How to enable the new search widget in Windows 11

This is why Microsoft keeps adding unpopular features to Windows

How to enable the new search widget in Windows 11

Microsoft introduced a desktop search bar in build 25120 that was released yesterday on the Dev Channel Insider Preview show. The feature is being tested on a limited basis, so not everyone has access to it. But, if you don’t want to try it, here’s how to enable search widget in Windows 11 right now.

How to enable the search widget in Windows 11

1. Download the ViveTool app from its GitHub page.

2. Extract the contents of the ZIP file to any folder.

3. Open a Terminal window as administrator.

4. Copy and paste the following code into the window.

.vivetool addconfig 37969115 2

The command window should display a message that says “Function configuration set successfully.”

How to enable search widget in Windows 11 25120

Credit: Inside Rafael

Accessing the search bar

Close the command window and go to your desktop screen. The search bar will not be visible on it, even if you just enabled it. You can access it without restarting the computer.

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1. Right click anywhere on the desktop and select Show More Options.

enabling the search bar in windows 11

2. This menu has a “Show Search” option, it will have a checkmark next to it.

enable search widget in windows 11

3. Toggle the option to disable it.

Repeat the steps above and you should see the search widget on your desktop. Give it a try.

You do not like? Use the following command to remove the search bar.

.vivetool delconfig 37969115 2

You will need to restart Explorer.exe from Task Manager or restart your computer to apply the changes.

Some observations about the search widget in Windows 11

When you type your query into it, the search bar will display some results in a panel, also known as search suggestions. Click on it or press the Enter key and Windows 11 will open the results through Bing, in Microsoft Edge. Entering a URL like ghacks.net will directly open the website in Edge.

Windows 11 search widget results

There are no options to configure the behavior of the widget. The biggest problem here is that all the widget results open in Microsoft Edge, even if you have set a different program as your default web browser. There are no keyboard shortcuts to access the tool. The context menu of the search widget has some basic options for editing the text.

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Windows 11 search bar on the desktop

Having tried it, I think the widget doesn’t make sense, since you can do the same thing (paste a URL or search the web) directly from the Start menu. The new search widget in Windows 11 is quite annoying as it is not opaque and it hides part of the wallpaper. It stays on the desktop permanently with no option to hide it, and you can’t move the widget or resize it either. The widget is still at an early stage, so hopefully we can expect some improvements in the future.

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If you really need a similar launcher/search tool, try Microsoft PowerToys. It has a utility called PowerToys Run, which has more options than the new widget, as it can be used to find files on your computer, open applications, etc. The app is similar to the Spotlight tool on macOS. The PowerToys Run tool is automatically hidden when not in use and you can activate it with Alt + Space. It also respects your browser’s default settings to handle web searches.

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The Everything desktop search engine is also a great alternative, and you can use the Everything toolbar for quick access from the taskbar.

Have you tried the new search widget in Windows 11?

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