No matter what you want to know, a Google search is probably a good place to start, although you may have to open more than just the first page in the search results. By default, both the list of search results and individual search results themselves open in the current tab; if that isn't happening and they're opening in a new tab instead, you or somebody else may have inadvertently altered a setting.

Search Results Page Behavior

If you've set Google as your default search engine in Internet Explorer and you're searching directly from the address bar, the search results page will always open in the currently active tab. If you have the Google toolbar installed and you're searching through that, however, this is not always the case, since the toolbar can be set to always open the search results page in a new tab. If this is happening to you, click the wrench icon on the toolbar to open the settings. Set the "Open Searches In" drop-down menu to Current Window and then click "Save."

Individual Search Results

To stop individual links from search results opening in a new tab, you need to adjust Google's search settings. Click the "Settings" link on the Google home page or the cog icon on a search results page and then select "Search Settings." Uncheck the option labeled "Open Each Selected Result in a New Browser Window" and then click "Save." On this page, you can also adjust other search settings, such as how many results you see per page and whether Google Instant is active or not.

Across Multiple Computers

Normally, changing Google's search settings will have an effect on only the computer you're using at the time, so you may still have the same issue on other computers. Sign into your Google account before making your changes, though, and the new settings will be saved to your account. From now on, as long as you're signed into that account, you won't have the issue again, not just in Internet Explorer but in any other browser. Just remember to sign out of your account when you're done if you're using a shared computer.

Opening Selected Links in a New Tab

If you want to open a particular search result in a new tab, you can still do that even if search results in general are set to open in the current tab by using the generic Internet Explorer keyboard shortcuts. Hold "Ctrl" while clicking the link to open the search result in a background tab; if you want to open it in a foreground tab instead, hold both "Ctrl" and "Shift" while clicking.