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How to default to Search Companion with Windows Desktop Search 3


Much though I love the newly released Microsoft Office 2007, one thing bugged the hell out of me. To get search to work in Outlook (and search is handy if you want to find specific emails from 6 months ago with work you were supposed to have done by now) you need to install Windows Desktop Search 3. This is all well and good until you decide you want to search for files on your hard drive. You click ‘Search’ and this comes up:

Windows Desktop Search where I don't want it

Yep, it’s replaced the standard Windows search companion (and the friendly dog). That’s all well and good, except it’s an indexed search so doesn’t necessarily reflect what’s really on disk. And since by default my program files folder isn’t indexed, it never shows any results no matter what I search for – until I go in and change the settings then wait for it to get around to indexing the folders.

There’s a link at the bottom of the tab to use the trusty old search companion, but it means clicking it every time. Oh, and before you ask, no, there isn’t an option to disable this irritating integration in WDS! I hate it when software comes along and arrogantly replaces existing functionality with itself and gives no way to remove it. I only put the thing on so Outlook would be able to search emails, not to make me click more buttons to search for files!

Of course, you can in fact turn it off, as a little digging has turned up. Simply open RegEdit (hit Start > Run then type ‘regedit’). Go to the following node:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Microsoft/Windows Desktop Search/DS

Then double-click on ‘ShowStartSearchBand’ and set the value to ‘0’. Close that and you’re done, the next time you click ‘Search’ in explorer, the old, reliable search companion will appear. This applies to operating systems before Windows Vista, since Vista has far better search that actually works! (Okay, now someone will say it just uses WDS and I’m an idiot – wouldn’t be the first time).

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Creator of John's Background Switcher. Scotsman, footballer, photographer, dog owner, risk taker, heart breaker, nice guy. Some of those are lies.

459 Comments Join the Conversation

  1. Nope, no macs here, got a gaming desktop (macs are bad for this) and a laptop running vista (which I am very glad JBS works in)


  2. !!!PLEASE NOTE!!!
    There is no ‘ShowStartSearchBand’ until you open up search, the new windows search runs and you click on the option to use the old search companion.

    If you don’t click on the option to run the old search companion, there will be no ‘ShowStartSearchBand’.


  3. Hi,

    I took my computer in for repair, when it was returned to me Search Companion was replaced with Search (it does not state Windows Desktop Search, just Search). I tried following the steps listed above for making Search Companion my default, but Windows Desktop SearchDS does not exist under HKEY_CURRENT_USERSfotwareMicrosoft. I did have my search opened when I looked.

    Any guidance. I want Search Companion back.

    Thank you,



  4. Have you clicked the link from the search panel to use the classic search? If you’ve not done this then the registry key I mentioned won’t exist (as mentioned by Louie above).


  5. Louie states: There is no ‘ShowStartSearchBand’ until you open up search, the new windows search runs and you click on the option to use the old search companion.

    If you don’t click on the option to run the old search companion, there will be no ‘ShowStartSearchBand’.

    My search does not have an option to use the old search companion.

    You stated: “Have you clicked the link from the search panel to use the classic search?” Where is this link located? I cannot find it.

    I will be more than happy to send you a capture of my screen with my search displayed. I do not know how to send it to you through this form of communication.


  6. OH THANK YOU! It has been frustrating the SNOT out of me! I thought I was going to have a stroke trying to figure out how to KILL KILL KILL that infernal thing! -lol-


  7. Join to all thanks from above!!!
    Shame on MS technical support sites – there is nothing on this topic


  8. Awesome. The MS help site had an unconscionably difficult solution for this. You’d think it’d just be a switch in DS for people who like the little dog, but noooo.

    Thank you thank you!


  9. Cheers have been looking for a fix to this annoying feature and was about to unistall WDS. ๐Ÿ™‚


  10. Thanks I have irrational amounts of hatred for WDS and the creepily pervasive indexing service.


  11. Nice one – the new version of WDS doesn’t have the feature in the GUI to change this. It used to!!

    Thanks again


  12. Thanks tons. I lived with it for a while, but couldn’t take it any longer. There are too many times I need to search something that’s not indexed…


  13. Nice 1. Was looking everywhere for that.
    Those M$ gits.

    (And… I don’t think your an idiot no matter what anyone says)

    Cheers M8.


  14. Hey thanks! I avoided installing Desktop Search for as long as I could just because it takes over my WindowsKey+F searching that I do all the time. Now that I need to dig thru my emails quickly, I installed it and HAD to get rid of the clunky desktop search interface.

    Again, thanks!


  15. This worked on my XP machine but did not work on my server running server 2003…

    it still gives me the band..

    and makes me choose the option of using the search companion.


  16. Hmmmm, I’ve not tried it on Windows 2003 – I guess they must be doing something different. I’ll see if I can figure it out…


  17. Thanks for this, John. It’s been annoying me for a while, and I finally said, “Enough is enough!” Google sent me here first, and here my quest ended. I prefer the old search more. I actually don’t even use the indexing feature, since I rely on Google desktop, but sometimes that’s not enough. Cheers!


  18. i accidentally found and changed the same registry value, but under HKLM instead of HKCU โ€” maybe thatโ€™s a default setting for users who havenโ€™t done a search yet?

    anyway thanks for figuring this out โ€” what was bothering me most is that it would open a new window with the normal search after i had hit ctrl+f, scrolled down, and clicked the link for normal search. i donโ€™t need more windows open!


  19. Thank you very much for this tip. It got installed with Office 2007 on my system and I found the means to remove it just to have a Microsoft patch re-install it two months later.

    I hated having to click through the Desktop Search to get to the Search Companion. Now, with your recommended registry change, I have the Search Companion first and only.


  20. Yep – I re-iterate the thanks! This tip still shows up #1 on google, and that’s a great place for it.


  21. Thanks for the tip! I could not stand WDS. It’s good to have Search Companion back without having that extra click.


  22. Depending on your system setup (corporate licenses), the ShowStartSearchBand registry key may be here instead:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESoftwareMicrosoftWindows Desktop SearchDS

    To find the ShowStartSearchBand registry key quickly โ€“ just do a search in the registry (Edit > find) for ShowStartSearchBand.


  23. I don’t know why everybody hates the dog!

    Anyway, I just got office and this bugged me too. Thanks for the information.



  24. Just like everyone else… Thanks for the tip! Annoyance gone! ๐Ÿ™‚


  25. Big thnx for the tip. Freakin WDS is so irritating and of course, you can’t find anything with it..


  26. If the above mentioned key does not occour in the registry (probably when WDS is freshly installed) then add it yourself and it will do the trick.


  27. The best birthday present I’ve had so far today – discovering how to get rid of that pesky search (dis)facility which came with Office 2007. Long may the doggy live!



  28. (Very) Late comment, but I still want to thank you for the tip. I love WDS for its own reasons (quick document editing, and folder-limited searching) but still very much need Classic Search for its simplicity and all-encompassing filter. WDS is replaceable, CS is not.

    Now that CS is default and WDS is relegated to the taskbar, my life is back in order once again. Thanks! =)


  29. Thanks! This is a great time saver. I hate windows but that’s what my clients use…what else can I do???


  30. Thanks for this, the desktop search is really annoying – the folder you want to search is never one of the ones that’s indexed. Removing it is the best solution!


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