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Internet Explorer 8 Search

How to use Internet Explorer 8 Instant Search box in Windows XP, Vista and 7

By . Last modified: 2013-04-09.

Internet Explorer 8 has Instant Search box that supports several search providers. When you type a keyword or phrase into the Instant Search box and press Enter key or click the Search button, Internet Explorer will open search results from selected search provider in currently active Tab. If you want to open search results in a new Tab, use Alt+Enter instead.
You can still open Find Bar for quickly searching in currently open page by pressing Ctrl+F. Find Bar now searches right away for any characters that you type in the Find box and it highlights all matches on the page. This makes  finding information really easy. Smile

Basic search tips for better results

Relevance of search results depends heavily on how you use keywords or phrases and how you limit search criteria.

The most basic search would include one word only. Let's use windows as an example. This will return a huge number of search results from many fields of operation - window replacement companies, Microsoft Windows pages, etc. In short - this is not very efficient.

Many people try to limit their searches by adding keywords, for example: windows xp. This will actually widen search results, because now search engines are looking for pages that include windows or xp or both.

The better way is to search for exact matches by enclosing the words in double quotes: "windows xp". You can go further by adding other keywords before or after enclosed words - "windows xp" ballmer or sales "windows xp".

If you want to exclude a word or words from search results, use minus sign. For example, "windows xp" ballmer -error would search for pages that include exactly windows xp and ballmer, but not error. You can specify several exclusions by separating them with spaces: -error -presentation. Note that there is no space after the minus sign!

When you need to limit search results to a certain web site, use site: criteria. For example, to search for "windows xp" ballmer -error in Microsoft pages only, use: "windows xp" ballmer -error site:microsoft.com. This will return results from all  web sites under microsoft.com domain - www.microsoft.com, downloads.microsoft.com, office.microsoft.com, etc.
You can use exact web site in site criteria to further narrow down the search results, for example: site:www.microsoft.com.

Sometimes you need to search by top-level domains, such as ".ee" for sites in Estonia or ".uk" for sites in United Kingdom, ".biz" for business sites, ".tv" for television-related sites, etc. In that case use site:.ee, site:.uk, site:.biz or site:.tv for criteria, for example: "windows xp" sales -drop site:.uk
Again, you can specify multiple criterias by separating them with spaces (site:.uk site:.ee) and you can exclude specific domains or websites (-site:.ee -site:.microsoft.com).
Please note again that there is no space after the colon!

Another good criteria is "filetype:". If you want to search for Acrobat Reader files, specify filetype:pdf, if you want to search for Microsoft Word documents, use filetype:doc. Some other useful file types are "xls" for Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, "ppt" for Microsoft PowerPoint presentations and "txt" for text files.
Why not create a search: "sales report" site:microsoft.com filetype:doc

Using Instant Search box

Instant Search box is in the top right corner of Internet Explorer. You can activate it by pressing Ctrl+E on your keyboard or by clicking on it. Under the search box appears a list of defined Search Providers - their icons, to be exact. You can select a Search Provider by clicking on its icon. To the right of Search Providers list is Find... button, this opens Find Bar that searches in contents of currently open page only.
Windows XP, Internet Explorer 8 Instant Search box. Activate it by pressing Ctrl+E. Below the box is a list of Search Providers and Find button for opening Find Bar (searches in currently open page only).

If you have not customized the list of Search Providers, you probably have only one of these - Live Search or Bing.
To the right of the box is Search button (magnifying glass), click on it to execute a search. There is a down arrow button on the right, this lists Search Providers and common activities related to Instant Search. You can use keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Down arrow key to open it.

When you enter characters into Instant Search box, you will see autocomplete matches (suggestions) provided by the selected Search Provider (if the providers supports suggestions) and from previously visited web sites (History). If there is a match you need, just click on it to start searching right away. If there is not, continue typing.
Windows XP, Internet Explorer 8 Instant Search. Search box provides autocomplete matches (suggestions) from selected Search Provider and from previously visited sites (History). Click on a match to open search results in currently open Tab.

In case you have multiple Search Providers installed, you can click on an icon at the bottom of the list to see suggestions from other providers.
Windows XP, Internet Explorer 8 Instant Search. To see autocomplete matches (suggestions) from another Search Provider, click on its icon at the bottom of the list. Click on a match to open search results in currently open Tab.

To start a search after entering keywords or phrases, press Enter on your keyboard or click the Search button. This will open search results in currently active Tab.
If you want to see search results in a new Tab, press Alt+Enter instead.

Adding a Search Provider defined by a web site to Instant Search box

Some web sites have added special code to their pages that allows Internet Explorer 8 to detect a usable Search Provider. In that case the down arrow part of Search button turns orange.
www.winhelp.us also has Search Provider support.
Windows XP, Internet Explorer 8 Instant Search. When there is a usable Search Provider on the open web page, the down arrow part of Search button turns orange.

