How to personalize the Search experience on Windows 8.1

Configuring preferences in Search on Windows 8.1

Perhaps, one of the most profound changes in Windows 8.1 is the new search experience powered by not other than Microsoft’s Bing search engine. I’ve been using Windows 8.1 for some time now and I have to say that Search has been improved tremendously. But by default the new experience had a deep integration with Bing and it uses geographical location to tailor web suggestions with a moderate option to filter content that isn’t appropriate.

Even though, these default settings are preferable, there will be users uncomfortable with them for privacy concerns or other reasons, so here is how to change the default preferences on Windows 8.1.

First, you need to get to the new Search settings page, use the Windows 8 Key +I keyboard shortcut, click or tap Change PC settings, and navigate to Search & apps. Here you’ll find several interesting options you can customize, such as:

Search history

The first option you’ll notice is Search history, and like in Windows 8, to clear any search terms stored in the PC, you only need to click Clear button (see the image below).

Use Bing to search online

By default getting results from Bing is enabled over regular internet access and metered connections. For those who feel uncomfortable sending search queries online or limiting internet connectivity is a must, these two options can be disabled here.

New Bing settings in Windows 8.1

Your search experience

In an effort to bring the best results possible, Microsoft by default uses your physical location, search history, and Microsoft account information. So if you want to change this particular setting, you can choose to stop Bing from using your location when doing a search in Windows 8.1, or you can also choose to not personalize the search experience at all.

Search experience setting on Windows 8.1


Finally we have search filters. In Windows 8.1 the prefered Bing search option is moderate, which filters inappropriate images and videos. You can change this option to not filter anything or if you have children around, there is also the Strict option to filter inappropriate images, videos, and text.

SafeSearch options in Windows 8.1

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 14 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].