Outlook Search Not Working – [How To Fix It?]

Last Updated on July 19, 2023 by Amit Bansal

In today’s fast-paced world, staying on top of our email correspondence is essential, and Microsoft Outlook has long been a trusted companion in managing our digital communication.

With its powerful features and intuitive interface, Outlook provides a seamless experience for handling emails, contacts, and appointments.

However, encountering issues with the search function can quickly turn our efficient email management into a frustrating experience.

Picture this: you’re in the midst of a busy workday, trying to locate a crucial email or attachment, but Outlook’s search feature seems to have lost its way.

Whether the search results are incomplete, non-responsive, or simply not displaying any results at all, it can be immensely disruptive and hinder your productivity. But fear not, for help is at hand.

In this comprehensive blog post, we will delve into the common reasons why Outlook’s search may fail to function properly and provide you with practical troubleshooting steps to resolve the issue.

Understanding Outlook Search

Outlook search is a powerful feature in Microsoft Outlook that allows us to find specific emails, contacts, or other items quickly.

It is designed to help manage our inbox efficiently and save time when we need to access important information.

In Microsoft Outlook, the search functionality works by indexing the content of our emails, calendar events, contacts, and tasks.

The indexing process runs in the background, ensuring that our search results are up-to-date and accurate.

There are instances when Outlook search may not function as expected, leaving us unable to find certain items within our Outlook profile.

This can be due to various reasons, including issues with the indexing process, outdated software, or incorrect settings.

One of the first steps we can take when encountering issues with Outlook search is to check if Microsoft Office is updated.

Outdated versions of Office could cause search functionality to malfunction. To update Microsoft Office, simply open Outlook and check for updates.

If the problem persists, we can look into our indexing settings and ensure that the right locations are being indexed. This can be done by checking the Indexed Locations and configuring the Indexing Options accordingly.

Rebuilding the Outlook index can also help resolve search issues, as it re-indexes all content within our profile.

However, this process may take some time to complete, depending on the amount of data in our mailbox.

When using the Outlook search feature, it is essential to remember that the results may vary based on the filters and search criteria we apply.

By refining our search terms and using additional filters, we can increase the accuracy of our search results and find the information we need faster.

In conclusion, understanding how Outlook search works and knowing the common issues that may arise can help us troubleshoot any search-related problems we may encounter.

By following these steps and maintaining a well-organized and updated inbox, we can ensure that our Outlook search experience remains smooth and efficient.

Causes of Outlook Search Not Working

There are several factors that can cause Outlook search to malfunction or display no results.

In this section, we’ll cover some of the most common causes and their possible effects on the search index and search results.

One common cause for Outlook search not working is an outdated version of Microsoft Office.

Updating your Office suite to the latest version can resolve many search-related issues.

In some cases, a recent Windows 10 update, such as Update KB5008212, may unintentionally break Outlook Search for users, which can be resolved by rolling back to a previous version or waiting for a patch from Microsoft.

Another possible reason is a problem with the search index itself. If Outlook isn’t being indexed properly, it might lead to incomplete or no search results.

To resolve this issue, you can rebuild the Outlook index or double-check your Outlook index settings to ensure that all the necessary folders and items are being indexed.

In some cases, a local Group Policy setting might prevent proper indexing, which can be adjusted to allow better search functionality.

Issues with the .pst files, such as corruption, can also affect Outlook search results. To fix this, you can repair your PST files using the inbuilt repair tool or a third-party application.

Sometimes, the problem might stem from the search settings themselves, such as not including certain folders in the search scope or not searching deleted items. You can modify these settings according to your needs to improve search results.

In summary, several factors can cause Outlook search to not work properly, such as outdated software, problems with the search index or PST files, or incorrect search settings.

By addressing these causes and ensuring proper indexing and settings, you can improve the search results and overall functionality in Outlook.

Setting adjustments for search result

By default, Outlook searches emails from the “current folder“, which is normal, while searching somehow the required email is available in another folder like delete, which results in inaccuracy, the question raised is that Outlook search not working.

Here few setting adjustments are required to get accurate results.

  • Go to Microsoft Outlook.
  • Click the File tab from the left-hand corner of the screen >> Options
  • Now click on search from the left-hand navigation pane
Setting adjustment for search result

Now can modify some of the options:

  1. Can select All mailbox
  2. Click on the check box “Include messages from the Deleted Items folder in each data file when searching in All items”.
  3. You can change the color of selected highlighted emails.
  • Finally, Click Ok

Fixes and Troubleshooting Steps

Quick Repair

Quick repair is the process of reinstalling the setup with the default setting, once you run to repair the system checks out the discrepancies and fixes the unresponsive Outlook search function.

The process repair Outlook 2019, 2016, 2013, & 2010 in Windows 10

  • Close all your opened files.
  • Click on the start button from the bottom left corner of the screen.
  • Type Apps & Features into the Windows search box.
  • Select Apps & Features and click Open.
Apps & Features Window 10
  • Find and click on Microsoft Office in the list of installed apps and features.
Quick repair Office
  • Click Modify, and you get two options “Quick Repair” or “Online Repair“.
  • Select “Quick Repair” and hit Repair.
  • Once the repair process is completed, restart Outlook.

