Microsoft can’t force you to use Bing (or their web browser, Edge) when you search the internet, but when you use the Windows Search function (starting by clicking on the Start button), it’s a different story. When you use Windows Search, Microsoft uses the Bing search engine and displays the results in their web browser, Edge, ignoring your default search engine setting.
While there’s no official way to change what Windows Search uses, we can remove Bing — or any web search — from showing up in Windows Search results.
This one requires a registry edit.
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You can remove all web search results by adding a key value to the Windows registry: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer\DisableSearchBoxSuggestions set to a DWORD 32 value of 1. Be sure to back up the registry using System Restore before you make changes.
Back up the registry
Before making changes to the registry, back it up.
Windows System Restore isn’t something I recommend very often, because it doesn’t live up to its name and has occasional problems as well. However, one thing it is good for is backing up the registry.
Use Windows Search to search for System Restore and click on Create a restore point when it appears.
At this writing, this brings up the “old style” user interface. Click on Create… to create a restore point.
You’ll be asked for a description; type in whatever you like to help you remember why we’re doing this. “Before getting rid of Bing search”, for example. Clicking Create will create the restore point and back up the registry.
The registry change, manually
Type Windows Key + R to open the run dialog, and run “regedit”, the registry editor.
Regedit will open. On the left is a tree display of registry keys, and on the right is a pane displaying the contents of the currently selected key.
Your initial view might be quite different; by default, it opens to the last thing it displayed.
By clicking on the greater-than sign to the left of each key component, open:
Next, we need to add a new key: “Explorer”. (If “Explorer” already exists underneath “Windows” at this point, you can skip this step.)
Right-click on Windows; click on New, and then Key. A new key named “New Key #1” will be created beneath the items underneath Windows, ready to edit. Change its name to “Explorer” and type Enter.
Now, right-click on Explorer; click New and then DWORD (32-bit) Value. A new item will appear in the right-hand pane with a default name of “New Value #1”, again ready to edit. Change its name to “DisableSearchBoxSuggestions”. (If “DisableSearchBoxSuggestions” already exists, you can skip this step.)
Now double-click on DisableSearchBoxSuggestions to open an edit box, and change the “Value data” to 1.
Click OK, and close the registry editor.
You’ll need to reboot for the change to take effect.
The registry change, done for you
Right click on the following link and select “Save As…”, “Save Link As…”, or whatever equivalent your browser displays.
Download it to a convenient location. This is a “registry file” that instructs the registry editor to add the key (or modify its value).
You can open the file in a text editor like Notepad to confirm it contains the same information I described above.
Once you’ve done so, double-click the file in Windows File Explorer. This will run the registry editor (displaying a warning that you must accept) and enter the information into the registry.
What did we change?
As I mentioned above, Windows Search uses Bing — there’s no changing that. This registry edit turns off searching the web at all from within Windows Search.
A search for “coffee”, before the change:
After the change, Windows doesn’t even try to search the web.
Why this is OK
It seems like we’ve just disabled a useful feature, but in reality, it’s not as critical as you might think.
It turns out people use Windows Search to search Windows, not the web. They use it to find settings or locate files on their machines.
When it comes time for a web search, they fire up their favorite browser and use that to perform their internet search, using whatever search engine they like.
By removing web search results from Windows Search, we’ve avoided what many people consider to be nothing more than an annoyance: Bing.