What’s New for IE8 Search

Hello World! I’m Sharon Cohen, Program Manager for Search in Internet Explorer 8.  If you’re already using IE8 Beta 2, you’ve probably already seen the new search features available in IE8, perhaps you’ve even tried them out. Today I’d like to show you these features in greater detail and fill you in on some of the things we were thinking about when we created them.

Our goal for IE8 is to make searching for what you need faster and easier. We want you to search for the right term on the right provider and get the right information as quickly as possible. Here’s how we make that happen in IE8:

  • Search Suggestions present you with suggested queries as you type which help you compose and research your query.
  • Visual Search Suggestions are suggestions which include an image and additional text. These can help you visualize what you are searching for and sometimes even get you the information you need without even leaving the search box.
  • The QuickPick menu enables you to easily switch to your secondary, non-default, Search providers allowing you to search with the right provider every time.
  • History results, directly accessible from the search box, show you pages you’ve already visited and save you a click or two. 
  • Automatic Search Accelerators allow you to send selected text on a webpage to any of your search providers skipping the cumbersome copy and paste step.    
  • Search query synchronization keeps the search box up to date with your most recent query term even if you search within a webpage instead of the search box. You can quickly edit or redirect your searches.

Search and Visual Search Suggestions

Search Suggestions allow your installed search providers to suggest different queries to you while you are typing. This is great when you aren’t sure of how to spell someone’s name or you can’t quite remember if the movie was called “The Birdcage” or “The Bird’s Nest”. You might already be familiar with textual search suggestions as they are already in use on some popular websites and in some toolbars. (IE8 supports JSON suggestions which some of these use.) 

In IE8, we expanded the notion of a suggestion. In addition to providing text suggestions, search providers can now deliver visual suggestions, suggestions which include an image. The picture below shows text suggestions from Live Search and visual suggestions from Amazon.

IE8 Live Search Text Suggestion and IE8 Amazon Visual Search Suggestions

Check out how Amazon customized the title of their suggestions section allowing them to indicate how many product matches are available for a given search term. You’ll also notice below how search providers can add additional separators to their suggestions. Both eBay and The New York Times have included separators which distinguish query suggestions from product or article results. 

eBay and New York Times Search Results With Added Separators

Above, you can see that some of the suggestions include some additional gray italic text. This text is simply a description, and provides some additional information about the suggestion or result. These allow you to make an informed decision about which selection might be most useful to you. 

To try out these, and other search providers, head over to the new IE Gallery site

If you own a website and are interested in supporting search suggestions, you can read more about how it works and how to implement suggestions on MSDN. Also, stay tuned to the IE blog for more info on this topic.

QuickPick Menu

Searching on the right provider, at the right time, is a key factor in helping you find the right information. Searching on Live Search for “The Office” returns good results for sites about the show or NBC, but if what you are really interested in is DVDs of The Office then you probably want to be searching on Amazon or eBay. With the QuickPick, searching on your secondary providers is just two clicks away. 

As soon as you click in the Search box, the QuickPick menu will appear. This menu shows the icons of your installed search providers. When you hover over them, you will see a tooltip with the provider’s name. 

IE8 QuickPick Menu

Click on the search provider you want to switch to and you’ll be off and searching on that new provider. Find on Page is also accessible from the QuickPick menu when you click on the “Find…” button. The QuickPick will drop below search suggestions after you start typing so you can access it at all times.

The QuickPick always remains a single line regardless of how many search providers you have installed, and in the default search box size, will hold up to eight providers on the QuickPick menu. To allow more providers on the menu, simply increase the size of the search box by hovering your mouse between the search box and address bar; you will see a horizontal arrow appear at which point you can click to drag the search box to your preferred size. 

Additionally, the order of your search providers can be changed, so you can choose to place your most frequently used providers upfront for quick access. To change the search providers order from Manage Add-ons; click the search box dropdown arrow and select Manage Search Providers.

