If you type a term into the search field of the taskbar, Windows 10 enhances the local results with those from the web. If you find that annoying, you can deactivate this feature. However, Microsoft has changed the corresponding setting several times, most recently in the 2004 release.

In addition to setting Bing as the default in the Edge browser, the search in Windows 10 is another opportunity for Microsoft to force users to use its search engine. Usually, you want to find files on local drives and not get tons of mostly irrelevant results from the web.

Web search integrated with local results in Windows 10

Web search integrated with local results in Windows 10

No more GUI option ^

While it was still possible to deactivate the web search on the GUI up to Windows 10 1607, Microsoft has removed this option in the newer versions. The only alternative is to disable the feature via group policies or direct registry editing.

If you are using the Enterprise or Education editions, the group policy setting Don't search the web or display web results in Search still works. It can be found under Computer Configuration > Guidelines > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Search. There is no corresponding option under User Configuration.

This setting disables web search on the Enterprise and Education editions

This setting disables web search on the Enterprise and Education editions

This policy does not work for other editions. It is also evident from the overview of the GPO settings that are reserved for the Enterprise edition. Instead, users can write certain keys to the registry.

However, these have changed several times:

Until Windows 10 1607:

ConnectedSearchUseWeb (type DWORD32) with the value 0 under HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Windows Search

Starting from Windows 10 1607:

AllowCortana (type DWORD32) with the value 0 under HKLM:\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Windows Search

Starting from Windows 10 1803:

BingSearchEnabled (type DWORD32) with the Value 0 under HKCU:\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Search

Starting with Windows 10 2004:

BingSearchEnabled does not work anymore. It has been replaced by DisableSearchBoxSuggestions under

HKCU:\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer

Although the key is located in the Current User section, a user needs administrative rights to change this setting for their account. However, if they log on with a privileged account for this purpose, then they are in the wrong user branch of the registry hive.

Disabling web search for specific users via GPO ^

The good news is that there is a group policy for this and so you don't have to enter the key directly. It can be found under User Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates Policy Definitions > Windows Components > File Explorer and is called Turn off display of recent search entries in the File Explorer search box.

The setting which also affects the Pro Edition is only found in the User Configuration branch

The setting which also affects the Pro Edition is only found in the User Configuration branch

In contrast to the setting mentioned above, which exclusively applies to the Enterprise Edition, this setting only exists for the user configuration. Windows 10 Enterprise users can choose between these two options, but those who have a smaller version of the OS are limited to the user-specific setting.

Disable web results with PowerShell for all users and editions ^

However, this only applies if the setting is configured using group policies. If you write DisableSearchBoxSuggestions directly into the registry branch under Local Machine, you will switch off the web search for all users.

With PowerShell, you could do the following in a session with administrative rights:

if( -not (Test-Path -Path HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer)){
  New-Item HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer
}
Set-ItemProperty -Path HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer `
  -Name "DisableSearchBoxSuggestions" -Value 1 -Type DWord

Since the Explorer key does not exist by default, Test-Path checks whether it exists. If this is not the case, New-Item will create it and then Set-ItemProperty sets the value for DisableSearchBoxSuggestions to 1.

Enter the registry key DisableSearchBoxSuggestions under Local Machine to disable the web search for all users

Enter the registry key DisableSearchBoxSuggestions under Local Machine to disable the web search for all users

In managed environments, on the other hand, you will most likely configure this registry key with group policy preferences to turn off the web search for all Pro edition users.

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