Disable Windows image in search bar

A new Windows feature inserts an image into the search bar or search menu and it’s driving me crazy. The ongoing transition between Windows 10 and Windows 11 has seen shared features across both versions of the operating system. One of them places an image in the search bar in the lower left corner of the screen.

The trick is that this image will reflect something that is happening in the world: so today is apparently European parks day, and we have a doodle of a speedboat in the water.

I’m sure Leslie Knope would be thrilled to hear the news of a day like this, but I hate having a fixed element of my desktop change its appearance every now and then. As I’ve been working today, diligently trying to serve you the best PC gaming news, my eyes have remained on the image. So I got irrationally frustrated, clicked through until I figured out how to get rid of it, then I made myself a cup of tea: the feature can be annoying, but turning it off turns out to be a breeze.

I’m using Windows 10 and to disable the feature here you need:

  • Right-click on the search bar.
  • Scroll down to the menu nested under ‘Search’.
  • Uncheck the option called ‘Show Search Highlights’.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Boom, enough with the happy drawings.

If you’re on Windows 11, here’s what you need to do:

  • Go to the settings app.
  • Select ‘Privacy & Security’, then ‘Search Permissions’, then ‘More Settings’
  • Here you will find the option ‘Search Highlights’, uncheck it.

Job done: Never again will Windows try to brighten my day with colorful seasonal designs, and that’s just how I like it.

Search bar images are just one of many planned iterations of interactive content on the Windows 10/11 desktop, so expect more of this prank in the future. And it’s not all bad: some new features are great, like HDR sliders. A default search box widget powered by Bing and shown in Microsoft Edge? Maybe not.

To be fair to Microsoft, at least they’re all easy to disable.

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