Change IE Default Search Provider with GPO

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If you’re getting bored of your current default search engine in Internet Explorer or you want the Corporate default search engine to be Google this is the post for you. Microsoft have not made this easy not even with the default Group Policy Templates.

The different search engines providers are located in HKCUSoftwareMicrosoftInternet ExplorerSearchScopes where the DefaultScope key defines the default search provider. The Bing key is {9F4BEE75-5E51-4568-87AF-67C35184D4B5} and Google is {9F4BEE75-5E51-4568-87AF-67C35184D4B5}. You will see this clearly by clicking the image above.

So to change only the default search provider you can push this key with Group Policy Preferences, but if you don’t have the Google Add-On configured on the client side you will probably get into problems. The best solution is to add all the providers you want on the Windows 2008 Server you’re using to manage GPO or a Windows 7 machine with RSAT.

The subkey FaviconPath which contains a user profile location can be ignored because it will automatically be recreated. If you don’t want search engine suggestions you can drop those 2 keys or set the ShowSearchSuggestions to 0 to disable it. This will make it possible to enable it later by setting the value to 1.

Tell me what you think or if you have any better solution by dropping a comment below.

13 Responses to Change IE Default Search Provider with GPO

  1. My preference is to use unattend.xml to make this the default setting. If I can avoid doing it via Group Policy or some other means, then I can avoid the processing hit at logon.

    However, if you haven’t planned ahead, then you’ll need to use this method. You can also enforce the setting via the administrative templates.

        • Hi, Aaron are reffering to unattended.xml that you can edit with Windows Automation Installation Kit (WAIK). So if you are deploying your Windows 7 machines with MDT or SCCM you can pre-edit this file before the roll-out.

  2. Hello Everyone,

    Is there a way of implementing this on a Windows 2003 Server with Win7 workstations.

    I work for a school and we need to make the Google as the default search engine and disable all the other.

    Is there a way of doing this at the GPO level.

    Many thanks in advance,

  3. ….So firstly those registry keys are actually the same key. Secondly, I do believe that they are ‘randomly’ generated (at least to some extent).

    Best advice would be to set up the desired search engine on a machine and retrieve it’s registry codes for the search engine you want to make sure you have the right ones for your fleet of machines.

  4. I’m interested to know if one can still use unattend.xml to set Google as the default search engine using SCCM/MDT 2013 to deploy Windows 10 with IE11 built in – thanks

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