This information is displayed in tooltips that appear when the user moves the pointer over a search result. Tooltips keep the results page simple while providing more detailed information to the user.

For information about customizing the Search Assistant for Internet Explorer 6, see Windows Search Assistant (

You can customize Automatic Search to enable users to type a conversational word into the Address box in Internet Explorer to search for frequently used pages. Users do not need to remember the URLs for the pages that you specify, so key information can be easier to find.

For example, you could enable a Web page about invoices to appear when a user types invoice into the Address box, even if the URL of the page does not contain this term. If you are a corporate administrator, the following topic shows you how you can customize automatic searching. If you are an Internet content provider or Internet service provider, you can send e-mail to for more information.

This feature is already enabled for the Internet. For example, typing certain distinct, popular terms in the Address box will cause a Web site associated with that term to appear. If a Web site cannot distinctly be associated with that term (for example, if there are several apparent matches), then a Web page showing top search results is displayed.

The Web site that appears does not necessarily contain the exact search term in its URL. If a Web site whose domain is the same as the term is not the best match for the search term (for example, if the search term is the same as the URL without "www." and ".com"), then the user is redirected to the site that is the best match for that term. By default, the user is prompted when a redirection occurs.

  1. Create a script (.ASP) file that conditionally checks for search terms, and post it to an intranet server at the following location:


    See Parameters for configuring the Automatic Search URL (following this procedure) for a description of the parameters %1 and %2.

    If you are not using Internet Information Services (IIS), then you must remap this URL to the address where your script is located.

  2. If you are setting this option in the Internet Explorer 7 Customization Wizard, on the Additional Settings page in Stage 5, click Internet Settings.


    If you are setting this option in IEAK Profile Manager, click Additional Settings, and then click Internet Settings.

  3. Click Advanced Settings, and then under Searching, in Search Provider Keyword, type intranet.

You can use policies and restrictions to redirect users to another site rather than provide search results. To do this, click Advanced Settings. Under Searching, in the When searching from the address bar list, click Just go to the most likely site.

If you are a corporate administrator for an organization that does not have Internet access and you are not customizing search, you might want to use policies and restrictions to disable automatic searching. To do this, click Advanced Settings. Under Searching, in the When searching from the address bar list, click Never search from the address bar.

Parameters for configuring the Automatic Search URL

To configure the Automatic Search URL (http://ieautosearch/response.asp?MT=%1&srch=%2), replace the two parameters that are indicated by the percent (%) sign. These two values must be part of the URL itself.




The string the user typed in the Address box.


Type of search chosen by the user.

3 Display the results and go to the most likely site.

2 Go to the most likely site.

1 Display the results in the main window.

0 Do not search from the Address box.

Sample .asp AutoSearch script

<%@ Language=VBScript %>
' search holds the words typed in the Address bar
' by the user, without the "go" or
' "find" or any delimiters like
' "+" for spaces.
' If the user typed
' "Apple pie," search = "Apple pie."
' If the user typed
' "find Apple pie," search = "Apple pie."
search = Request.QueryString("MT")
search = UCase(search)
searchOption = Request.QueryString("srch")
' This is a simple if/then/else
' to redirect the browser to the site
' of your choice based on what the
' user typed.
' Example: expense report is an intranet page
' about filling out an expense report
if (search = "NEW HIRE") then
elseif (search = "LIBRARY CATALOG") then
elseif (search = "EXPENSE REPORT") then
elseif (search = "LUNCH MENU") then
' If there is not a match, use the
' default IE autosearch server
+ search + "&srch=" + searchOption + 
end if
Additional references:
  • For more information about additional resources and references for IEAK 7, see References.