Have SP1? Want your search back?

On February 17, 2008, in Vista, by

Due to a change in SP1, contextual search has been removed.

(Translation because certain search companies complained, the EU threatened to start another antitrust suit) 

“Microsoft has recently published a KB article outlining changes to Windows Vista’s desktop search in SP1 but I’d like to elaborate a little bit based on my own experience with the changes. Windows Vista SP1 allows the user to change their default desktop search provider from the built-in Windows Desktop Search that ships with Windows Vista to another 3rd party desktop search provider. As noted above, the Search option has been removed from the right side of the Start menu. Users will also notice “See all results” has disappeared when doing a search via the Start menu. Instead, you will see “Search Everywhere”. Search Everywhere will launch whatever is the user’s default desktop search program.  In Windows Explorer, users will also see a “Search Everywhere” option in the toolbar as well. ” http://windowsvistablog.com/blogs/windowsexperience/archive/2007/09/24/experiencing-windows-vista-service-pack-1-beta.aspx

Overview of Windows Vista desktop search Changes in Windows Vista Service Pack 1:

Stealing a post from Dean Wells

You can also restore the context menus –

Within REGEDIT, navigate to


… rename or delete the REG_SZ: ‘LegacyDisable’ value.

Right clicking on the Start button or any other folder will now offer
the ‘Search’ context-menu option.

Each of the following will also bring up the Search Results window –

1. Hit the Windows key and enter your search criteria
a) hit the up arrow three times and then enter if you wish to
search your local media
b) hit the up arrow twice and then enter to search the Internet
2. Windows Key + F
3. Click the task bar and hit F3 on the keyboard
4. Open Windows Explorer or use ‘Start –> Run’ and type “search-ms:”
(without the quotes) and hit enter
5. Open an Explorer window and hit F3
6. From a shell [cmd.exe or PoSH], enter –

C:\>start search-ms:

7. Create a regular shortcut –
– configure the target as ‘explorer.exe start-ms:’
– name it ‘Search’ or something to your liking
– drop it in the ‘Quick Launch’ toolbar next to the ‘Start Menu’

NOTE – once within the ‘Search Results’ dialog, enter your critera
followed by ENTER to search local media or SHIFT+ENTER to
feed your criteria into IE’s default search engine.


7 Responses to Have SP1? Want your search back?

  1. Chakkaradeep says:

    Excellent! I am really happy about this! Windows Search rocks!

  2. Alhassan Abdulkadir says:

    Thanks for the info….. I’d been biting my nails trying to figure out how to get this back, almost to the point of uninstalling SP1!

  3. Rob says:

    What was infuriating about the Sp1 change was that even after going to Start->Default Programs->Set Your Default Programs and selecting the Windows Search the context menus were not restored. I stumbled onto the F3 method, but whatever default path it used, a simple find for “*.exe” found nothing. The UI change was a giant step backwards.

  4. LarryE says:

    Thanks for this. Old habits are hard to change.

  5. Ben says:


    Operational efficiency is just halted by stuff like this. Every time microsoft makes a change like this, I assume it fits into some grand design that they want you to start changing to…but FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!! FIND ANOTHER WAY TO GET US TO ACCEPT YOUR NEW WAY DOING THINGS THAN STOPPING OUR OPERATIONS. And then all the user calls we get with stuff like this.
    I mean there are so many little things that keep you rolling and high performers know how to use them – stop throwing wrenches in our gears please.

  6. EricM770 says:

    Blame Google for whining and crying and causing this stupid change. I’ve seen Google desktop and search installed on many new PCs and see why they’re so slow. The integrated Vista search is great, too bad MS had to cave due to whiny crybabies.

  7. Rustiferch says:

    Im sorry, but in reply to Ben.
    Don’t bag out the company, yes they have made some whopper mistakes over the years, but they wanted us to have this newly improved search in vista. It was the other companies that call ‘MONOPOLY’ when they don’t get their way and want to be able to take the search feature over. Microsoft had to get rid of it in a hurry as they were threatened to be bitten hard from many directions. if they had time they could have made the removal and option to re-add it much better before vista was released or better by sp2. I blame all the other companies for this error in judgement.