How to Change Your Browser's Default Search Engine

By Carol Luther

Even if you have a massive collection of bookmarks, you are likely to use search engines to locate new resources, videos and other information on the Web. All of the major Web browsers have default search settings, and each browser also provides an option for making your favorite search engine the default when you perform a search. The configuration procedures vary by browser, but you can change this setting with just a few clicks of your mouse.

Google Chrome

Step 1

Place your mouse pointer on the Chrome “Settings” icon (it looks like a small, flat wrench) on the far right side of the address bar. Click once on this icon to open the drop-down menu.

Step 2

Scroll down and select “Options” from this drop-down menu. The Basics menu opens, displaying five sections you can modify. Locate the “Search” section near the bottom of the Basics menu.

Step 3

Click the inverted triangle at the end of the box that shows the name of your current default search engine. This opens a drop-down menu from which you can select another search engine. Highlight your preference, such as Bing or Yahoo, and select it as your default search engine.

Step 4

Close the window after you’ve made a selection by clicking the “X” on the window tab. Your search engine preference is saved in Chrome.

Step 5

Enable protection for your chosen search engine settings in Chrome and prevent unauthorized changes by installed programs. The Chrome browser does not have a menu option to prevent changes to the default search engine, but developers and software administrators enable this feature by modifying the command line for the browser’s startup routine. You should attempt this only if you understand the use of command line switches.Right-click the "Chrome" icon on your desktop or taskbar. Choose “Properties” from the context menu to open the Shortcut window, where you will see the path to the application displayed in the Target box. Type “--Protector” (without quotes) at the end of the file path and close the Shortcut menu.

Internet Explorer 9

Step 1

Click the “Sprocket” icon at the top right corner of the Internet Explorer window to open the Tools menu.

Step 2

Select “Manage Add-ons” from the list. In the Manage Add-ons window, select “Search Providers” from the list in the left column. This displays the available search engines in the right column. The word “Default” appears next to the name of your current default search engine.

Step 3

Choose another search engine, such as Google, by placing your cursor on its name. Right-click on the name and choose “Set as Default” from the context menu to overwrite your previous settings.

Step 4

Prevent programs and extensions that you install on your browser from resetting or overwriting your preferred search options by placing a checkmark in the box next to “Prevent programs from suggesting changes to my default search provider” at the bottom of the Manage Add-ons window.

Step 5

Close the “Manage Add-ons” window by clicking the “X” in the top right corner or by clicking the “Close” button near the bottom of the window.

Firefox 10

Step 1

Click the inverted triangle beside the icon for your current default search engine on the left edge of your Firefox search box. The Firefox search box is to the right of the address bar, just below the main toolbar at the top of the browser window.

Step 2

Choose “Manage Search Engines" from the drop-down menu. Place your cursor over the search engine that you want to use. Click the “Move Up” button until your choice is the first search engine in the list.

Step 3

Close the “Manage Search Engines” box by clicking the "OK" button.

Step 4

Block changes to your search preferences by setting Firefox to alert you when a program attempts to modify the browser's settings. Open the “Tools” menu on the top toolbar and select “Options.” Click the “Lock” icon to open the "Security" tab. Tick the box beside “Warn me when sites attempt to install add-ons." Close the dialog window by clicking “OK."

Tips & Warnings

  • Create a custom list of search engines in your Chrome browser by typing the URL of a search engine such as YouTube or Wolfram Alpha in Chrome’s address bar. Leave the site window open and click the “Tools” icon. Choose “Options” from the menu and click “Manage search engines” to add the site your Chrome search engine list automatically.
  • Customize your Internet Explorer search engine list by clicking the “Find more search providers” hyperlink at the bottom of the “Search Providers” window to find and add search engines that are not in your list. This opens the Internet Explorer Gallery. Choose “Search” from the left sidebar. Scroll through the icons to find add-ons for search engines such as Facebook, Amazon and Lycos. Choose a search engine by clicking on its icon. Click the “Add to Internet Explorer” button, then click the “Add” button in the “Do you want to add this search provider?” confirmation box. Look for additional custom search engines, such as Ebay, by choosing “Shopping” or another category in the Internet Explorer Gallery sidebar.
  • Select the “Get more search engines” hyperlink at the bottom of Firefox’s “Manage Search Engines” dialog box to add search engines such as Twitter and Wolfram Alpha to Firefox. Sort the list by name or date to see the full list of Firefox search add-ons. Select the add-on of your choice and install it by clicking the “Add to Firefox” button. You might need to restart your browser before the search engine appears on your list.