Rebuilding Search Index

If Outlook search is not working, one solution we recommend is rebuilding the search index. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Control Panel and click on Indexing Options.
Indexing options
  1. Click on the Advanced button, and then go to the Index Settings tab.
Indexing options dialog box
  1. Under Troubleshooting, click on the Rebuild button.
troubleshooting indexing

Keep in mind that rebuilding the index might take a while, depending on the number of items being indexed.

Checking and Modifying Indexing Options

Another approach to fix the issue is to check and modify the indexing settings. Here’s how:

  1. Go to Indexing Options in the Control Panel.
  2. In the Indexing Options window, click on the Modify button.
  3. Ensure that the locations containing your Outlook data files (OST and PST) are included in the indexing locations. If not, add them.

Also, it’s a good idea to review the Outlook Search and Indexing settings:

  1. In Outlook, click on File > Options > Search.
  2. Under Indexing Options, click on the Indexing Options button to open the Indexing Options window and make any necessary adjustments.

Updating Microsoft Outlook

Regardless if you’re using Outlook 2016 or Microsoft 365, keeping your software up-to-date is crucial for preventing search issues. To update Microsoft Outlook:

  1. Open Outlook and click on File > Office Account (or Account for Outlook 2016).
  2. Under Product Information, click on Update Options and select Update Now.

Make sure to close and restart Outlook after updates are installed.

Search and Indexing Settings

Finally, we suggest verifying the Search and Indexing settings within Windows 10 and the Registry Editor. To check the Windows 10 settings:

  1. Open Settings > Search > Searching Windows.
  2. Ensure the indexing status reports that indexing is complete.

To check and modify the registry settings:

  1. Press Win + R to open the Run dialog, type “regedit,” and press Enter.
  1. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows Search.
  2. Check and modify the relevant registry entries, such as enabling the Windows Search service.

Remember to back up your registry before making changes and exercise caution, as incorrect changes can lead to system instability or other issues.

By following these troubleshooting steps, we hope to alleviate most problems related to Outlook search not working and improve your experience with Microsoft Outlook.

Performance and Optimization

Managing Data Files

When using Outlook, it is essential to manage data files efficiently to enhance the application’s performance, especially when dealing with search functionality.

We should regularly check our POP and IMAP accounts to ensure that offline data files (such as .pst and .ost) are kept organized.

To manage data files effectively, we can follow these steps:

  1. Open Outlook and click File > Info > Account Settings > Account Settings.
  2. Click the Data Files tab, and review the list of accounts and their associated files.
  3. Remove any unnecessary or duplicate data files by selecting the file and clicking Remove.
  4. Compact storage space by selecting the data file and clicking Settings > Compact Now.

Managing data files helps to reduce the messaging and search latency in Microsoft 365, Exchange, and offline environments.

Search Scope Adjustment

Adjusting the search scope in Outlook can lead to faster, more efficient results.

By narrowing down the search parameters, we can significantly improve the speed and accuracy of the search.

Here are some tips for adjusting the search scope:

  • Use built-in search filters like AllUnread, and Flagged.
  • Limit the search to specific folders like InboxSent Items, or custom folders.
  • Use advanced search options, such as date range, attachment options, and sender/recipient filters.

Search Performance Improvement

To further improve search performance in Outlook, we can optimize indexing options and rebuild the search catalog. According to Microsoft Support, this can be done by following these steps:

  1. Click Start, type Indexing Options in the search box, and then click the Indexing Options result.
  2. Click Modify, ensure that the checkbox for Microsoft Outlook is selected, and then click OK.
  3. Click Advanced, and then click Rebuild.

Rebuilding the search catalog may take some time, but it can significantly improve search performance in Outlook.

By following these guidelines and regularly updating our practices, we can optimize Outlook search performance and make our messaging experience more efficient and enjoyable.

Technical Solutions and Workarounds

We understand that experiencing issues with Outlook Search not working can be frustrating, but don’t worry – we will provide some technical solutions and workarounds to help resolve the problem.

In this section, we will cover Registry and Group Policy Changes, Windows Desktop Search Configuration, and Outlook Repair Tools.

Registry and Group Policy Changes

One solution to this problem could involve making changes to the registry or using the Local Group Policy Editor.

It is important to back up your registry before making any changes, as incorrect modifications can cause significant issues.

If you are not comfortable with making these changes yourself, please consult an IT professional.

  • Open the Local Group Policy Editor by pressing Win + R to open the Run dialog box, typing gpedit.msc, and pressing Enter.
  • Navigate to User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Search.
  • Locate the setting called Prevent Indexing Microsoft Office Outlook and set it to Disabled.
  • Save the changes and close the Local Group Policy Editor.

In some cases, you might also need to modify a registry key to enable the Windows Search service:

  • Open the Registry Editor by pressing Win + R, typing regedit, and pressing Enter.
  • Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Windows Search.
  • If the Windows Search key does not exist, you can create it by right-clicking the Windows key, selecting New > Key, and naming it Windows Search.
  • Create a DWORD (32-bit) Value named AllowCortana, and set its value data to 1.
  • Close the Registry Editor and reboot your computer for the changes to take effect.

