Searching in Vista quickly becomes second nature. Clicking the Start button and typing the name of a program brings it up immediately – no need to hunt through the long list of program folders. There are immediate results from opening the “Documents” folder and typing a word in the upper right hand corner, or by searching all locations with a click on Search on the Start menu.

Google complained that Microsoft had made it too easy for people to search for things and the EU threatened to start another expensive round of litigation, so Microsoft rejiggered the Search options in Vista Service Pack 1. It’s one of the few steps backward after installing the service pack.

vistasearch Vista Service Pack 1  removes “Search” from its position on the right side of the Start menu and some right-click context menus. It’s a small change but I missed it immediately. Theoretically Google and others can create their own indexing and search programs and fully integrate them with Vista but they’re not here yet, so the effect is that an extra click or two is necessary to search all locations – document folders and Outlook folders and network shares.

These are my favorite ways to begin a search in Vista after installing Service Pack 1. Pick one and add it to the list of commands that you’ve memorized.

  • Hit the Windows Key + F
  • Click the task bar and hit F3 on the keyboard
  • Open an Explorer window and hit F3
  • Create a regular shortcut by right-clicking on your desktop and clicking on New / Shortcut.
    • The location should be start-ms: search-ms:
    • The name should be Search
    • Once you’ve created the shortcut, drop a copy in the Quick Launch toolbar next to the Start button.
  • (added 04/08) Open a search window by hitting Windows Key + F, then drag the little magnifying glass to the desktop.

It’s also possible to restore the ability to search from right-click context menus after installing Vista SP1, but it requires editing the registry. Please don’t edit the registry until  you have deeply considered the warnings in this post!

Within REGEDIT, navigate to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOTDirectoryshellfind

Rename or delete the REG_SZ: ‘LegacyDisable’ value.

Right clicking on the Start button or any other folder will now offer the ‘Search’ context-menu option.

Now go search for things!

(Thanks to alert reader Paul Kulik for the correction!)

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