When you click on the down arrow part or press Ctrl+Down arrow key on your keyboard, you will see the detected Search Provider with yellow star mark before its name. Click on it to enable searching within this site's contents (not only the current page!).
Windows XP, Internet Explorer 8 Instant Search. If a site provides usable Search Provider, it will be listed under Search button. Click the provider name to enable searching all contents on that site. This will not install the Search Provider, as this provider will be usable only until closing Internet Explorer.

There will be a magnifying glass icon instead of Search Provider icon to indicate that this Search Provider is not yet installed, but usable until closing Internet Explorer. There will also be no search suggestions from this provider.
Windows XP, Internet Explorer 8 Instant Search. When you select the site Search Provider, you can search all contents of the site, but there are no search suggestions. This provider will be deleted after closing Internet Explorer.

If you want to install the Search Provider, click the down arrow of Search button, select Add Search Providers and click on the provider name.
Windows XP, Internet Explorer 8 Instant Search. To install the Search Provider provided by the open web site, click the down arrow part of Search button, select Add Search Providers and click provider name.

In the Add Search Provider dialog, activate the Use search suggestions from this provider, if possible. In case you want this provider to be the default, select Make this my default search provider, too.
Click Add to confirm.
Windows XP, Internet Explorer 8 Instant Search, Add Search Provider. Click Add button to add the selected Search Provider.

Adding other Search Providers to Instant Search box

If a search engine or site has not added special code to their web pages, you can try finding the Search Provider manually.

For example, to add Google, click down arrow part of Search button or press Ctrl+Down arrow key and select Find More Providers....
Windows XP, Internet Explorer 8 Instant Search. To find a Search Provider manually, click the down arrow part of Search button and select Find More Providers...

This will open a Microsoft web page (iegallery.com) with available and approved Search Providers. Find "Google Search Suggestions" and click Add to Internet Explorer button.
Windows XP, Internet Explorer 8 Instant Search, iegallery.com. List of Microsoft approved Search Providers. To add a Search provider, click Add to Internet Explorer button below.

Add Search Provider dialog opens. If you want to use Google as your default Search Provider, select Make this my default search provider. Always check the Use search suggestions from this provider box, if possible.
Click Add to confirm.
Windows XP, Internet Explorer 8 Instant Search, Add Search Provider. If you want to use the provider as a default, select Make this my default search provider box. Click Add button to add the selected Search Provider.

Sorting and removing Search Providers

If you want to reorder or delete Search Providers, press Ctrl+Down arrow key or click the down arrow part of Search button and select Manage Search Providers.
Windows XP, Internet Explorer 8 Instant Search. To reorder or delete Search Providers, click down arrow part of Search button and select Manage Search Providers.

In the Manage Add-ons window, Search Providers tab, there is a list of all installed search engines. Below the list there are links named Move up, Move down and Alphabetic sort. You can also enable or disable search suggestions of selected provider.
Windows XP, Internet Explorer 8 Instant Search. Below Search Providers list are links to move selected provider up or down in the list. You can also sort providers alphabetically or disable and enable search suggestions of selected provider.

To remove a Search Provider, select it and click Remove. Please remember that Internet Explorer will not confirm this, the Search Provider will be deleted right away.
You cannot delete default Search Provider. Mark some other Search Provider as a default first by clicking on the provider name and then clicking Set as Default button.
Windows XP, Internet Explorer 8 Instant Search. To remove a Search Provider, click on its name and click Remove button. You cannot delete default Search Provider, mark some other provider as a default by clicking Set as Default button first.

Click Close to end managing Search Providers.

Using Find Bar for searching contents of currently open page

If you want to search for something in currently open web page, use Find Bar. You can open it by pressing Ctrl+F on your keyboard, clicking Find... button to the right of Search Providers list of Instant Search box, or by clicking the down arrow part of Search button and clicking Find on this Page....
Windows XP, Internet Explorer 8 Find Bar. If you have Instant Search box open, click Find... button to open Find Bar. Windows XP, Internet Explorer 8 Find Bar. To search within current page, click the down arrow part of Search button and select Find on this Page.

Blueish Find Bar appears right under Tab bar and Menu bar.
Type something in the Find: box and all matches will be automatically highlighted. You can turn highlighting on and off by clicking the Highlight All Matches button.
Windows XP, Internet Explorer 8 Find Bar. Type something in the Find box and all matches will be highlighted automatically.

Use Previous and Next buttons to move to the previous or next match on the page. The total number of matches is displayed on the right of Options button.

By default, Find Bar searches for any matches, not whole words and it is not case-sensitive:

  • office matches "office", "office-ready", "Microsoft Office" and "libreoffice"
  • present matches "present", "Present", "presentation" and "Represent"

To find only whole words, click Options button and select Match Whole Word Only.
To make search case-sensitive, click Options and select Match Case.
Windows XP, Internet Explorer 8 Find Bar. By default, Find Bar searches are not case-sensitive and do not match whole words. Click Options button to change that.

Close the Find Bar by clicking the X mark on the left.

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