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Does anyone know how to change the default search provider in IE8 Via Group Policy?

IE7 seemed to work okay but once I rolled out the IE8 browser update via WSUS, it defaults back to Bing search on all clients which is done Via group policy.

I have found some people making custom adm templates to change this behavior on Google but I cannot get a strait forward answer.

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3 Answers 3

In order to configure Search Providers when deploying IE8 via WSUS / Group Policy, you probably want to start by modifying your existing ADM file to support the new Search Suggestions and favicon features of IE8. The ADM file that we created for our environment is attached to the bottom of this post; you should be able to modify it to meet your own needs.

Once you have done this, you need to realise that one of the key differences between the IE8 installer and the IE7 installer before it is that the IE8 installer populates the following registry value, whereas the IE7 installer does not:

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchScopes]
"DefaultScope"="{0633EE93-D776-472f-A0FF-E1416B8B2E3A}"

This is the default GUID for Live Search / Bing, and when a user logs on for the first time after installing IE8, this value will be copied into the following location in the user profile:

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchScopes]
"DefaultScope"="<whatever the HKLM entry was>"

and used to set the default search provider. This is why previous methods of setting the default search provider like setting the lowest GUID and/or using an alphanumeric string instead of a GUID don't work any more by default.

The best way I have found to set the default search provider across the network is to delete the 'DefaultScope' registry value from 'HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchScopes' in your logon/startup script, and then use the old method of setting your preferred default search provider to use the lowest GUID and/or an alphanumeric string in the ADM file. Make sure you don't delete the whole of the SearchScopes key, as this may cause IE8 to crash under some circumstances; just delete the value itself, i.e.:

reg delete "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchScopes" /v DefaultScope /f

You may also want to set the HKCU DefaultScope value to the GUID of your preferred search provider, although be aware that once IE8 has run once, it saves the setting of the DefaultScope value in another location, in a binary format that you can't change:

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\User Preferences]

If you try to change the default seach provider by modifying the HKCU DefaultScope key when IE has already been run, you will get a message next time you try to use a search provider saying 'A program on your computer has suggested a new default search provider for Internet Explorer' and giving the user the option to change back. This seems to be part of the 'Prevent programs from suggesting changes to my default search provider' feature in IE8, and I don't know of any way round it. So you want to make sure that you get this registry key set correctly the first time round if you want to avoid annoying prompts for your users.

Updated ADM file for search providers including search suggestions & favicons follows:

; Based on 'Group Policy Search Providers ADM File', provided by schema_mangler
; Posted to microsoft.public.internetexplorer.general on 17 Nov 2006, 22:52
; Search Google Groups for the original, and see http://support.microsoft.com/kb/918238
; CRGS version changes:
;  Tidied up unnecessary [strings]
;  Changed Bing, Google, Yahoo, Ask to latest versions, added Search Suggestions
;  Added Amazon UK, eBay, Wikipedia via Microsoft site
;  Also set the Google GUID to the lowest value, so that it is default

CLASS USER
CATEGORY !!WindowsComponents
CATEGORY !!InternetExplorer

POLICY !!PopulateSearchProviderList
    #if version >= 4
    SUPPORTED !!SUPPORTED_IE7
    #endif
    EXPLAIN !!Search_Explain
    KEYNAME "Software\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchScopes"
    VALUENAME Version
    VALUEON NUMERIC 3

    PART "Live Search" CHECKBOX
        VALUENAME LiveChoice
            ACTIONLISTON
                KEYNAME "Software\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchScopes\{0633EE93-D776-472f-A0FF-E1416B8B2E3A}"
                VALUENAME DisplayName   VALUE "@ieframe.dll,-12512"
                VALUENAME URL   VALUE "http://search.live.com/results.aspx?q={searchTerms}&src={referrer:source?}"
                END ACTIONLISTON
    END PART