History Results

The last section that you’ll notice in the search box dropdown contains results from your local History. Imagine you’ve already visited a site, you just can’t remember exactly what it was. This is where history results can be helpful, they show you where you’ve already been. The results are searched on by the URL and the title of the page. They are the same results you’ll see when you type in the address bar. Christopher and Seth posted some details earlier this week about how the address bar uses Windows Search to give you great results.

History Section of Search Results

Search Accelerators

By now, hopefully you’ve read about and tried out Accelerators (“Activities” in Beta 1). We hope you’ve noticed that all your search providers are now available as Accelerators. Your default search provider will always be your default search Accelerator and your secondary providers will always be available in the Accelerator overflow menu. 

IE8 Accelerators Menu including the Overflow Accelerators Menu

If you own a website, you may be thinking “well that’s great… but I want my search provider to support Accelerator Previews. Does that mean that I need to build both an Accelerator and a search provider?” Actually, no, you don’t need both of these! If you want to build a search provider which supports an Accelerator preview, you can do that by adding the Accelerator preview URL to your OpenSearch description file. Details can be found here.

Search Query Synchronization

One last cool feature you may not have noticed yet is search query synchronization. As you search on your installed search providers, IE will track queries done from within the websites of those providers. For example, if Live Search is one of your installed search providers, try this:

  1. Navigate to www.live.com
  2. Search for something from within the webpage
  3. Check out your search box

The term that you searched for is now populated in the search box. (Note that this may not work on all search providers due to redirections or changes in the URL that IE isn’t able to recognize and correlate to one of your installed providers.)

With this nifty little feature, if you ever need to switch search providers, your latest search query term is already waiting for you up in the search box. 

Hope you are out there enjoying all these great search features. Happy Searching!

Sharon Cohen
Program Manager

edit: Updated link in first paragraph under Accelerators

Comments (48)

  1. hAl says:

    Actually Live search is not providing suggestions at all.

    The managing search providers dialog states that Search suggestions are not even available for Live search

    See dialog:


  2. Khristopher says:

    You removed my favourite thing about the search bar.

    You used to be able to type in your search term, and then press tab, and then press the first letter of the search provider, and it would search that provider instantly. If there was more than one provider that started with the same name, then you just had to press the down arrow to choose another one and press enter. It was quick and painless. I miss it.

  3. game kid says:

    Agree with Khristopher’s first comment (it REALLY sped things up wrt search), type+TAB+letter should be brought back.

    I do like Search Query Synchronization.  I noticed it months ago and I think it helps the browser and page feel tighter-knit, as though the search bar was lifted from the page to the bar.  (Cheesy, yes, but my feelings nonetheless.)

  4. JackyMao says:

    What a wonderful IE search is!

    As in my mind, we can get more with in in address space. not just be a search space, but also a powerful command space.

    Seems like: "buy from amazon: notebook"

               "blogs: Sanlu naifen"

               "run: photoshop"

               "blablablabla: what to do on Moon’s festival night."

    It can be the entry of computer power (or internet power).

  5. JackyMao says:

    What a wonderful feature!

    As in my mind, we can get more with in in address space. not just be a search space, but also a powerful command space.

    Seems like: "buy from amazon: notebook"

               "blogs: Sanlu naifen"

               "run: photoshop"

               "blablablabla: what to do on Moon’s festival night."

    It can be the entry of computer power (or internet power).

  6. JackyMao says:

    What a wonderful feature!

    As in my mind, we can get more with in address space. not just be a search space, but also a powerful command space.

    Seems like: "buy from amazon: notebook"

               "blogs: Sanlu naifen"

               "run: photoshop"

               "blablablabla: what to do on Moon’s festival night."

    It can be the entry of computer power (or internet power).

  7. JackyMao says:

    I am so sorry~, it act so slow that i click on the submit for 3 times~!

  8. sonicdoommario says:

    Hey IE team, great job with the search additions. Just one tiny request.

