Tips for searching the Internet

The Internet contains a vast collection of information, but finding what you're looking for can be a challenge. Here are a few tips to help you search the web more effectively.

Use the search box

In the Internet Explorer search box, type a keyword or phrase and then press Enter (or press Alt+Enter to display the search results in a new tab).

Picture of the search box
Internet Explorer search box


  • Press Ctrl+E to go to the search box without using the mouse.

Use search suggestions

Some search providers offer search term suggestions as you type. When you add a new search provider, you can choose to use search suggestions if the provider offers them. For more information on how to turn search suggestions on or off, see Change or choose a search provider in Internet Explorer.

Use the Address bar

In the Internet Explorer Address bar, type Find, Go, or ? followed by a keyword, website name, or phrase, and then press Enter. If you want the search results to display in a new tab, press Alt+Enter after typing the phrase. The Address bar uses your default search provider. To change your default search provider or use search suggestions when you search with the Address bar, see Change or choose a search provider in Internet Explorer.

Use more than one search provider

If you don't find what you're looking for with a particular search provider, you can search using a different one. The Internet Explorer search box lets you add additional search providers and switch among them to improve your search results. You can quickly change which search provider to use on a search by clicking the provider's icon below the search box.

To learn how to use different search providers, install new search providers, or change the search provider that Internet Explorer uses by default, see Change or choose a search provider in Internet Explorer.

Search more efficiently

Here are a few ideas for improving the results of searches:

  • Use specific words rather than generic categories. For example, instead of searching for "dogs," search for a specific breed of dog.

  • Use quotation marks to search for specific phrases. Surrounding terms with quotation marks limits the search results to only those webpages that contain the exact phrase you've specified. Without the quotation marks, the results will include any page that contains the words you've used, regardless of what order those words are in.

  • Use the minus (-) sign before a keyword to tell search providers to exclude pages with that term. Using a minus sign will retrieve webpages that don't include the word. It's important not to include any spaces between the signs and the search terms (for example, -Bogart, not - Bogart).

  • Eliminate common words such as "a," "my," or "the," unless you're looking for a specific title. If the word is part of something you're looking for (a song title, for example), include the common word and surround the phrase with quotation marks.

  • Use synonyms or alternative search terms. Be creative or use a thesaurus for ideas. Type thesaurus in the search box to find an online thesaurus.

  • Search only a specific website or domain. To narrow the search to a specific site, type the search term you're looking for followed by site: and the address of the website you want to search. For example, to search the Microsoft website for information about viruses, type virus site:www.microsoft.com (with no spaces between site: and the URL).

  • Use a specialty search engine or provider, such as MSN Image search, to look for pictures. Many websites offer their own special searches for anything from shopping to hobbies. Internet Explorer can detect specialty search providers on some websites, which you can add to your list of search providers.

Find words or phrases on a webpage

Internet Explorer can help you find a specific word or phrase on a webpage. Here's how:

To find a word or phrase on a webpage in Internet Explorer 8

  1. Press Ctrl+F to open the Find box below the tab row.

  2. Type a word or phrase, and then press Enter to locate the first match.

  3. Click the Highlight All Matches button to show or hide all matches on the page.

  4. To filter the matches, click Options, and then click one or both of the following:

    • Match Whole Word Only

    • Match Case

  5. Click Next or Previous to move from one matched word or phrase to another.

Picture of the Find box
Internet Explorer8 Find box

To find a word or phrase on a webpage in Internet Explorer 7

  1. Press Ctrl+F to open the Find dialog box.

  2. Type a word or phrase in the Find box, and then press Enter to locate the first match on the page.

  3. To filter the matches, select or clear the Match whole word only or Match case check boxes.

  4. Click Next or Previous to move from one matched word or phrase to another.

For more ways to find webpages using Internet Explorer, see Find recently visited webpages.

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