How to customize the Start Menu search box

This is the last in our series of articles about Instant Search. In the previous articles we tried to explain how Instant Search works and how to improve it. In this article we are going to show you how to customize the Start Menu search box so it will return the results you want. As you will see, the customization procedure is very simple.

Right click on the Taskbar and select Properties.


The Taskbar and Start Menu Properties will open. Here, go to the Start Menu tab and click on Customize.

Taskbar and Start Menu Properties

In the Customize Start Menu window, scroll down with the mouse until you see the search related options shown in the screenshot below.

Customize Start Menu

Let’s go through each option and explain what it does:

  • Search – add or removes the Search shortcut found on the right side of the Start Menu;
  • Search communications – if checked, it enables searching through your e-mail messages and contacts list. Based on our experience, it works with Windows Mail, Outlook 2003 & 2007 and Mozilla Thuderbird. Disabling this option will speed the searches you make from the Start Menu search box;
  • Search favorites and history – when checked, it enables searching through your favorite websites and browsing history. This feature works with both Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox 2. Personally, I never used this feature and I chose to disable it after a few days.
  • Search files – here you have three options:
    • Don’t search for files – disables searching for files which greatly improves the search speed. This setting is recommended if you want to use the search box only as an alternative for clicking through the Start Menu tree;
    • Search entire index – searches for files through your entire index. The bigger the index is, the slower the search will be.
    • Search this user’s file – searches for files only in your user’s Documents folder. Enabling this option provides better search speed compared to the previous option.
  • Search programs – searches through the Start Menu shortcuts and installed applications.

Related articles:
Understanding Instant Search
How to improve Instant Search
How to configure the Taskbar and the Start Menu
Switch back to the Classic Start Menu
How to enable Natural Search and how to use it

2 thoughts on “How to customize the Start Menu search box”

  1. Windows Search 4.0 does not recognized Outlook 2003 to index
    I have this new notebok with Windows Vista Business with all the latest microsoft uptades. After install the update wndows search 4.0 I am unable to index or search any information on Outlook 2003. I am able to search for an other nformation on the notebook, but not the information on my outlook pst file. Also what happen is that the Microsoft Outlook icons does not show under the indexing options.
    Anyone can please assist me? I send several emails to Mcrosoft but no replies whatsoever. Thank you for any possible assistance to help me solving this urgent problem.
    PS: I have another laptop Hp with windows XP and with WS 4.0 and workes fine with no problems. So far I have tried several approaches; Repair Office, uninstall Office and re-install it, create a new profile in Outlook 2003 none worked. The Windows Search 4.0 just does no show the icon of Outlook as an option for indexing.

  2. vita magic
    sweet enough. my customize start menu lacks the “start” icon… so i can disable any kind of search but the search window itself wont go away. could you please help? i have no intention to dig into the registry editor or any of that kind… have no idea why my menu is different and shorter than its supposed to be

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