    Can you make it so the search provider grabs the favicon from the site and displays it for custom search providers? This only works for the select engines, like Google, Wikipedia, Yahoo, etc.

    I have a few custom search engines added (like GameFAQs, The Weather Channel Gold, Zdaemon, etc), and they all have the little globe icon. I think it’d be nice if custom search providers can go to the site, grab the favicon, and display it.

    Just a minor suggestion, but it’d look a lot more smooth.


    Keep up the great move.

  9. Sterling says:

    Love the new search box in IE8 Beta 2. Thing that seems to be missing, though, is the ability to hold down the Ctrl and then using the up or down arrow key, change search engines.

  10. EricLaw [MSFT] says:

    Sterling– CTRL+Up/Down appears to work just fine.  What OS are you using?

  11. someone says:

    The performance while managing search providers or moving them up-down is very sluggish. The UI would be better if you change the ‘Move up-down’ & ‘Alphanumeric sort’ links to buttons. The cursor changes from hyperlink cursor to normal mouse pointer do not take place quickly. The providers also don’t move quickly enough. Instead of making users move them by clicking buttons, why not allow drag and drop? For those providers which don’t show or don’t have an icon, you should allow users to set their custom icon or lift the Favicon of the site; it makes searching from QuickPick very easier.

    Also is search history cleared along with regular history? There should be a button to clear only the search history. And Ctrl+Down seems to be working right on my IE8 beta 2 on XPSP3.

  12. Mantas says:

    Secondary search providers and being able to access them that easily – great feature.

  13. Esben2000 says:

    Does anyone know where a bug in IE8 can be reported?

  14. Jonah says:

    There here should be a way to type in your search text and then change among search providers to preview their search suggestions or visual search results without submitting the search to the web page. Or did I miss something?

  15. I do like the new search capabilities and the accelerators as well. However, there’s one accelerator missing in my opinion; and that’s a URL accelerator. When selecting a URL, I would like to have an option to go to that URL (even when it is not technically a hyperlink). Hope this will be implemented in the RTM.

  16. Sterling says:

    @ Eric Law [MSFT]: Hi. I’m running Windows XP (SP3) Media Center Edition but it now appears that an addon (IE7Pro) is disabling the Ctrl+Up/Down feature. Sorry, my bad.

    Keep up the great work with IE, it’s looking awesome!

  17. Murtaza says:

    I couldn’t find the issue on Connect and I can’t post new issues on Connect right now, so I am posting here.

    I got the “Internet Explorer cannot open the Internet site – Operation Aborted” modal dialog in Standards Mode while visiting the following link:


    After dismissing the dialog, I got redirected to the IE error page like it used to in IE7. Interestingly, the page is loading fine when emulating IE7. Now according to this blog, wasn’t this behavior fixed for IE8?


  18. mike says:

    it’s nice that you guys added this functionality but i would have prefer a download manager that can download video files

  19. Eduardo valencia says:

    Please add download manager to internet Explorer 8 !!!!!!

  20. Keith Hill says:

    I really like the Visual Search feature but how do I change search providers after I have picked one?  Say I pick Amazon and get Amazon’s pretty list but don’t find it.  I want to be able to select another provider and get the visual search drop down.  The biggest problem is that I start typing before I remember that I need to select my desired search provider.  Then when I pick it, I don’t get the visual search, IE8 just takes straight to the search provider’s result page. Doh!

  21. Keith Hill says:

    +1 for Eduardo suggestion.  Please add a good download manager to IE8.  Preferably a single window and have it use BITS for reliable downloads.

  22. If you’re already using IE8 Beta 2, you’ve probably already seen the new search features available in

  23. Xepol says:

    What happened to the ability to add custom search providers?  It appears to be missing from the website now.

    Frankly, without it, the Google browser is starting to look like a better option.  Please add it back.

