How to Set Google as the Default Search Engine In Internet Explorer

UPDATE: As of November 25, 2016, I have a video tutorial for this. The written post continues below.

Internet Explorer has matured quite a bit since the release and subsequent infamy of its 6th version, IE6. Over the years, Microsoft has made many changes to the way the browser works, and overall, I’d say they’ve been successful in delivering a better browsing experience. However, they’ve also formalized certain parts of its configuration, and as a side-effect, it’s not always easy to make changes that are fairly straight-forward in one’s mind. A good example of this is changing the default search engine that’s used by the address bar.

When IE is first installed, it comes with Bing pre-configured as the only search engine, which should come as no surprise since Bing is Microsoft’s own search solution, a rival to Google. (Note: It’s possible that in my case, I had Bing pre-installed because I skipped the setup wizard when first installing Internet Explorer, so they reverted to the default settings.) However, as much as Microsoft loves to promote its own solutions, it’s fairly safe to say that Google’s the most commonly used search engine. So, naturally, it’s fairly normal for people to ask themselves how to remove Bing, and restore Google as the one go-to engine within Internet Explorer. If that’s what you’re looking to do, follow the steps:

Steps

  1. Click on the gear icon to the top right in the main Internet Explorer window.
  2. In the menu that appears, click “Manage add-ons.”
  3. In the “Manage Add-ons” dialog, locate the “Add-on Types” section to the left, and click “Search Providers.”The "Manage Addons" page

At this point, you should see the list of installed search providers on the right. In my case, I only saw Bing. From this point on, depending on whether or not you see Google, the steps will be different.

If you don’t see Google in the list:

  1. In the “Search Providers” section of the “Manage Add-ons” dialog, look for a link called “Find more search providers…” it should be to the bottom left. Click it.
  2. A website called the “Internet Explorer Gallery” should appear, and on it, you’ll see many popular search providers. Click on the title that represents Google.
  3. You should now see the page for the Google Search add-on, and on it, you’ll see a big “Add to Internet Explorer” button – click it.
  4. In the “Add Search Provider” dialog that appears, check the box that says “Make this my default search provider.” (If you also want Google to suggest websites to you when you’re typing in the address box, you can check the “Use search suggestions from this provider” box too.) Then, click “Add.”
  5. If you have the “Manage Add-ons” window open, close it.
  6. Close Internet Explorer, and re-launch it. (This is just to be safe. A friend of mine had to do this recently, even though it shouldn’t be necessary.)

Google should now be your default search engine – try by typing in the address bar for a search term, and pressing Enter.

If you do see Google in the list:

  1. Right-click “Google,” and click “Set as default.”
  2. Click “Close.”
  3. Close Internet Explorer, and re-launch it. (This is just to be safe. A friend of mine had to do this recently, even though it shouldn’t be necessary.)

And that’s all there is to it. It’s a bit more involved than it needs to be, especially if you don’t have Google in your list, but Microsoft has a way of formalizing things, in general. In terms of development, in my opinion, generalizing the concept of a “search provider” so that it’s a type of “add-on” is actually a healthy practice, I just feel they could have been done better from a user interface perspective.