Windows Desktop Search Configuration

Configuring Windows Desktop Search can help resolve Outlook Search performance and functionality issues:

  • Ensure that the Windows Search Troubleshooter has been run to diagnose and fix any problems.
  • Verify that the Windows Search service is enabled and running. Press Win + R, type services.msc, and press Enter. Locate the Windows Search service, and ensure its startup type is set to Automatic.
  • Include Outlook data in the indexing process by going to Indexing Options > Modify and selecting your Outlook data files.

Outlook Repair Tools

If the issue persists, you can try using Outlook Repair Tools to fix corrupted PST files or other Outlook-related problems:

  • Run the built-in Inbox Repair Tool (ScanPST.exe) to repair corrupted PST files. Locate the tool in your Office installation folder (usually in C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\OfficeXX), run it, and follow the on-screen instructions.
  • If the problem still persists, consider creating a new Outlook profile to replace the current one. This can be done under the Mail applet in the Control Panel by selecting Show Profiles and then Add.

Following these technical solutions and workarounds should help you resolve any issues with Outlook Search not working.

Remember to always back up your system and necessary files before making any changes, and consult an IT professional if you are unsure about any steps.

Outlook Versions and Compatibility

With numerous Outlook versions in use, it’s crucial to understand their compatibility and potential issues that users might face, particularly when it comes to search functionality.

In this section, we will provide an overview of some commonly-used Outlook versions, including Outlook 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, and 2019.

Outlook 2007 has long reached its end of support, meaning that Microsoft no longer provides updates, including security patches, for this version.

Consequently, users of Outlook 2007 might experience various issues, including those related to search functionality.

We strongly recommend upgrading to a newer version of Outlook to ensure more reliable performance and continued support from Microsoft.

Outlook 2010 and 2013 are still supported, but they may have some compatibility challenges, especially when connecting to newer Microsoft 365 services.

To prevent search-related issues in these versions, we advise verifying that the Windows Search service is running and your Outlook data files are included in the indexing.

Rebuilding the search catalog may also be helpful for fixing search issues.

Outlook 2016 and 2019 are more recent versions and generally have fewer compatibility problems. Nonetheless, search issues might still occur in specific scenarios, such as after a Windows update or upgrading to Windows 11.

Users experiencing search problems in these versions should follow similar troubleshooting steps, including running the Windows Search troubleshooter, ensuring data files are indexed, and rebuilding the search catalog if necessary.

In some cases, creating a new Outlook profile and setting it as the default can resolve search issues across all mentioned versions.

Additionally, using filters to narrow your search and show older email messages can improve search performance.

Keep in mind that as of November 1, 2021, there are minimum versions of Outlook required to connect to Microsoft 365 services, such as Exchange Online.

We encourage users to stay updated with the latest Outlook versions to maintain compatibility with evolving Microsoft services and to minimize search-related problems.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why aren’t Outlook search results showing up?

There could be several reasons for this issue. It might be due to incomplete indexing, issues with the Windows Search Service, or problems with your Outlook profile.

Additionally, if you have recently installed a Windows update or upgraded to Windows 11, the search functionality might be affected for users with POP, IMAP, and offline Exchange accounts as per this Microsoft Support article.

How to fix Outlook indexing issues?

To fix Outlook indexing issues, you can try rebuilding the Outlook index, as suggested by this Help Desk Geek article.

Verify if the indexing options are correctly set and make sure your data files are included in the indexing process.

Additionally, you may check if the Windows Search Service is enabled and running.

How can I enable email search functionality in Outlook?

If the search functionality is not working in Outlook, you might need to troubleshoot and resolve any issues with the Outlook index or the Windows Search Service.

You can refer to this Microsoft Support article on how to verify indexing settings, run the Windows Search Troubleshooter, and configure the indexing options.

What causes Outlook to freeze during search?

Outlook may freeze during search due to issues with the indexing process, large PST files, or conflicting add-ins.

You can try restarting Outlook, disabling any conflicting add-ins, or repairing your PST files as recommended by Help Desk Geek.

How to rebuild Outlook search index?

To rebuild the Outlook search index, you can follow the steps outlined in this MakeUseOf article.

You can use the Programs and Features option in the Control Panel or the Indexing Options settings in Outlook directly to initiate the rebuilding process.

Are there any fixes for Outlook app search problems?

Yes, there are fixes for Outlook app search problems. Begin by restarting your Outlook app or updating it to the latest version.

You can also use the Windows Search Troubleshooter, check your Outlook index settings, or repair your PST files. For more detailed troubleshooting steps, refer to this Help Desk Geek guide.

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Amit Bansal

Hello, my name is Amit Kumar Bansal, and I am the founder of MailSmartly.com. Through this blog, I focus on Microsoft Outlook, offering insightful and informative content. Additionally, I produce educational videos on YouTube to further enhance the understanding of my audience. visit my YouTube Channel

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