It is a common tactic of malware nowadays to disable certain helpful Windows functions that can help get rid of those malware. Some of the functions that are usually disabled are the Task Manager, the registry editor, Folder Options, show hidden files and folders, Run dialog from the start menu and the Search function of Windows. Today a friend of mine asked me that his Search option was missing from his Windows. I did a little research and found out that usually the malware is responsible for disabling the search function. Here are some ways to get back the missing Search option in Windows.

Method 1: Using the Group Policy Editor

To use the group policy editor, do the following:

Go to Start –> Run –> gpedit.msc

The group policy editor will open. Now go to the following key:

User Configuration –> Administrative templates –> Start Menu and Task Bar

In the right hand pane, select “Remove Search menu from Start menu”

Most probably it will be set to enabled. Just disable it once, click Apply and then select “Not Configured” and again click Apply. OK.

Usually the Search function is enabled instantaneously. If it is not enabled, go to Start –> Run –> cmd
and issue the following command:
C:\>gpupdate /force

This will force the settings to be applied instantaneously.

Method 2: Using the REG command

Sometimes it is better to add the registry through command line rather than going through all the manual processes of opening the registry editor, finding the correct key and changing it. So I am giving the command line solution to enabling the search function of Windows. To enable search function, just go to Start –> Run
and copy and paste the following command and press OK to proceed.

REG ADD “HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer” /v NoFind /t REG_DWORD /d 0

This will enable the search function in general (as this will enable the search option in HKEY_Local_Machine). If you are still experiencing problems, go to Start –> Run and copy and paste the following command which will enable the search function specifically for the current user:

REG ADD “HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer” /v NoFind /t REG_DWORD /d 0

Method 3: Using Automated Registry Script

If you are unsure of all of the methods above, I have created this script which will enable the search function automatically without the intervention of the user. Download the script below. When you run it, it will ask you whether to add the registry information. Please press Yes.

Automated Search Enabler (255 bytes, 3,090 hits)