In this post, I will show you multiple ways to disable search highlights on Windows 11. Windows 11 now shows the highlights in the search, and you can turn off this feature if you don’t need it via different methods.
“Search Highlights” is a feature in Windows 11 that is meant to help people find more information and the content that goes with it. When you click Search, the search highlights present noteworthy, informative, and interesting information about what’s special about each day. This includes holidays, anniversaries, popular search terms, and other times around the world and in your area.
According to Microsoft, the search highlights feature is a productivity enhancement for Windows users and hence this feature is also available on Windows 10 along with Windows 11. Microsoft first announced the search highlights feature in Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 22572.
Some users prefer to keep the search panel on Windows 11 plain and simple. You can turn off the search highlights in Windows 11 if you don’t want to see them when you search. Once disabled, the space will include a section showing search suggestions and your top apps.
Also Read: How to disable Bing Searches in Windows 11
The below screenshot illustrates how the search highlights look on Windows 11. When a user clicks on Search, the search highlights feature appears, displaying the Recent Apps on the left pane, and in the right pane, we see information about holidays, anniversaries, popular search terms, and other times around the world and in your area.
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What happens when you disable the Search Highlights on Windows 11?
After you turn off the Windows search highlights, the search window will include a section showing search suggestions and your recent apps. The below screenshot shows how the search appears on Windows 11 after you have disabled the search highlights. The recent apps are shown on the left, while on the right, you see quick searches and top apps.
Methods to Disable Windows 11 Search Highlights
There are multiple methods to disable search highlights on Windows 11. Listed below are some of the methods that we will go through in this article.
- Turn off the search highlights feature from Windows 11 Settings
- Disable Windows 11 search highlights via Search Settings
- Use a GPO to turn off the Search Highlights feature (applies to both Windows 10 and Windows 11)
- Turn off Search highlights using Microsoft Intune (Endpoint Manager)
- Use PowerShell to disable search highlights on Windows 11.
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Method 1: Turn off Search Highlights from Windows 11 Settings
The easiest way to turn off the search highlights feature is from Windows 11 settings. Open Settings on Windows 11. Click on Privacy & security. Under the “Windows permissions” section, click the “Search permissions” setting. Under the “More settings” section, turn off the “Show Search highlights” toggle switch.
Method 2: Disable Windows 11 Search Highlights via Search Settings
The quickest way to disable the search highlights in Windows 11 is from the search settings. On the Windows Taskbar, click the Search option. On the Search window, click the three horizontal dots and select Search Settings.
This will open the Settings > Privacy and Security > Search Permissions. Under the “More settings” section, toggle the “Show Search highlights” switch to Off. You won’t see the search highlight anymore in the Windows 11 search window now.
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Method 3: Use Group Policy to turn off the Search Highlights feature
When you want to disable the search highlights on multiple Windows 11 computers, GPO is the best option. All your Windows 11 computers should be part of the Activate Directory domain if you want to deploy a group policy.
When you deploy a new group policy, you either do it at the domain level or at the organizational unit level. I suggest making a new group policy object, linking it to a test OU with the pilot computers, and then deploying it to a larger group of computers.
Note: To access the policy for search highlights (on a device that has installed the March 2022 Cumulative Update Preview or April 2022 monthly quality update), navigate to C:\Windows\PolicyDefinitions and locate Search.admx. Make sure you download the updated version of the Administrative Templates (.admx) and Group Policy Settings Reference for Windows 10, version 20H2 from the Microsoft Download Center.
To create a GPO, you can either log in to a domain controller or a member server installed with GPMC. You can also install the GPMC on Windows 11 and configure the group policies. Launch the Server Manager from the Start menu and click Tools > Group Policy Management console. In the Group Policy Management console, expand the domain, right-click Group Policy Objects or an OU, and select New.
Enter the name for the new group policy. For example, you can specify the GPO name as “Turn off the Search Highlights feature” and click OK. The new GPO is created and is visible under the list of Group Policy Objects in the console.
In the Group Policy Management Editor, navigate to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Search > Allow search highlights. Edit the “Allow Search Highlights” policy setting.
From the policy description, we see that disabling this setting turns off search highlights in the start menu search box and in search home. Disable the “Allow Search Highlights” policy setting by choosing the option “Disabled” and clicking “Apply” and “OK.”
After the group policy object is configured, you need to link the GPO to an OU if you haven’t already. You can also link it to the domain, but doing so will make the GPO applicable to every computer in the domain, so it is not advised. The best approach is to choose a test OU, connect your GPO, and test the policy settings.
It’s time to update the group policy on the client computers and check to see if search highlights are disabled. You can use multiple ways to perform the group policy update on remote computers. On a test client machine, you can manually perform the group policy update by running the gpupdate /force command.
Method 4: Use PowerShell to Disable Search Highlights in Windows 11
You can use the following PowerShell script to disable the search highlights on Windows 11. For environments without Active Directory or Azure Active Directory, you can deploy this PowerShell script that introduces changes to the registry and disables search highlights.
New-Item "HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Windows Search" -Force New-ItemProperty "HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Windows Search" -Name "EnableDynamicContentInWSB" -PropertyType DWORD -Value 0
Method 5: Disable Search Highlights using Microsoft Intune
According to Microsoft, the policy configuration options to disable search highlights are available in Intune. During my findings, I noticed that neither the settings catalog policy nor the Administrative Templates have the option to disable search highlights for Windows 11.
I will be contacting the Intune support team to check the availability of turning off the search highlights feature for Windows 11. This space will be updated once I get the response from the team.
How to enable Search Highlights on Windows 11
In case you want to enable Windows search highlights, you can use these steps:
- Click Start and launch the Settings.
- Click on Privacy & security.
- Under the “Windows permissions” section, click the “Search permissions” setting.
- Under the “More settings” section, turn on the “Show Search highlights” toggle switch.