Thursday, April 16, 2009

Removing Live Search from Internet Explorer 8

This week, we had to prepare an Internet Explorer 8 rollout at a customers side. This customer had very strict requirements which Accelerators, Links and Search providers should be installed.

We thought this should be no problem with the Internet Explorer Administration Kit (IEAK) so we created a package with it. We added the search providers, accelerators and links the customer wanted to have and imported them with IEAK to the package we wanted to created while also activating the option that no default items should be added.

Using VMWare Workstation we then tested our package (did I mentioned which great invention Snapshots are?) and everything looked quite good except that the search box beside the address bar still showed Live Search (not as default, but anyway) like this:

After several tests we are sure this wasn't a failure inside the package, but instead some "by design" issue. Tracking this down inside the registry we found that IE8 get's the list of Search providers from
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchScopes.
However, it also checks
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchScopes
and if it finds a search provider there that is not already shown, it will simply display it as well. And Live Search did come from this HKLM key.

We resolved this issue by NOT adding any search provider inside the package and executing two batch files after the installation of IE.

IESearchProvider_UserSet.bat will remove Live Search from the HKCU SearchScopes, add Google (from IESearchProvider_GoogleSearch_User.reg) and make this the default.

IESearchProvider_ComputerSet.bat will remove Live Search from the HKLM SearchScopes, add Google (from IESearchProvider_GoogleSearch_Computer.reg) and make this the default.

Both scripts work identically, except one check HKCU and the other HKLM. Both check if the Google search provider is already installed (we have created our own GUID for this) and if not it will be added, set as the default and finally deleting the Live search provider.

We have added these commands to the Internet Explorer GPO (..UserSet.bat to the user scripts, ...ComputerSet to the computer scripts). And don't worry: This script will work even if IE8 is not rolled out, IE7 can use the Google search provider as well.

You can download all files here.


  1. Thanks for making these available to the public. It's a total crock of _____ that you simply can't remove it in IE8 like you could any other search engine or add-on... this is just one more example of how Microsoft is trying to corner markets that it doesn't understand with a MS knows best attitude-- what's next from MS?, not being able to change it from Live Search? Makes me want to 'bing' them over the head... welcome to the machine!

  2. I've been struggling with this all day. I've installed IE8 and attempted to set Google as the default Search Provider and could not. I've tried every fix I've found amongst the hundreds of posts and complaints I've found. I finally uninstalled IE8 and installed IE7 and was able to accomplish my goal after wasting the entire day. Will these two batch files work on XP Media SP3?

  3. @Tim Turner: I think so. We have tested them on XP SP2 (German) XP SP3 (MUI), so I think it should work on MCE also. I don't think MCE is different from normal XP in this case.

  4. I think it may be easier than that. You can't remove the current default search provider so I just added Google (my preference) as the default, and was then able to remove the live search by pressing the "remove" button.

  5. @Stubbo: If you are having just one computer this might be an option, but if you need to click "Remove" on 400+ machines...

  6. I don't know if you're aware of the fact that this is a widespread problem with IE8. Many people have reported the problem of an error message when starting IE8, along with an inability to change default search providers. (See http// a good summary of the problem.) After trying other fixes, I downloaded and ran your batch files and they solved part of the problem for me. Thank you. Unfortunately, the annoying error message still displays on IE8 startup. But at least I have gotten rid of Live Search and have successfully indicated Google as my default search provider. Could you possibly come up with another fix for the error message?

  7. I found the best way was to uninstall IE8 and use a better browser, Firefox.

  8. Rick U. Thanks so much for making these bat files available. This worked like a champ. It is great that people like you make it so easy for the rest of us!

  9. Than you very very much. It worked for med and it is marvellous. You two small files saved me a lot of work. Microsoft think that they can force peaple to love their search tool!! This is quite stupid. Love never comes by force!

  10. I have the same situation as Anon. Your batch files are the only thing that have got rid of Live Search, though, so I don't want to sound ungrateful - I've been trawling for fixes to this for weeks, on and off, as it's not a major problem, just a typical MS annoyance. I use Firefox for general browsing, but the company uses Sharepoint and that's only set up for IE...

  11. Thanks for restoring a little of my sanity, your batch files worked great on my IE8.

  12. Thank you! Who knew, back when you posted this, that you'd still be helping people with this little download in 2013? I hate Bing and Livesearch and couldn't find a solution anywhere else. Many thanks!

  13. I can only repeat the last comment thanks for the solution and your willingness to share it with others.
    A Grateful user

  14. After two days going nuts trying everything, found your link and in two minutes solved my problem. Thank-you very much for your work . . .
    ► ► nine years ago! ◄ ◄