Set Internet Explorer Address Bar Search via Group Policy

OK, this is kind of a cheat, this is using Group Policy Preferences (GPPrefs) to add a set of registry entries, it’s not a custom .admx or something more fancy.

But it does work.

Firstly, I suggest you create a new registry collection. This helps group the settings together, and allows you to use targeting on the collection, rather than having to set it in each individual GPPref registry item.

  1. Open Group Policy Management and create a new GPO or edit an existing one.
  2. Go to User Configuration, Preferences, Windows Settings, Registry
  3. Right-click and choose New – Registry Collection, call it something like IE Search Provider

There are seven registry items to add, create them all within your new registry collection. As per KB918238 we should generate a GUID (Globally Unique IDentifier) to use to refer to each search provider. This is pretty easy, from a PowerShell prompt use:


and you’ll be returned a new GUID, e.g. I just got 8a7d6e1b-d2ea-41e5-aede-1ed0c21913c9. I’m using this GUID below, you can either use this one or generate your own. I’m setting the address bar search provider and suggestions to Google UK.

The registry items to add are as follows:

Key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchScopes

Value Name                            Type       Value Data
DefaultScope                          REG_SZ     {8a7d6e1b-d2ea-41e5-aede-1ed0c21913c9}
ShowSearchSuggestionsInAddressGlobal  REG_DWORD  1

Key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchScopes\{8a7d6e1b-d2ea-41e5-aede-1ed0c21913c9}

Value Name                            Type       Value Data
DisplayName                           REG_SZ     Google UK
FaviconURL                            REG_SZ
SuggestionsURL                        REG_SZ{searchTerms}&client=ie8&mw={ie:maxWidth}&sh={ie:sectionHeight}&rh={ie:rowHeight}&inputencoding={inputEncoding}&outputencoding={outputEncoding}
ShowSearchSuggestions                 REG_DWORD  1
URL                                   REG_SZ{searchTerms}&sourceid=ie7&{language}:{referrer:source}&ie={inputEncoding?}&oe={outputEncoding?}

And that’s it. This definitely works with IE 10, but should work with versions 7, 8 and 9 too.

Note that due to the search provider being set in the Software\Policies section of the registry, users will not be prompted as to whether or not they want their search provider changed to whatever you specify above.

Thanks to this and this for pointing me in the right direction.

This entry was posted in Applications, Windows and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Set Internet Explorer Address Bar Search via Group Policy

  1. dawsonweb says:

    Reblogged this on Dawsonweb's Blog and commented:
    Interesting. I’m going to give this a try. There’s very little out there for setting search provider in ie10+.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.