    PART "Bing" CHECKBOX
        VALUENAME BingChoice
        ACTIONLISTON
            KEYNAME "Software\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchScopes\{A6CF48A4-CC6B-46CA-B51A-AA3B0DC46532}"
            VALUENAME Codepage  VALUE NUMERIC 65001
            VALUENAME DisplayName   VALUE "Bing"
            VALUENAME FaviconURL    VALUE "http://www.bing.com/favicon.ico"
            VALUENAME FaviconURLFallback    VALUE "http://www.bing.com/favicon.ico"
            VALUENAME ShowSearchSuggestions VALUE NUMERIC 1
            VALUENAME ShowTopResult VALUE NUMERIC 0
            VALUENAME SuggestionsURL    VALUE "http://api.bing.com/qsml.aspx?query={searchTerms}&market={Language}&form=IE8SSC&maxwidth={ie:maxWidth}&rowheight={ie:rowHeight}&sectionHeight={ie:sectionHeight}"
            VALUENAME SuggestionsURLFallback    VALUE "http://api.bing.com/qsml.aspx?query={searchTerms}&maxwidth={ie:maxWidth}&rowheight={ie:rowHeight}&sectionHeight={ie:sectionHeight}&FORM=IE11SS&market={language}"
            VALUENAME TopResultURL  VALUE "http://www.bing.com/search?q={searchTerms}&src=ie9tr"
            VALUENAME TopResultURLFallback  VALUE "http://www.bing.com/search?q={searchTerms}&src=IE-TopResult&FORM=IE11TR"
            VALUENAME URL   VALUE "http://www.bing.com/search?q={searchTerms}&form=IE8SRC&src=IE-SearchBox"
        END ACTIONLISTON
    END PART

    PART "Google" CHECKBOX
        VALUENAME GoogleChoice
        ACTIONLISTON
            KEYNAME "Software\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchScopes\{012E1000-F331-11DB-8314-0800200C9A66}"
            VALUENAME DisplayName   VALUE "Google"
            VALUENAME FaviconURL    VALUE "http://www.google.com/favicon.ico"
            VALUENAME ShowSearchSuggestions VALUE NUMERIC 1
            VALUENAME SuggestionsURL    VALUE "http://clients5.google.com/complete/search?q={searchTerms}&client=ie8&mw={ie:maxWidth}&sh={ie:sectionHeight}&rh={ie:rowHeight}&inputencoding={inputEncoding}&outputencoding={outputEncoding}"
            VALUENAME URL   VALUE "http://www.google.com/search?q={searchTerms}&sourceid=ie7&rls=com.microsoft:{language}:{referrer:source}&ie={inputEncoding?}&oe={outputEncoding?}"
        END ACTIONLISTON
    END PART

    PART "Yahoo" CHECKBOX
        VALUENAME YahooChoice
        ACTIONLISTON
            KEYNAME "Software\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchScopes\{5A0025DA-7BEA-4F98-B987-298BCF7A396C}"
            VALUENAME DisplayName   VALUE "Yahoo!"
            VALUENAME FaviconURL    VALUE "http://search.yahoo.com/favicon.ico"
            VALUENAME ShowSearchSuggestions VALUE NUMERIC 1
            VALUENAME SuggestionsURL    VALUE "http://ie.search.yahoo.com/os?appid=ie8&command={searchTerms}"
            VALUENAME URL   VALUE "http://search.yahoo.com/search?p={searchTerms}&b={startPage?}&fr=ie8"
        END ACTIONLISTON
    END PART

    PART "Ask Jeeves" CHECKBOX
        VALUENAME AskChoice
        ACTIONLISTON
            KEYNAME "Software\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchScopes\{FB7569CA-999B-4C43-A9EE-F85AC0982157}"
            VALUENAME DisplayName   VALUE "Ask.com"
            VALUENAME FaviconURL    VALUE "http://sp.uk.ask.com/favicon.ico"
            VALUENAME ShowSearchSuggestions VALUE NUMERIC 1
            VALUENAME SuggestionsURL_JSON   VALUE "http://ss.uk.ask.com/query?q={searchTerms}&li=ff"
            VALUENAME URL   VALUE "http://wzeu.ask.com/r?t=v&d=eu&s=uk&l=dir&u=http://uk.ask.com/web?q={searchTerms}&iesrc={referrer:source?}&qsrc=3032&l=dir&o=379"
        END ACTIONLISTON
    END PART