  24. EricLaw [MSFT] says:

    @Xepol: All major search engines already have a search file constructed for their site.  You can still use this page to build one if you need to: http://www.enhanceie.com/ie/searchbuilder.asp

  25. Shawn says:

    Why does the "More accelerators" sub-menu repeat the same choices as the first menu?  That makes it hard to find the one I’m looking for (which obviously wasn’t on the first list, or I wouldn’t be using the sub-menu in the first place).

    That does not fit the Vista goal of "clear and concise".  Seriously, please take out the duplicates!

  26. OpenSearch – Search Functionality

  27. Felixz says:

    One thing missing in accelerators is ability to select text link: somesite.comsomepage.htm

    and have an option "Go to that address"

  28. Sebastien Zimmermann [MSFT] says:

    @Kristopher: We changed the Tab behavior since there is now a new piece of UI in the search box–the drop-down. Tab allows you to switch between the different sections of the drop-down when it is visible.

    You may still access the search box menu as you were before by using Ctrl+DownArrow instead of Tab. Note that this Ctrl+DownArrow behavior was available in IE7 as well.

    Hope this helps.

    @Esben2000: This bug is know and will be fixed in the final version of IE.

    @hAl: The Live service is still in Beta. This works for me when the language is [en-US] (in Tools->Internet Options->General->Language).

    @Shawn: Thanks. I have forwarded your feedback to the appropriate team.

  29. EricLaw [MSFT] says:

    @Felixz: You can use the "Linkify And Open" feature of IEToys to do this.  http://www.enhanceie.com/ietoys/

  30. hAl says:

    [quote]@hAl: The Live service is still in Beta. This works for me when the language is [en-US] (in Tools->Internet Options->General->Language). [/quote]

    – Tried adding [en-US] and readding search provider. Result => no search suggestions for Live search

    – Then tried removing original language and readding search provider. Result =>  Live search did indeed provide search suggestions

    – Added back original languange and moved it to top. Result =>  Live search did no longer provide search suggestions

    – Move original language back and [[en-US] tot top. Live search did indeed provide search suggestions

    Concluding: [en-US] needs to be top listed languages (in Tools->Internet Options->General->Languages) for Live Search suggestions in particular to work.

    In contrast for instance Wikipedia suggestions works with other languages as well or even indepedant of language.

  31. IEBlog says:

    Hello, My name is Sébastien Zimmermann. I’m the developer owner for the Visual Search Feature , which

  32. Lee says:

    Hi – I am finding that the search history is not cleared of website history along witht he main delete browsing history function. It is maintained as a suggested site even after clearing history.  Is this a bug?  You should be able to clear both at the same time.

  33. Esben2000 says:


    Great! Thank you for the answer 🙂

  34. geldlening says:

    Thank Sharon! Looking good, as usual. The search suggestions are a great addition to the browser.

  35. Robert says:

    So far, so nice. But all browsers are getting slower. Every update makes them bigger, nicer and – slower. Why is fast not the number one term? An lightweight, easy and fast IE. Doesn’t that sound great?

  36. Chris Quirke says:

    I have to ask; if we allow sites to squirt images into the Visual Search contents, can we trsut these not to exploit exposed surfaces?

    What types of images are permitted, and is there type checking?

    Can one disable this, if one suddenly has to?

    I’m thinking of recent WMF, GIF, GDIPlus etc. exploits.

  37. My favorite links from the 3rd week of September 2008

  38. Sebastien Zimmermann [MSFT] says:

    @Robert: Performance is one of our top priorities for IE8, please read the following blog post:


  39. Sebastien Zimmermann [MSFT] says:

    @Lee: Thanks. I am passing your feedback along.

  40. harry says:

    With only a single search provider selected you don’t need the quickpik box …its annoying …if you don’t use it

  41. Ray says:

    Just to let you know.

    With IE8 my mouse forward button stopped working! I have it set to "CLOSE" and I miss it a lot.

  42. My favorite links from the 3rd week of September 2008

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