Searching via the Search box is often easier than
visiting the search engine’s site directly, but you’re limited to using
either the default search engine or some other search provider that
you’ve added to Internet Explorer. But what if you regularly use
several search engines, depending on the search text or the results you
get? In that case, it’s possible to set up address bar searching for
any number of other search engines.
To see how this works, let’s run through an example. Follow these steps to set up address bar searching for Google:
Select Start, type regedit, press Enter, and then enter your UAC credentials. (In Windows XP, select Start, Run, type regedit, and click OK.) The Registry Editor appears.
Navigate to the following key:
a new subkey. The name of this subkey will be the text that you enter
into the address bar before the search text. For example, if you name
this subkey google, you’ll initiate an address bar search by typing googletext, where text is your search
I suggest using subkey names that are as short as possible to minimize typing. For example, I use the name g for my Google key (meaning that I can search by typing gtext into the address bar).
Select the new subkey and double-click its (Default) value for editing.
Type the URL that initiates a search for the search engine, and specify %s as a placeholder for the search text. For Google, the URL looks like this:
also have to specify the characters or hexadecimal values that Internet
Explorer substitutes for characters that have special meaning within a
query string: space, pound sign (#), percent (%), ampersand (&),
plus (+), equal (=), and question mark (?). To do this, add the
following settings to the new subkey. Note that these values work with
all search engines.
shows a completed example. The text that you type into the address bar
before the search string—that is, the name of the new subkey—is called
the search prefix.
Figure 1. A sample search prefix for the Google search engine.
do you know the proper URL to use for a search engine? Go to the search
engine site and run a search with a single word. When the results
appear, examine the URL in the address bar, which usually takes the
following general form:
Here, ScriptURL is the address of the site’s search script, and QueryString is the data sent to the script. In most cases, you can just copy the URL and substitute %s
for your search text when you set up your search prefix. I often
experiment with reducing the query string to the minimum necessary for
the search to execute properly. For example, a typical Google search
might produce a URL such as the following:
the query string, each item is separated by an ampersand (&), so I
delete one item at a time until either the search breaks or I’m down to
the search text (q=mcfedries in the earlier query string). To save you some legwork, the following are the minimal search URLs for a number of search sites:
All the Web:
Encarta (Dictionary only):