    PART "Amazon (UK)" CHECKBOX
        VALUENAME AmazonUKChoice
        ACTIONLISTON
            KEYNAME "Software\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchScopes\{09AF8371-3F02-48AE-B039-21576F8A57E5}"
            VALUENAME Codepage  VALUE NUMERIC 65001
            VALUENAME DisplayName   VALUE "Amazon (UK)"
            VALUENAME FaviconURL    VALUE "http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/Associates/Apps/Search/favicon._V230744766_.ico"
            VALUENAME ShowSearchSuggestions VALUE NUMERIC 1
            VALUENAME SuggestionsURL    VALUE "http://asp.assoc-amazon.co.uk/suggestions?q={searchTerms}&t=amznsearch.uk.ms.vs-21"
            VALUENAME SuggestionsURL_JSON   VALUE "http://completion.amazon.co.uk/search/complete?method=completion&q={searchTerms}&search-alias=aps&client=amzn-search-suggestions/9fe582406fb5106f343a84083d78795713c12d68&mkt=3"
            VALUENAME URL   VALUE "http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=azs_osd_ieauk?ie=UTF-8&tag=amznsearch.uk.ms-21&link%5Fcode=qs&index=aps&field-keywords={searchTerms}"
        END ACTIONLISTON
    END PART

    PART "eBay" CHECKBOX
        VALUENAME eBayChoice
        ACTIONLISTON
            KEYNAME "Software\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchScopes\{39A4CFEC-5034-45C8-98B6-64AD1B5C0730}"
            VALUENAME DisplayName   VALUE "eBay"
            VALUENAME FaviconURL    VALUE "http://ie8.ebay.com/resources/images/favicon.ico"
            VALUENAME PreviewURL    VALUE "http://ie8.ebay.com/accelerator/search/?q={searchTerms}&s=3"
            VALUENAME ShowSearchSuggestions VALUE NUMERIC 1
            VALUENAME SuggestionsURL    VALUE "http://ie8.ebay.com/suggest/visual/?q={searchTerms}&s=3"
            VALUENAME SuggestionsURL_JSON   VALUE "http://sug.ebay.com/?q={searchTerms}&c=3"
            VALUENAME URL   VALUE "http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/710-61977-23097-0/4?satitle={searchTerms}"
        END ACTIONLISTON
    END PART

    PART "Wikipedia (en)" CHECKBOX
    VALUENAME WikipediaChoice
        ACTIONLISTON
            KEYNAME "Software\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchScopes\{8EDF1540-AEBC-4EA2-808D-788F5C7531BE}"
            VALUENAME DisplayName   VALUE "Wikipedia (en)"
            VALUENAME FaviconURL    VALUE "http://en.wikipedia.org/favicon.ico"
            VALUENAME ShowSearchSuggestions VALUE NUMERIC 1
            VALUENAME SuggestionsURL    VALUE "http://en.wikipedia.org/w/api.php?action=opensearch&format=xml&search={searchTerms}&namespace=0"
            VALUENAME SuggestionsURL_JSON   VALUE "http://en.wikipedia.org/w/api.php?action=opensearch&search={searchTerms}&namespace=0"
            VALUENAME URL   VALUE "http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:Search&search={searchTerms}"
        END ACTIONLISTON
    END PART

END POLICY

END CATEGORY
END CATEGORY

[strings]
SUPPORTED_IE7="At least Internet Explorer 7.0"
WindowsComponents="Windows Components"
InternetExplorer="Internet Explorer"
PopulateSearchProviderList="Populate List of search providers"
Search_Explain="Adds registry entries to HKCU\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchScopes for specific search providers.  Check or clear the checkbox next to each search provider.\n\n If you enable this policy setting and if the "Restrict search providers to a specific list of providers" Group Policy setting is enabled, the checked entries will be the only ones that appear in the Internet Explorer drop-down list. If the "Add a specific list of search providers to the user's search provider list" Group Policy setting is enabled, the checked entries will be added to the user's list of search providers.\n\n If you disable this policy setting or do not configure it, search will be governed by the other relevant policies in this category.  See the other policies mentioned here for additional information."
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You might find something in the following TechNet links:

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Assuming you're on Vista or Win7 - but if you're not yet, there are plenty of reg 2 adm converters out there as well. But if you are I suggest setting your search providers as you want them to be for everyone, then export the registry key found here:

HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchScopes

Remove any user specific items from that exported regey (there will probably one for FavIcon or something like that in each provider subkey).

Download this script: registry to ADML\ADMX script

Follow the instructions to run it, i.e.

cscript c:\..\reg_2_admx.vbs c:\..\Exported_HKCU_SearchScopes_RegKey.reg en-US "Microsoft IE Search Scopes policy"

Copy the results to the appropriate folders on your DC (assuming you're using consolidated ADM templates) and enable the policies. Worked like a charm for me.

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