If you are still using Windows 10, and why not, it is is a great OS, you may have a search bar on the desktop. What is it? How do you customize it? How do you delete it and stop it returning?
The desktop search bar is a widget that appears in the center of the Windows 10 desktop. It has nothing to do with the search feature in the taskbar at the bottom of the screen. It does not appear in Windows 11.
Microsoft Edge browser is part of Windows, so even if you do not use it, it is updated. A recent Edge update included the desktop search bar and it is set to automatically load with Windows.
Show the search bar on desktop
If you do not see the desktop search bar widget and want to try it:
- Open Edge browser.
- Click the three dots in the top right corner to open the menu.
- Select More tools > Launch search bar.
- Minimize Edge so that you can see the desktop.
When the desktop search bar is hidden below windows, press Shift+Windows+F to bring it to the top. You can then type in the search bar and search the web.
The search bar is really just a widget for launching Edge and performing a web search using Bing. However, you might find it convenient to use when Edge is not open and you want to search the web. It also makes the default Windows desktop a web search tool. Of course you can run Edge and then search, but the search bar cuts out a step.
Close and stop the desktop search bar loading
The default behavior of the desktop search bar is to automatically load with Windows, which means that it is there right in front of you each time you start your computer.
If you don’t want it to automatically load with Windows, click the three dots at the right side of the search bar and click Close search bar in the menu that is displayed.
A couple of options are displayed and one is Turn off auto-launch. Tick the box, click Yes, close and the search bar closes and no longer runs on startup. Don’t tick the other option or you won’t see this option again.
Another way to close the search bar is to click the icon at the right side of the taskbar.
Stop searches being tracked
When you enter something into the search box and press Enter, Edge opens and searches Bing. Your search history and the search results you click are remembered. They become part of your profile.
Click the three dots at the right side of the search box and click Guest in the menu. From now on, Edge opens in Guest mode to perform the search.
Favorites, history and other items are not used or saved in Edge Guest mode. It is very similar to the InPrivate (incognito) browsing mode. Click Guest in the toolbar and there is an option on the menu to return to your personal account.
If you have other profiles set up in Edge, they can be selected for the search bar. Searches are performed with that profile.
The search bar stays in the selected mode mode until you select another mode on its menu or until you quit Windows.
Disable the search bar on desktop
We have seen how to stop the desktop search bar, but it does not completely disable it. There are two registry entries that control the search bar: WebWidgetAllowed and WebWidgetIsEnabledOnStartup (source).
- Press Windows+R and enter regedit to open the registry editor.
- Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft
- If there is no Edge subkey, right click Microsoft, select New > key and name it Edge.
- Select HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft
- If there is no WebWidgetAllowed, right click Edge and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value. Name it WebWidgetAllowed.
- Double click WebWidgetAllowed and set the value to 0 (zero is No) or 1 (one is Yes).
- If there is no WebWidgetIsEnabledOnStartup, right click Edge and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value. Name it WebWidgetIsEnabledOnStartup.
- Double click WebWidgetIsEnabledOnStartup and set the value to 0 (No) or 1 (Yes).
I did not have either of the registry entries and had to create both. Setting both of the values to 0 (zero) stops the toolbar completely and you will not see it again. If you change your mind, set both values to 1 (one).
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