How to Fix: Internet Explorer 11 Won't Search from Address Bar

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Infopackets Reader Sally S. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I just upgraded to Windows 10. Prior to that I was using Windows 7, with Internet Explorer as my main web browser. After upgrading to Windows 10, I gave the 'Edge' browser a try but didn't like it, so I decided to go back to Internet Explorer. Unfortunately, it seems that the upgrade to Windows 10 broke my Internet Explorer search - previously I could type in whatever I wanted to search for in the address bar, but now it keeps telling me that 'This page can't be displayed' and 'Look for the page with your search engine', and 'Refresh the page in a few minutes' - none of which work. There is also a button to 'Fix connection problems,' but that doesn't do anything. The only way I can search using Internet Explorer is to go to google.com, then use the search form on the main Google page to do a search. Can you help me fix this vexing problem? "

My response:

I personally don't use Internet Explorer so I asked Sally if she would like me to connect to her system to take a look at the problem in depth. Sally demonstrated the problem, and then I tried it and Internet Explorer did exactly what she described. I also noticed that whatever query I typed into the address bar, it would try and access the query as a web site.

I knew this wasn't right, so I looked at Sally's "Search providers" via the "Add-ons" menu. There, I noticed an option at the bottom of the page that read "Search in the address bar and the search box on the new tab page". I placed a check mark beside that option, then closed Internet Explorer, then reloaded it and tried a search engine query in the address bar, and this time it worked.

Below I'll explain the steps in detail.

How to Fix: Internet Explorer 11 Won't Search from Address Bar

If your web searches in Internet Explorer 11 address bar aren't working, here's how you can fix it:

  1. First, launch Internet Explorer 11 if you haven't already.
     
  2. Next, click the cogwheel icon / gear icon near the top right of the screen, then click the "Manage add-ons" option.
     
  3. A new window will appear with the title "Manage add-ons". On the left of the window, click the "Search providers" heading.
     
  4. If you want to change your default search provider to Google (for example), now is the time to do it. In that case, first click on a search provider under the "Name" heading (near the top of the window). Once you have a search provider selected in the list, look near the bottom of the window and you will see a link that says "Find more search providers..." - click that link. A new Internet Explorer window will open up; scroll through the list and when you see Google (for example), click the "Add" button. Internet Explorer will then ask if you want to add your selection as a search provider; click the "Add" button to confirm. When that is complete, close all the Internet Explorer windows, then go back to the "Manage add-ons" by following Steps 1 through 3 again, then jump to Step 5.
     
  5. Next, locate your favorite search provider under the Name heading, then right click and select "Set as default". Once that is done, it's now time to enable search queries in the Internet Explorer 11 address bar. To do so: left click to select your favorite provider in the list of search providers; at the bottom of the window, you will now see an option that says: "Search in the address bar and the search box on the new tab page" - click that option, then click the Close button.
     
  6. Now it's time to test the functionality of the address bar search. To do so: type in your search query in the Internet Explorer 11 address bar. NOTE: if you use the exact same query as you did previously (when the search was not working), Internet Explorer will automatically try and access the same "query" as a web page because it thinks that the query you made previously was actually an attempt to access a website directly.

    When I was testing Sally's machine, I got hung up on this, thinking that the address bar search was still broken. In that case, do a query for something you didn't type in previously, like "this is a test for IE search in the address bar" and your query should now paste directly to Google, or whichever search provider you chose as default. Optionally you can delete your browser history and that will also clear up any 'confusion' Internet Explorer 11 has with web pages and search queries. To do so: click the cogwheel icon at the top right of the screen, then select Internet Options. Under the General tab, locate the Browsing History heading, then click the "Delete" button.

I hope that helps.

Additional 1-on-1 Support: From Dennis

If all of this is over your head, or if Internet Explorer is still broken and/or not functioning the way you expect it - I can help using my remote desktop support service. Simply contact me briefly describing the problem you're having and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

Got a Computer Question or Problem? Ask Dennis!

I need more computer questions. If you have a computer question - or even a computer problem that needs fixing - please email me with your question so that I can write more articles like this one. I can't promise I'll respond to all the messages I receive (depending on the volume), but I'll do my best.

About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of Infopackets.com. With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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