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Internet Explorer 11 Search

By , logo. Last updated: 2017-10-05

How to use and configure Internet Explorer 11 Search capabilities in Windows 7, 8.1 and 10

The following tutorial applies to Desktop version of Internet Explorer 11. Modern UI/Metro version in Windows 8.1 is covered in a separate guide.

Internet Explorer 11 has search capabilities built into Address Bar. When you type a keyword or phrase into the Address Bar 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 will also see search suggestions from your default Search Provider while typing a word or a phrase into Address Bar.

You can still open Find Bar for quickly searching in the contents of currently open page by pressing Ctrl+F or F3. Find Bar now searches right away for any characters that you type into 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 This will return results from all web sites under domain -,,, etc.
You can use exact web site in site criteria to further narrow down the search results, for example:

Sometimes you need to search by top-level domains, such as ".ee" for sites in Estonia or ".us" for sites in the United States, ".biz" for business sites, ".tv" for television-related sites, etc. In that case use,, or for criteria, for example: "windows xp" sales -drop
Again, you can specify multiple criteria by separating them with spaces ( and you can exclude specific domains or websites (
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" filetype:doc

How to enable searching from Address Bar

Many Windows users upgrading from Internet Explorer 8, 9 or 10 do not see any search results from their Search Providers in Internet Explorer 11 Address Bar and entering search keywords or phrases end up with an error stating "Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage".
Internet Explorer 11, Address Bar without Search enabled. Trying to search from Address Bar results in an error page.

To use Search Providers in Address Bar, open Manage add-ons from Tools menu. Or use the following key sequence on keyboard (works only in English version of Internet Explorer): Alt, T, A.
Internet Explorer 11, Options menu. Click 'Manage add-ons' to change Search Provider options and enable searching from Address Bar.

Click Search Providers on the left, then click on a Search Provider name and make sure that Search suggestions is set to Enabled. Then put a check mark in the Search in the address bar check box.
Click Close after making changes.
Internet Explorer 11, Manage Add-ons, Search Providers. Tick the 'Search in the address bar' box.

Searching in Address Bar is now enabled.

Searching in Address Bar of Internet Explorer 11

To search from Address Bar, click it or activate it by pressing F4 on your keyboard. Type a few letters to start automatic searching.

To open a suggested search result, click or tap it. To open the search in Search Provider's home page and see more matches, press Enter key on keyboard or click the Search button (magnifying glass). To see results in a new tab, use keyboard shortcut Alt+Enter.

Because Internet Explorer 11 tries to autocomplete web addresses you have used previously, it is better to type a question mark (?) before starting a search. This will put Search Provider suggestions on top and address autocomplete will be disabled. Keyboard shortcut for this is Ctrl+E.
Internet Explorer 11, Searching from Address Bar. To prevent address autocompletion, type a question mark before performing a search in Address Bar.

Adding new Search Providers

If you have not customized the list of Search Providers, you probably have only one of them - Bing.

To add Google to the list of Search Providers, click Add on the bottom right of Address Bar results.
Internet Explorer 11, Address Bar search results. To add a Search Provider, click Add.

This will open the Internet Explorer Gallery page at with Microsoft-approved Add-ons and Tracking Protection Lists. Find "Google Search" and click the Add button.
List of Search Providers at Internet Explorer Gallery. To get a new Search Provider, click the 'Add' button for the engine name.

Add Search Provider dialog opens. If you want to use Google as your default search engine, select Make this my default search provider. Always check the Use search suggestions from this provider box to do less typing.
Click Add to confirm.
Internet Explorer 11, Add Search Provider. If you want to use the provider as a default, select 'Make this my default search provider' box. Then click Add.

Now you have two Search Provider icons while searching in Address Bar. To switch suggestions between Search Providers, click the provider's icon.
Internet Explorer 11, Address Bar search results. To switch between Search Providers, click the provider's icon.

Sorting and removing Search Providers

If you want to reorder or delete Search Providers, open Manage add-ons from Tools menu. Or use the following key sequence on keyboard (works only in English version of Internet Explorer): Alt, T, A.
Internet Explorer 11, Options menu. Click 'Manage add-ons' to reorder or remove Search Providers.

In the Manage Add-ons window, click Search Providers on the left. Below the list, on the right side of the window, there are links named Move up, Move down and Alphabetic sort.
You can also enable or disable search suggestions using the links in the Status section on the left. The Search in the address bar check box is quite self-explanatory, right? Wink
Internet Explorer 11, Manage Add-ons, Search Providers. Below the Search Providers list are links to move the selected provider up or down in the list. You can also sort providers alphabetically or disable and enable search suggestions for the 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 the default Search Provider. You'll have to first mark some other search engine as the default one by using the Set as Default button.
Click Close to finish 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 or F3 on your keyboard.
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.
Internet Explorer 11, Find Bar. Type something in the Find box and all matches on current page 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. Then office will match only "office", not "libreoffice" or "office-ready".
To make search case-sensitive, click Options and select Match Case. This will find only "office", but not "Office" or "oFFicE".
Internet Explorer 11, Find Bar. By default, Find Bar searches are not case-sensitive and do not match whole words. Click the 'Options' button to change these settings.

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

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