Microsoft Testing New MacOS Spotlight-like Search UI for Windows 10

Microsoft is testing a major redesign of Cortana/search in Windows 10. The company quietly added a secret feature to the operating system with the release of Windows 10 Redstone 4 build 17040.

The new immersive search UI is a lot like macOS’ Spotlight which is arguably one of the best features of Apple’s Mac devices. The new search UI for Windows 10 is very similar to Apple’s implementation, and it’s accessible via the Win + S shortcut, reports Italian blog, Aggiornamenti Lumia.

The feature opens a search dialog in the middle of your screen, and you can search for files, pictures, settings, apps on your device from there. As the feature is powered by Cortana search, it also lets you search the web via Bing which means you can hunt for websites, pictures, and videos online as well. You can also trigger Cortana commands from within the new immersive search experience, but that opens up the classic Cortana UI on the taskbar.

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Microsoft’s Spotlight clone seems quite promising at this point in time. The feature is almost exactly like Cortana search in Windows 10 right now, but the new design makes searching for things much easier and more intuitive. It doesn’t do much more than Cortana right now, so it’ll be interesting to see whether Microsoft expands its capabilities over time. The company is still in the early stages of development for Windows 10 Redstone 4, which is set to be released early next year. Windows Insiders can, however, try this feature out right away with a simple registry edit on the latest Redstone 4 build:

  • Open “regedit” via Run (Win + R)
  • Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Search\Flighting
  • Create a new “Override” value on the Flighting folder from the sidebar
  • On the new Override value, create a new DWORD with the name ImmersiveSearch and set the value to 1
  • Restart your device to get the new immersive search experience, available with Win + S

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Conversation 43 comments

  • Brad Sams

    Premium Member
    21 November, 2017 - 8:20 am

    <p>I like this a lot….one of the few things i miss from OS X was spotlight search.</p>

    • rfog

      21 November, 2017 - 9:33 am

      <blockquote><a href="#218996"><em>In reply to brad-sams:</em></a></blockquote><p>Brad, you don't miss OS X spotlight, what you miss is the way macOS finds things against the Microsoft way: searches but does not find.</p><p><br></p><p>(Sorry)</p>

  • dallasnorth40

    Premium Member
    21 November, 2017 - 8:21 am


  • dcdevito

    21 November, 2017 - 8:35 am

    <p>Didn't they have something like this in XP or Vista? I vaguely remember searching for stuff and opening the links in IE. I'm sure it wasn't nearly as powerful.</p>

    • rfog

      21 November, 2017 - 9:27 am

      <blockquote><a href="#219000"><em>In reply to dcdevito:</em></a></blockquote><p>I don't remember the exact name, despite the fact I was in the beta in my MVP old times, but was more or less in the wars for the search engines. All companies (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, …) had their own desktop search engine, each of them worse than the other, using a lot of CPU and dramatically slowing the PC.</p>

  • maethorechannen

    Premium Member
    21 November, 2017 - 8:49 am

    <p><em style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">You can also trigger Cortana commands from within the new immersive search experience, but that opens up the classic Cortana UI on the taskbar.</em></p><p><br></p><p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">I know it's early days, but pick one or the other.</span></p><p><br></p><p>If anything, putting all the Cortana stuff into a floating app window would make more sense than what Cortana does now,</p>

    • wunderbar

      Premium Member
      21 November, 2017 - 9:48 am

      <blockquote><a href="#219013"><em>In reply to maethorechannen:</em></a></blockquote><p>yes, lets criticize a feature that's not actually turned on for fast ring users without a regedit, so is obviously not even close to done.</p>

      • maethorechannen

        Premium Member
        21 November, 2017 - 9:53 am

        <blockquote><a href="#219032"><em>In reply to wunderbar:</em></a></blockquote><p><em>so is obviously not even close to done.</em></p><p><br></p><p>That's why I put "I know it's early days". Though as Windows 10 is known for having schizophrenic UX (like Settings vs Control Panel), putting out a half baked feature is still a concern,</p>

  • Roncerr

    21 November, 2017 - 9:07 am

    <p>What does it do that the non-web explorer-only search does now? I have never used an Apple device.</p>

    • rfog

      21 November, 2017 - 9:25 am

      <blockquote><a href="#219015"><em>In reply to Roncerr:</em></a></blockquote><p>As far as I know, nothing. This is the Nth time Microsoft tries to reinvent the wheel. The same wheel.</p><p><br></p><p>BTW, macOS had Spotlight more or less since first incarnations, and worked always very well, and is a reference for search engines. And at this moment (Fall Creators Update vs macOS 10.13), Spotlight is still better than star menu search box, and less confusing. </p>

  • tremblaymax

    21 November, 2017 - 9:07 am

    <p>I see this just as a redesign of existing search in Cortana, however I do agree that it looks much better like this. Hope this will end well in final release. </p>

  • BizTechSherpa

    21 November, 2017 - 9:12 am

    <p>I miss the Search capability in Windows 7 + Office 2010 days – I did a Windows search and it brought up documents, emails, contact records, calendar events in the search results. Typing a name brought that contact to the top of the results, fastest way to find a phone #, confirm a company name, etc. And I have so much useful data in email. Now I have to go into Outlook, go into email, and search there. Then contacts, then documents in Cortana search, etc. Lousy experience. </p>

  • Darekmeridian

    21 November, 2017 - 9:31 am

    <p>I have been using Wox ( for about a year now it's theme-able and extensible (via python) so you can search web or use it as a launcher, But it would be much cleaner with this built into the OS with Cortana support.</p><p><br></p><p>YAY!</p><p><br></p>

