Windows Vista SP1 – the case of the missing Search item

SearchMIA Now that we're starting to open the floodgates to the masses, one thing that will likely become apparent is that there are some subtle user interface changes.  For those of you that like to click the Windows Pearl (also known as the Start button), then click Search, you are in for a little surprise.

As you can see to in the screenshot at right, the Search menu item is missing in action.  Why?

Well, for the gory details, you'll want to review the KB article at and some of the developer documentation at

From the KB, here are some of the changes to the user interface for Windows Vista SP1.

Control Panel

  • The Associate a file type or protocol with a program dialog box lists the search protocol under Protocols.
  • The Set your default programs dialog box lists Windows Search Explorer as a selectable program.
  • The Indexing Options dialog box includes a Pause button. When you click the Pause button, the Windows Search Indexer stops indexing new content for 15 minutes.

Start menu

  • 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 by using the search protocol syntax

This update also sets many of the general search entry points in Windows Vista to use the new search protocol. The new search protocol calls the default desktop search application. These search entry points include the following:

  • When you press the Windows logo key+F, the default application for the search protocol starts.
  • When you click Start and then press F3, Windows Explorer opens the default application for the search protocol.
  • When you press CTRL+F in Windows Explorer, the default application for the search protocol starts.
  • In Windows Explorer, the Search Everywhere option appears on the toolbar as soon as a search starts. When you click this option, the default application for the search protocol starts.
  • You can no longer right-click the Search option on all containers.
Comments (9)

  1. Chris McQueen says:

    Well, I don’t think I’ll miss it, I never used it anyway.  It took me five minutes to figure out what had changed.

    Maybe place an arrow or X on the screenshot so we know what we’re looking for.

  2. Chris McQueen says:

    Or, not looking for, as in this case…

  3. PatriotB says:

    I know that these changes in general were made for … competitive reasons 🙂 … but I don’t see why the Search menu item itself had to go.  Couldn’t it have been made to just launch the default search application?

  4. Keith Combs says:

    I’m with you on this.  Since you can obviously use the engine that will not be named, I see no reason for it to disappear.  Strange.

  5. Poltergeek says:

    I use the right-click search feature all the time.  I just installed SP1, and now it’s gone.  That is going to drive me crazy!  Why is that a good idea?  How can they just remove something so useful?  What the heck is Moronsoft thinking?

  6. Richard says:

    To restore the context menu, rename or delete the "LegacyDisable" value under the following registry keys:




    I agree – the start menu search button shouldn’t have been removed. Surely it couldn’t have been that difficult to make it launch the default search application?

  7. slickwillie says:


    Thanx much for posting this fix.  I really missed  that feature.  

  8. Ramesh says:

    Restore the Start menu Search link in Vista Service Pack 1 | The Blog:

  9. ML49448 says:

    I am utterly amazed that Microsoft sunk to such low levels.  Sure, power users can remember to press window-f or start-f3, or hack their registry.  But now regular users are lost in the dark.  I bet some people will never use vista again because of this.  Am I wrong?  Are there really that many people who use third party search engines?

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