As we all know, Internet Explorer’s default search provider is Bing – which is not the best choice for most of us. It’s pretty easy to change this on a standalone computer – simple steps for popular browsers are described at Google help pages: https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/464?hl=en
Problem comes up when we need to change such thing in a domain environment with hundreds of computers / users. It’s obvious you won’t go to every single device and set it up manually. Googling for solution brought me few ideas, but in every single one – user was notified by IE that some program want’s to change default search provider and therefore user has to allow / disallow this action – in most cases user either will ignore / disallow or call IT – more a problem than solution actually. Two examples are shown below:
We want to be sure that new settings are applied and user is not notified or asked to do anything. Okay, how do we do that?
As always, settings are stored in Windows registry and you can find them under following key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchScopes – there you can find default Bing search provider settings.
But configuring / changing anything under this hive will show up IE’s notification to user. To avoid such things, we have to configure new default serach provider under following registry hive: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer
All registry keys should be prepared in GPO!
Step 1. Create new key named “SearchScopes” in HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer
Step 2. Generate random GUID, for example using powershell:
Generated GUID is going to be used as your SearchProvider GUID. Back in registry, create new key under SearchScopes named by GUID:
Step 3. Now, we have define some additional values under our new scope and there are few options (it’s up to you what’s needed or not):
- DisplayName (REG_SZ) – Simply, display name for your search provider. For example: “Google”
- FaviconURL (REG_SZ) – Favicon link
- ShowSearchSuggestions (REG_DWORD) – Used to enable / disable suggestions while typing in the address bar
- SuggestionsURL (REG_SZ) – URL responsible to suggestions on the searchprovider side.
- URL (REG_SZ) – Search URL.
Values that I used for Google are:
And this is how it looks in the registry:
Step 4. Now when our searchscope is configured we need to make it our default scope. And this is configured by following key:
All you need to do is to update / create “DefaultScope” (REG_SZ) key with your GUID value:
Step 5. At this point we need to restrict users to use SearchScopes specified by policy. In your GPO enable following Setting: User Configuration -> Policies -> Administrative Templates -> Windows Components -> Internet Explorer -> Restrict search providers to a specific list.
At the end your policy should look like:
Simply apply your policy and open up IE. In the address bar type in anything you want and you should see search results / suggestions from Google!
I hope that you find this article helpful 😉