  • nbplopes

    21 November, 2017 - 10:12 am

    <p>2018 and MS is still walking circles with this for years and years 🙁 </p><p><br></p><p>Maybe now with Hadoop they can sort this one out on Windows :)</p>

    • Waethorn

      21 November, 2017 - 11:00 am

      <blockquote><a href="#219038"><em>In reply to nbplopes:</em></a></blockquote><p>And Big Data, and AI, and Deep Learning, and all kinds of other fake stuff that sounds good to young tech investors with lots of R&amp;D capital burning a hole in their pocket.</p>

      • nbplopes

        21 November, 2017 - 1:22 pm

        <blockquote><a href="#219046"><em>In reply to Waethorn:</em></a></blockquote><p><br></p><p>Yeah. There is a huge disconnect between what all the big 4 companies (except one) are saying in their conferences and the my actual user experience in the field as a user. Usually end up being little relatively predictable curiosities (if than else's logic).</p><p><br></p><p>I wonder any company that cannot solve basic search problems in peoples's laptop across multiple local data sources including their own can really do a much reliable approach to AI. </p><p><br></p><p>I just wonder.</p><p><br></p><p>Its starting to be embarrassing … But who cares, there will be another huge party soon, some other announcement probably …</p>

  • Waethorn

    21 November, 2017 - 10:59 am

    <p>Methinks someone at Redmond re-watched the Longhorn archival footage.</p>

  • Win74ever

    21 November, 2017 - 12:06 pm

    <p>Cortana is useless. Search on Windows 10 is useless. This bar looks like Aero Glass. Windows 10 UI remains clueless.</p>

    • huddie

      Premium Member
      21 November, 2017 - 3:06 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#219085"><em>In reply to Win74ever:</em></a></blockquote><p>Why are you even here? What is wrong with you people? Back to 2009 with you!</p>

      • Win74ever

        21 November, 2017 - 4:01 pm

        <blockquote><a href="#219216"><em>In reply to huddie:</em></a></blockquote><p><br></p><p>You're right. I'm wasting my time here since Windows 10 won't ever be a thing and by 2020 Windows 7 will remain unbothered with most market share.</p>

        • feedtheshark

          21 November, 2017 - 7:05 pm

          <blockquote><a href="#219220"><em>In reply to Win74ever:</em></a></blockquote><p>Move on already.</p><p>I don't normally comment here, but I felt you deserved being pointed out for being stupid.</p>

          • Win74ever

            23 November, 2017 - 11:37 am

            <blockquote><a href="#219275"><em>In reply to feedtheshark:</em></a></blockquote><p><br></p><p>I won't move on. Windows has been trash since Windows 8. Windows 10 is literally taking control over your machine build by build. I think you're the stupid one.</p>

            • jimchamplin

              Premium Member
              03 February, 2018 - 9:18 pm

              <blockquote><a href="#220144"><em>In reply to Win74ever:</em></a></blockquote><p>Yeah, well that’s just your <em>opinion.</em></p>

            • jimchamplin

              Premium Member
              03 February, 2018 - 9:19 pm

              <blockquote><a href="#220144"><em>In reply to Win74ever:</em></a></blockquote><p>Yeah? That’s <em>your</em> opinion. </p>

    • zankfrappa

      22 November, 2017 - 5:02 am

      <blockquote><a href="#219085"><em>In reply to Win74ever:</em></a></blockquote><p>its actually not too bad these days. ive stopped using all other launchers (launchy, wox etc) because windows search is good enough. still plenty of room for improvement though </p>

  • colin79666

    Premium Member
    21 November, 2017 - 2:02 pm

    <p>So Microsoft are Sherlocking Launchy ( I do hope they let you map it to CTRL+Space.</p>

  • fredrick

    21 November, 2017 - 2:49 pm

    <p>Who cares, it’s still windows</p>

  • straker135

    Premium Member
    21 November, 2017 - 5:22 pm

    <p>Tried this on my 17040 Build and nada. Still get the same old 'Start' search pane in the bottom left-hand corner.</p>

  • SvenJ

    Premium Member
    21 November, 2017 - 8:44 pm

    <p>Seems like Cortana search in an 'acrylic' window that covers a different part of my screen than it does now. So?</p>

  • Matthew Simpson

    22 November, 2017 - 12:15 am

    <p>Wow… as much as I hate to throw off the whole "discussion" by injecting some relevant content… You don't actually have to restart Windows after making the registry change. Killing explorer.exe and running it again will do the trick. I like the the feature so far…</p><p><br></p><p>But for those of you that don't like the way Windows search works, please feel free to buy a Mac, or install Linux… and may God have mercy upon your souls.</p>

  • Luis Sohal

    22 November, 2017 - 6:14 am

    <p>For #HotmailpasswordResetOrRecovery Call on &amp;&amp;**866).(877).(9859)__++</p><p>#Outlook Support Number</p><p>#Micrsosoft Support Number</p><p>#Outlook Password&nbsp;</p><p>#OutlookSupport&nbsp;</p><p>#HotmailPasswordRecovery</p><p>#OutlookandMicrosoft Support Phone Number</p><p>Call ***866).(877).(9859&gt;&gt;&gt;</p><p><br></p>

  • CristianCson

    22 November, 2017 - 5:35 pm

    <p>I haven't used the mac function, but it would have been nice if the article says more about how it is more like it? </p><p><br></p><p>Because the only change I see is that it is in a separate window instead in the taskbar, two changes in the ui that I can see, search box on top and text tabs instead of icons.. Not a big change from todays cortana experience..</p>

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