How to banish those irritating pictures from your Windows search bar

Microsoft windows 11 logo with apps everywhere
(Image credit: Microsoft)

A new feature in Windows inserts an image in your search bar or search menu, and it's been driving me bonkers. The ongoing transition between Windows 10 and Windows 11 has seen features shared across both versions of the OS. One of them puts an image in the search bar in the lower-left of your screen.

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

I'm sure Leslie Knope would be thrilled by the news of such a day, but I hate having a fixed element of my desktop change appearance every so often. As I've been working away today, diligently trying to serve you the finest PC gaming news, my eye continued to be drawn-down to the image. So I got unreasonably frustrated, clicked around until I'd worked out how to get rid, then made a cup of tea: the feature may be annoying, but turning it off turns out to be a breeze.

I'm using Windows 10 and to turn off the feature here you need to:

  • Right-click the search bar.
  • Scroll up to the nested menu under 'Search'.
  • Untick the option called 'Show Search Highlights'.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Boom, no more jolly little 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'll find the 'Search Highlights' option, untick it.
Window shopping

Windows 11 Square logo

(Image credit: Microsoft)

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Job done: never again will Windows try to brighten up my day with colourful seasonal drawings, and that's how I like it.

The search bar pics are just one of many planned iterations of interactive content on the Windows 10/11 desktop, so expect more of this guff down the road. And it's not like it's 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 enough to turn off.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."