Thursday, 26 November 2009

Delete Windows 7 Search History (And customise!)

A question just came up on SuperUser.com where a user asked the following:

Windows 7 - Make Windows Explorer Never Remember Search Terms


You know the handy search bar on the top right of Explorer. I find it irritating that it always remembers search terms. I feel like, people can easily intrude into my computer since they know what documents I'm searching for.

Is there any way to disable it?


So... I remember the search being the third tab within the re-done folder options dialog, however I could not see the ability to disable search or delete the history. I looked a bit further at some other options, but could not find it anywhere (Including a quick look in group policy).

I ran Microsoft/Sysinternals Process Monitor and found that the following location is where the search results are stored :

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\WordWheelQuery

So, to cut it short, you can delete any entry within this key without breaking anything - The entire key simply does not exist on a fresh Windows install. But, to disable search history entirely simply right click the key (In the left folder view) and click Permissions, Click add then type everyone and click ok. Click on the Deny box next to "Full Control", and you should see something like the following:

Simply Click ok and done! If you go to any Windows Explorer folder and click on search, there will not be ANY results from previous searches and more importantly, it won't remember anything you type in the future.

Whilst this is job done, I wanted to take this a step further and see if it is possible to add predefined search terms whilst preventing Windows from writing new entries - Long story short, I failed!

I understand how the entire registry key works, You simply add a new Binary value with a sequential number, write your search term and add a 00 in-between each letter followed by three 00's at the end. For example:


Lastly, I think for the last item - MRUListEx, you simply need to add followed by three 00's. For example, With three entries, MRUListEx looks like:

And with four, it looks like:

Anyway, I tried simply disabling the ability for everyone to write, however it seems to disable all history despite effective permissions confirming that there is still permission to read. I spent a good few minutes on this but I just have a lot of work to do today - This is something I want to revisit when I have more time to spare!


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