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How do I change what search engine is used by Internet Explorer?


The default search in MS IE8 (and 9) is Bing of Microsoft. How do I change
that? On one of my computers, I can click on the search engine that I want to use for that search. How do I get all of them to use Google or Bing? Can I add also more options like Wikipedia?

It’s really no surprise that Microsoft’s Bing is the default search provider
for Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. And, to be fair, Bing’s not that bad of a
search engine.

Unfortunately, Bing’s garnered a bad reputation with some people by virtue of
what I’ll simply call over-aggressive marketing. Many people found themselves
with Bing as their search engine, their home page, and sometimes even more – and
all of it quite resistant to change.

Even when it doesn’t though, you may find yourself wanting to change the
search engine used by Internet Explorer, or even simply add an additional
search engine to those that are easily available.


Using IE’s built-in search

Many people don’t realize that search is built into Internet Explorer. Rather than visiting,, or any of a number of other search engine websites, you can simply type your search term into the appropriate field in Internet Explorer and press Return on your keyboard to perform a search.

In Internet Explorer 8, that’s a separate entry box, typically to the right of the address field:

IE8 Search Box

IE9 does away with the search box and simply lets you type your search terms directly into the address bar:

IE9 Search in address bar

Regardless of which you use, enter the terms that you want to search on and press Enter on your keyboard; IE sends those terms to the default search engine that it’s been configured to use.

And, by default, that’s Bing.

Adding another search provider

At the right of the search box or at the right end of the address bar is a magnifying glass icon indicating search and a downward pointing triangle indicating that there’s a drop-down menu. Click that triangle.

IE9 Search Drop-down

In IE9, you’ll get a menu including several options. At the bottom will be a list of all currently installed search providers and a button labeled “Add”.

In IE8, the menu will look different, but near the bottom will be a “Find More Providers…” link.

Click either Add or Find More Providers… depending on your version of Internet Explorer and you’ll be taken to the Internet Explorer Gallery of Add-ons.

Internet Explorer Gallery

There are many search providers. So many that we really need to use the Search function to find the one we want. Click that and search for “Google”.

IE Gallery after a search for google

As you can see, there are many add-ons related to Google. Look for the one labeled “Google Search search provider”, click that, click the resulting Add to Internet Explorer button, click Add to the subsequent security dialog. (You can if you like also check “Make this my default search provider” at this time as well.)

You now have Google as one of your search providers.

In IE 9, as you type a search term into the address bar, the drop-down menu indicating available search engines is automatically displayed:

IE9 as you type search terms shows a drop-down menu

Highlighted are two icons representing the two search providers present: Bing and Google. Bing’s is highlighted because it’s the default – press Enter and that’s the search engine that will be used. On the other hand, if you click on the Google icon, then the search is performed using Google.

Changing the default search provider

As mentioned above, you can set the default search provider as you install it.

If you didn’t do that, it’s easy to change the default search provider later.

Click the Tools menu (with Internet Explorer active, press and release the ALT key to make it appear if the menu bar is not visible), click Manage Add-ons, and in the resulting dialog box, click Search Providers:

Managing search providers in IE9

Right-click the search provider that you want to be the default and then click Set as default:

IE9 setting a default search provider

Now all of your searches will be performed using the search engine that you’ve selected.

You may notice a “Remove” entry on that menu as well. You can use this to remove any search engines that you no longer want to use. (Note that this does not affect your home page, only the search engine used when typing search terms into the address bar or search box.)

Other search engines

You asked specifically about Wikipedia. If you go back to the Internet Explorer Gallery of Add-ons and search for “Wikipedia,” one of the results could be exactly what you’re looking for:

Wikipedia search provider for IE

In fact, there are many search providers, both general purpose (including a recently popular Google alternative DuckDuckGo) as well as domain specific searches like Wikipedia, local news stations, cooking sites, and even sites like Walmart.

Spend a few minutes browsing around the gallery for some idea of what you might be able to find and use.

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2 comments on “How do I change what search engine is used by Internet Explorer?”

  1. Interesting article Leo, but the site does NOT allow the selection of Google as a search engine. As a result, I use Firefox wihich DOES allow you to select Google.

    Not sure what you’re experiencing – the screen shots from this article are real, and show IE Gallery offering Google Search as a search provider. I note that you’re doing to the “gb” version of the search (which did show Google search for me), but that is one difference – I’m in the U.S. and went to the “en” version.

  2. Bing stinks. To look for images where I can get more results I use Dogpile. I just bookmak the page and go to it when I want to search.


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