Steven's Notebook

Look Ma - No Hands!

Stopping Auto.Search.MSN.com

Still using Internet Explorer and tired of being taken off to auto.search.msn.com when you mis-type a URL? That’s easily changed.

  1. Start IE.
  2. From the View menu, select Explorer Bar > Search.
  3. Click the Change Preferences link. (if steps 3 and 4 don’t quite look like your system, look for a [Customize] button at the top of that panel (see below))
  4. Click the Change Internet search behavior link.
  5. Choose the With Classic Internet search radio button and pick a search engine (I choose Google).
  6. Click Ok (and optionally, close the Search Companion panel).

Done. Or are you? If you’ve closed the Search Companion panel, all looks good – typing garbage into the Address toolbar results in a “real” error message instead of a trip to MSN’s search engine.

But… quit IE and restart it and turn on the Search Explorer Bar again. Do you get anything you’ve seen before? No, because you’ve turned the Search Companion off. The problem is that the so-called “Classic Internet search” doesn’t give you the same options as you already selected. It defaults to using MSN to search, and the Customize button on this search bar gives a different set of options – one that does not include Google.

Goofy. Not a problem if you’ve installed Google’s toolbar, but odd nontheless.

(to get back, btw, choose that customize box to Use Search Companion again)

1 Comment

  1. Unfortunately, IE6 SP2 will keep looking for auto.search.msn.com if you type a wrong url (or your search terms) in the url bar directly, unless you disable that useful function. Microsoft said they did this to protect users from hijacking. According to this very well written page…

    http://www.sniff-em.com/sp2note.html

    …IE will send your terms to auto.search.msn.com which will then redirect you to google. An obvious breach of my privacy and also a waste of my time.

    So, the only solution is to alter the hosts file and add this line

    64.233.167.99 auto.search.msn.com

    64.233.167.99 is a Google IP. Google is already capable of handling those queries, even though they were formed for Live Search. Yes, the search engine wars have started!

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