Add Context Menu Search Back to Vista SP1

Microsoft has recently published the KB 941946 article outlining changes to Windows Vista’s desktop search in SP1. 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.

Because of Microsoft’s effort to prevent a possible antitrust suit by the EU, 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.

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Microsoft has updated the user interface elements that are listed in the following list:

  • The Search option on the right side of the Start menu is removed.
  • The See All Results option is changed to the Search Everywhere option.
  • The Search Everywhere option passes the search arguments that are typed in the text box to the default search application as defined by the user.

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Getting Search back to Vista’s folder context and Start menu

In order to get the search option back to Windows Explorer’s and the Start menu context menu you will need to follow these steps:


This document contains instructions for editing the registry. If you make any error while editing the registry, you can potentially cause Windows to fail or be unable to boot, requiring you to reinstall Windows. Edit the registry at your own risk. Always back up the registry before making any changes. If you do not feel comfortable editing the registry, do not attempt these instructions. Instead, seek the help of a trained computer specialist.

  1. Click Start, and then click Run.

  3. In the Open box, type Regedit, and then click OK.

  5. In the left pane, locate and then click the following registry key:
  6. HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\shell\find 


  7. Rename or delete the REG_SZ: ‘LegacyDisable’ value.

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There is no need to reboot or logoff, changes take place immediately.

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

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Quick search reminder

Need to quickly fire up the search window? Each of the following methods will bring up the Search Results window:

  • Hit the Windows Vista Start button key and enter your search criteria.
  • Click on Search Everywhere if you wish to search your local media
  • Click on Search the Internet to search the Internet
  • Windows Key + F

  • Click on the task bar and press F3 on the keyboard.

  • Probably a lot slower but still an option, open Windows Explorer or use Start > Run and type search-ms: and hit Enter.

  • Open an Explorer window and hit F3

  • From a shell window (either Command Prompt or PowerShell) enter
  • C:\>start search-ms:


  • Create a regular shortcut by using the following steps:

    1. Configure the target as

  • explorer.exe search-ms:

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    2. Name it ‘Search‘ or anything you like.

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    3. Drop it in the Quick Launch toolbar next to the Start Menu.

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Another nice tip involves searching the web from your Windows Explorer search window. Once within the Search Results window you can enter your search phrase, next press Enter to search local media, or Shift+Enter to feed your criteria into IE’s default search engine.