How to Change the Default Search Engine on Windows XP

by Jean Brewer
Polka Dot RF/Polka Dot/Getty Images

Search engines. We all have our favorites. Some of us have preferences depending on what we are looking for or on our particular mood. Fortunately the Internet gives us a variety of search engines to choose from. Windows XP, however, always has the default search engine set to MSN Search. MSN Search is a good search engine, but may not necessarily be the one we desire to use on a daily basis. There is a way to change the default search engine in Windows XP to reflect our personal search engine preferences.

Making Changes

Step 1

Open Internet Explorer.

Step 2

Press "+T" to open the tools menu, then click "Internet Options." It is generally placed at the bottom of the list. The Internet Options window will appear.

Step 3

Click the "General" tab if it is not already highlighted. On the general tab are various settings you can change in Internet Explorer. The third choice on the window, approximately three-fourths of the way down, is the search option. Click the "Settings" button to change the search defaults. The change search defaults window will appear with some search providers listed. Some computers may only have one search engine listed here, while others will have several choices.

Step 4

If your preferred search engine is listed here, click on it. Click "Set default," then skip to Step 8. If your preferred provider is not listed, go to Step 5.

Step 5

Click "Find more providers..." on the bottom left of the window. You will be taken online to the web page that will allow you to add search providers to Internet Explorer.

Step 6

Click on the search engine of your choice. A window will appear to confirm that you want to add the search provider to Internet Explorer. Check the box beside "Make this my default search provider."

Step 7

Click the "Add Provider" button.

Step 8

Click "OK" on the change search defaults window to close the window.

Click "OK" on the Internet Options window to close the window.


  • If you add multiple search engines to Internet Explorer you can change search engines as desired by clicking the arrow to the right of the magnifying glass beside the search bar.
  • Microsoft calls search engines "search providers." As a result the two terms are used interchangeably in this article.


Photo Credits

  • Polka Dot RF/Polka Dot/Getty Images

About the Author

Jean Brewer is a self-starting computer professional who has been writing since 2008. Her work can be found on various websites and she is the author of "How to Write and Sell an Ebook," "Where to Work Online" and "Professional Help: How to Prevent and Fix Malware, Viruses, Spyware and Other Baddies." She is a computer repair graduate of Harcourt Education Direct.

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