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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. This is one of those “Thank God for blogs” moments. This has been driving me crazy and you popped up in Google. Problem solved. You made my day. Thanks!


  2. THANK YOU! I have the exact same situation, want WDS to search my email but the desktop search wields nothing if the folder isn’t indexed or changes frequently.


  3. Thank you, John. I tried several “fixes” but yours was the one that worked, and quickly at that. I am so happy to have the doggie back. You’re terrific!


  4. Holy… I’ve been completely driven nuts by that one… Finally… I decided to search for a resolution… And, I found your website…

    GO JOHN GO!!!


  5. Thanks for the annoyance removal. I appreciate the website.

    -Darren the Dad


  6. Dear Author,

    Many thanks for the post! I installed WDS for exactly the same purpose (Outlook search). If it weren’t for you, i wouldn’t know how to get rid of this annoying thing with the rest of the search!



  7. THANK YOU!! I Loathe that indexed search, and turned it on out of curiosity… not realizing I wouldn’t be able to switch my default BACK to trusty old windows search…

    Thanks again!


  8. Thanks for this. I have searched for a way to do this but never found anything understandable. (I had looked for ways to customize the rt cl menu.)


  9. Thanks so much! I was looking everywhere to try to turn this dratted thing off! BTW, if you use the TweakUI powertoy by Microsoft, you can switch the XP search (Rover) to the classic search from Windows 2000 which I think is simpler and faster to use (but it lacks the file type filtering). In TweakUI, click “Explorer” and scroll down that list and check “Use Classic Search in Explorer”.


  10. Thanks for posting this info. I wanted to mention that it works in the preview for WDS 4 as well. Sometimes I wonder what Microsoft is thinking. WDS knows the location is not indexed yet it still appears. That’s just stupid.

    And if it HAS to globally replace search companion it should definately have a GUI option to disable it. Making people play with the registry to get back functionality your program removed is bad form. Seems to be a regular occurance for Microsoft software though…

    Also found this information at:


  11. Thanks for the help getting the old search companion back. I hate that desktop search thing.


  12. Thx, i had the exact same symptoms: Retain indexed search in Outlook, but want to search my files normally. With the certanty that i would get all my files and not just the ones in an outdated index.

    Thx man 🙂


  13. There is a logical reason for hating the dog.

    When you open search companion, it has its cute little animation of walking toward the screen before it sits down…. And that takes at least…… 2.2 seconds…

    Delay my search will you, dog! No longer!!


  14. Thank you! I’ve been trying to figure out how to remove Windows Search 4.0 and didn’t think of just disabling it. This worked like a charm.


  15. Thank you very much for your help. I carelessly installed Windows Desktop Search 4.0 (via Windows Update) today and was less than amused when my trusty old search was gone. That little edit solved things perfectly, though. Thanks again!


  16. This fix is alive and well. It is now an autoupdate, so I think you’ll be getting alot more miles and accolades on this one. Thanks (for the billionth time) 🙂


  17. Thank you, it worked and it removes lot of frustration… I have been going thru with this for long time… Thanks to Google too, to get here….


  18. A heads up. It being in the list of MS Updates, it got installed on one of our major file servers. All of a sudden over 4 gb of space was being chewed up on C:. It was still building the index files for the search. Removed search and deleted the cache file under the “all users” profile. Reboot is necessary. Be especially wary not to install it on large file systems.




  20. Bless you kind sir!!!! BLESS YOU!! I thought with Outlook 2007 I would be forced to live with that useless Desktop Search popping up everytime I wanted to use the little pup.

    BTW Adam on July 29th, 2008 at 14:45
    You can always disable the animation (just select “Change preferences”->”Without the animated screen character”). I turned it off once (reminded me of the paper clip) but I decided I liked Rover and wanted him back.


  21. THANKS!!! You are The Man! Needed this for some time and I guess I just figured out the right words to search to get your site.


  22. I had the same problem. Enabled desktop search because of Outlook 2007 and found myself having to click and open two screens to get to the companion file search–the only one that really works.
    Thank you for posting the solution!


  23. Thanks John! Great tip! I got vexed of clicking twice every time, to open the search companion.


  24. You solved it for me, thanks
    Run – Regedit
    HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindows Desktop SearchDS

    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.

    I didn’t need this next bit, as I’d been clicking on the Search Companion link with the little dog:

    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).


  25. Excellent! Thank you for the information, because that was bugging me also. I much prefer the old companion search.


  26. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I wish I had found this earlier.

    Im so glad to have the doggy back…!!!


  27. Seek and you shall find. Couldn’t close without saying thanks. It’s exactly what I was searching for.


  28. Like so many before me……. Thank you so very much.
    I really hated the new search, and I was used to the old one.
    So again, thank you !!!


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