How to turn off web search in the Windows 10 Start menu
Searching in Windows 10 returns local files, programs and settings by default, but also web results. While this can be useful for some operating system users, it is irritating or unnecessary for others.
Since most web results are generic search suggestions, this is just a faster way to run searches instead of showing results directly in the interface.
If you search for gpedit.msc for example using search in Windows 10, you will notice that the correct result is displayed at the top.
Below, however, are the web results which make up the bulk of the results list. While some results can sometimes be useful, others seem out of date, eg gpedit.msc vista, and of little use because of it.
Update: Find out Microsoft has broken “turn off web search” in Windows 10 version 1803
Disable web search in Windows 10
I will never use search for several reasons. Firstly, I don’t need it because I want local files and settings to be returned exclusively when I run a search on Windows 10.
Second, the suggestions are too generic most of the time and third, since I have a browser open all the time on my system, I can also search using it without having to add another step to the process.
Fortunately, Microsoft has added options to turn off web search in Windows 10 so that only local results are returned.
The problem with this right now, however, is that it won’t work for everyone. While Microsoft has added policies to block web searches in Windows 10, they don’t seem to work in recent versions, at least not for everyone.
However, this is more than likely to be sorted out before release.
Turn off web search using Group Policy
- To open the Group Policy Editor, press the Windows key, type gpedit.msc, and press Enter. Note that the editor is (probably) only included in the Pro and Enterprise versions and not in Windows 10 Home. If you’re running at home, check out the other methods listed below instead.
- Navigate to the following path using the left sidebar: Local Computer Policy> Computer Configuration> Administrative Templates> Windows Components> Search
- Search for “Do not allow web search” and double-click it. Toggle the preference to on.
- Look for “Do not search the web or show web results in search and double-click it. Toggle the preference to on.
- Search for “Do not search the web or show web results in Search on limited connections” and double-click it. Toggle the preference to on.
This method worked in earlier versions of Windows 10 and it is very likely that it will work in newer versions as well.
Disable online registry search
The following method is useful for Windows 10 Home users who don’t have access to Group Policy Editor.
- Press the Windows key, type regedit.exe and press Enter.
- Navigate to the following key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE SOFTWARE Policies Microsoft Windows Windows Search
- If the key does not exist, right click Windows and select New> Key and name it Windows Search.
- If the ConnectedSearchUseWeb preference exists, double-click it and set it to 0 to disable web search in Windows 10.
- If it doesn’t exist, right-click Windows Search and select New> Dword (32-bit) Value, name it ConnectedSearchUseWeb, and set its value to 0.
Update: Microsoft has removed the option to disable web searches in the settings user interface. The following method no longer works.
Probably the easiest option of the four methods to turn off web search in Windows 10.
- Start a search by pressing the Windows key and starting to type. Don’t press Enter though.
- Locate the settings icon on the left of the search interface and click on it.
- Scroll down until you find “Search online and include web results” listed as an option.
- Toggle the on-off switch.
- Some users have reported that this option is only available if Cortana is disabled.
Disable web search using firewall
What you can do instead for now is block search access using Windows Firewall. If you open the firewall configuration, you will notice that a search rule is already defined there that you just need to disable.
To note: Search is listed as an option in stable builds, but more recent Insider builds no longer seem to have this entry. You may need to block “cortana” instead, but this can also affect the functionality of the digital assistant.
- Press the Windows key, type Windows Firewall, select the result “Windows Firewall with Advanced Security” (in newer versions of Windows 10 “Windows Defender Firewall with Advanced Security”) and press Enter.
- Select “Outbound Rules” on the left.
- Click on the “name header” of the outgoing rule list to sort the list alphabetically.
- Scroll down until you find “Search” listed and double-click on the entry.
- Toggle the action from “allow connection” to “block connection”.
When you run searches now, web results no longer appear in search results. Please note that a “Cannot connect to search, please make sure you have internet” message appears in the Start menu if you prevent search from making outbound connections.