Building Custom Search Providers for IE’s Search box

When the Internet Explorer team first introduced the Search Box next to the address bar in IE7, we also introduced an easy way for users to install search engines offered by websites that they visit. Users who want to add a site's search engine to the browser's search box can do so with just two clicks.

Building a Search Provider XML file is pretty easy for web developers, but for fun, I put together a little Internet Explorer Web Search Provider Builder tool that generates the XML file based on a simple web form. A few months after I built this tool, a new PM on the IE team was tasked with taking my sloppy ASP code and making it into a formally supported feature, posted on the official IE Search Guide page.

Unfortunately, the official Search Guide's builder feature was removed in a site redesign late last year (it wasn't very commonly used). Folks who want an easy way to build a search provider may simply use the original tool, found here:



<personal anecdote> The new PM referenced above became my wife just over three years later. 🙂 </personal anecdote>

Comments (7)
  1. frymaster says:

    cool, I can now search my forums directly from IE 😀

  2. Hans says:

    Interesting! Thank you

  3. says:

    You devil, you.

  4. Tim says:

    What if you have more than one search provider installed in IE 9 and you are blind and so you use only the keyboard, how do you easily switch from one to the other?

    I tried pressing CTRL+E to put focus on the address bar and express my intention of doing a Web search. Then, I typed something but if I press Enter, the default search provider runs. How do I switch to another provider that I have installed by using the keyboard. I tried pressing CTRL+Down, ALT+Down, I tried everything I could after typing in the text I was searching for, but nothing happens. Even if I try to press Tab, the focus does not leave the Address Bar, since Tab autocomletes. Please help.

  5. EricLaw [MSFT] says:

    @Tim: Great question. Short answer is to hit CTRL+E, press either the up arrow key or Shift+Tab to focus the Search Provider choices list, press right or left keys to select the desired provider, use Enter to select it, then type your query.

    See also…/363628a5-2ae6-4434-ae37-5f78a69e681a

  6. Mark Ellis says:

    Thank you so much. The MSDN search provider in the "official list" of search providers just redirects to the main MSDN page, which was starting to cost me a lot of time in my everyday development work. Your little tool had me quick-searching MSDN in no time.

  7. Aaron Wideen says:

    Hi, How can I send out a .xml file generated by this tool for others to install the search provider?


    EricLaw: The only way for the user to install it would be to have you host the XML on a webserver and install it using the JavaScript API.

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