It is possible to add a ‘Search the Internet’ link to the Windows 7 Start Menu. Windows Vista included this feature (and Windows 8 has a similar option) but for some reason it was omitted from Windows 7.
In Vista, you can search the internet direct from the Start Menu – click Start (or press the Windows key) then type your search into the Search box and press ‘Search the Internet’ – this automatically opens your default browser with search results from the default search engine.
To add the same ‘Search the Internet’ link to the Windows 7 Start Menu, follow these steps:
Caution: this process involves editing the Windows registry – it is always recommended to create a System Restore point first in case you need to revert back.
1. Click Start then type regedit into the Search box and press Enter to open the Registry Editor – accept the User Account Control confirmation message if it appears.
2. Navigate through the registry to: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows
3. If the Explorer sub-folder is already present within the Windows folder, skip to step 4. If it isn’t (as show above) you need to create it:
- Right click the Windows folder and choose the option New > Key. Overwrite the default name of New Key #1 with Explorer.
4. Right-click the new sub-folder Explorer and choose the option New > DWORD (32-bit) Value as shown below:
- Overwrite the default name of New Value #1 with AddSearchInternetLinkInStartMenu then press Enter to create the new entry.
5. Double click the AddSearchInternetLinkInStartMenu entry and change the value to 1 as shown below then press OK to confirm:
6. Close the Registry Editor and restart the computer.
The new command ‘Search the Internet’ should now appear whenever you start typing into the Start Menu’s Search box:
Clicking ‘Search the Internet’ will open your default browser with search results from the default search engine – if the browser was already open the search results will appear in a new window, not a new tab.
The fact that searching the internet directly from the Search box appeared in Vista, and that Windows 8 includes a similar option, suggests that Microsoft have recognized that removing it from Windows 7 was an error.
Fortunately it is fairly easy to add back the ‘Search the Internet’ link to the Windows 7 Start Menu.