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March 20, 2009

Web Search Tips for Internet Explorer 8

Internet Explorer 8 has many useful features that improve the way you search and browse the web. If you like to search from the address bar, you can now get suggestions from the default search engine if you prefix your query with "? ". IE8 also shows previously visited pages that match the text you typed, but it only searches titles and URLs.

One of my favorite features is that the new version of Internet Explorer knows when you're using a search engine directly, without typing the query in IE's search box. The browser detects the query and displays in the built-in search box so you can easily find results using a different search engine.

Another interesting integration lets you find the matches of your query in a search result. After clicking on the result, go to the browser's search box and click on "Find" to see the exact matches and navigate to them.

If you open search results in separate tabs, IE uses distinct colors to visually group the related tabs. Right-clicking on a tab you'll find the option to ungroup the tab and to close the entire group.

Some of the search provides that are available in IE's add-on gallery offer enhanced suggestions. For example, Wikipedia lets you navigate directly to one of its pages, Yahoo and Live Search show instant answers for weather, while Amazon includes product images.

All of the search engines are accessible from the contextual menu so you can search for a text you select. They're added to the list of accelerators, which can include any web service that provides useful information about the selected text or the web page you visit: mapping addresses, translating text or bookmarking the page.

Unlike other browsers, Internet Explorer 8 encourages users to use multiple search engines and makes it easy to switch between them. Sometimes you can even obtain instant answers while you type a query or when you select an accelerator that supports previews.


  1. Two of the features that you mention—synchronization with the search bar and finding matches on the page—are provided by two Firefox extensions: SearchBox Sync and SearchWP, respectively.

  2. I never was a firefox fan. I'm glad Microsoft did such a great job with IE8. I'm still in the process of getting to know IE8 better, but up until now, i pretty much love it!

  3. ...I think these new "features" are stuff that Chrome already does much better and has for a while. What I'd like to see MS talk about in their release is stability and security.

    I already have native search from my browser address bar (and I don't include a leading ?). I have autocompletion that grows more accurate over time. I don't use the Google search page anymore (or allow squirrely search integration extensions for my browser,) because my address bar in Chrome does it all the time.

    The main thing is that my browser begins to dissolve completely and I'm concerned mostly with the actual content. I'm sick of browsers taking up 20% or more of my screen real estate with their "junk." Give me some tabs, a few buttons and get the rest of the thing out of my way, I'm here to browse, not to love up on the browser product.

    I'm just sayin'

  4. i'm holding off on IE8 for the moment, MS have a history of bad first releases riddled with bugs and security flaws, i'll be waiting for the first service pack

  5. some great new improvements here from MS

  6. I've yet to install it (downloaded it), might install it under sandbox to prevent it from overwriting IE7, so i can still test pages on it. (unless anyone else has better ideas?)

    I'm glad Microsoft have actually decided to take a step up to the other browsers.
    Some of the features sound quite interesting.
    I just wish they would improve standards support...

    Oh well, for now, i guess i will still use the JS library to "upgrade" the browser dynamically.

  7. The '?' search thingy has been in IE for sometime now, but accelerators is something to look for.

  8. It's funny... I configured every possible addon to google and allthough it still setted MS addons as standard. On the other half don't use GMail to test if the browser is faster, it's still crashing once in a while (e.g. freezed 3 times while typing one mail reply).

    I guess this post is just mentioned because of the google addons that are implemented right away. I'm not impressed of the new features of this release.

    like agentv commented, need of a lightweight browser that fits its need and doesn't fill the space with goofy functions.

    But it's a step forward for IE, I just don't think it'll increase the market.

  9. Safari 4 and Chrome are hella better. IE sucks.

  10. The new features are largely standard in other browsers now. I think browsers will start considering more of the functionality built into Ubiquity for Firefox.

  11. The numbers talk. IE rules. Who wants a browser that updates every other day> Who wants a browser that you have to configure with a dozen or so add ons just to be useable.Play with the toys, IE is the tool!

  12. Firefox has a version of Accelerators too, it is called "KALLOUT - Accelerators for Firefox" It's available as a free add-on through Firefox. See:

    Bundling Accelerators into IE8 makes a lot of sense. Selection-based search is really helpful. One GREAT feature of KallOut which you don't mention is BestGuess. The challenge with selection-based search is that the user has to figure out which one to apply to his selection. It’s a little clunky once you get more than two or three. KallOut does a super job figuring out which accelerator you need to use for a given selection-based search request. Kallout -- Accelerators for Firefox is actually kind of spooky when it works so well.

    Check it out! I agree that it's a big step forward for the user to have the selection-based search bundled into the browser by default, however.

    See KALLOUT - Accelerators for Firefox at

  13. chrome and firefox are the best.
    IE is too slow for me.

    great post :)

  14. This search box in IE8 is useless for me, I like the way you could open your search provider in a side panel in IE6, get the results therein and see the different web pages directly in the main window. As also other browsers don't have this option, I'll keep using IE6 as many others do, till a new add-on comes that makes this possible.

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