Fix Outlook Search Not Working In Windows 10/11


Imagining a world where you can’t find the emails you need is frustrating. If you’re having trouble with Outlook search not working in Windows 10/11, don’t worry – I’m here to help you fix it.

In this article, I’m going to discuss several methods to get Outlook search working again, from running the Windows Search Troubleshooter to rebuilding the Outlook search index catalog.

With these steps, you’ll be able to get back to searching emails in no time.


Searching in Outlook can be a hassle when it’s not working, but with the pre-existing knowledge provided, you can quickly get Outlook search back up and running.

The reasons behind the Outlook search function not working can be due to using an outdated version of Outlook, disabled index option, inactive search service, issues in the Outlook application, and corrupt Outlook PST files.

The methods to fix the search function not working in Outlook (on Windows) include updating Microsoft Outlook, checking the indexing status, enabling the Outlook indexing option, rebuilding the Outlook search index catalog, verifying if the search service is running, disabling add-ins in Outlook, and repairing Outlook program with built-in tool. Additionally, SCANPST.exe is an inbuilt Outlook Tool that can be used for repairing data files, however, it can be tedious and time-consuming.

For Mac users, the possible reasons for Outlook search not working are using an outdated version of Outlook, using special characters while searching, Outlook profile displayed in the Spotlight Privacy tab, incomplete Spotlight indexing process, and Outlook profile folder in the incorrect location.

1. Rebuild Outlook Search Index Catalog

Rebuilding the Outlook search index catalog can help get your search back on track. This involves:

  • Click on ‘Start’ button
  • Search for ‘Indexing Options’

After the rebuilding is done, restart your system.




This helps Outlook re-index the messages and will enable you to search for emails, contacts, calendar entries, tasks, and other items. Rebuilding the index catalog can be time-consuming, but the search function must work as expected. In case the index catalog is corrupted or damaged, the search function will stop working.

By rebuilding the index catalog, you can restore the search functionality and easily access your Outlook data. To ensure the best performance and effective search results, make sure to regularly rebuild the index catalog.

Next, you should check the indexing status to make sure the Outlook search is working properly.

2. Check the Indexing Status

Checking the indexing status is a great way to make sure Outlook search is working properly. To do this, you need to open the Outlook app and type ‘search’ in the toolbar. When you select ‘Search Tools’ and then ‘Indexing Status’, you’ll see how many items are awaiting index. Although you can still use Outlook search while the remaining items get indexed, you may still experience some omissions.

The following table highlights the difference between omissions and indexing:

Omissions Indexing
Missing items in search Items are indexed
Search result not accurate Search result is accurate
Search result is slow Search result is fast
Search result is not complete Search result is complete

You can check the indexing status to determine if Outlook search is working properly. If the items awaiting index are more than the usual, you can follow the other steps to fix the issue.

3. Check Outlook Index Locations

To ensure Outlook’s search is operating correctly, you need to check its indexed locations.

Open Outlook and go to File > Options > Search > Indexing Options. From the Indexing Options panel, select Modify and make sure Microsoft Outlook is checked. Afterward, press OK and restart your system.


This will ensure that Outlook is properly indexed and its search service is up-to-date.

If the issue persists, you will need to verify if the search service is running. Also, make sure to check the Outlook version and ensure it is up-to-date.

Moving forward, you may also need to enable the Outlook indexing option and rebuild the Outlook search index catalog.

4. Verify if Search Service is Running

Verifying whether the search service is running is an important step in resolving the Outlook search issue. To do so, you need to press Windows+R to open the Run window and type services. msc.

Next, find the Windows Search option from the list and double-click on it. Under the Startup type, select the Automatic (Delayed Start) option if it wasn’t selected previously. The Service status should show Running by default, if not, click the Start button to start the service.

If the Search service is running, it should help resolve the Outlook search issue.

Moving on, disabling add-ins in Outlook is another method to fix the issue.

5. Disable Add-ins in Outlook

Disabling add-ins in Outlook can help resolve the issue in Windows 10/11.

To disable add-ins, first launch Outlook and click on the File tab. Then, click on Options, followed by Add-ins from the list.

This will open up a list of all the add-ins, both active, inactive, and disabled. Select COM Add-ins from the Manage list and click Go.

Untick the add-ins that you want to disable. Click OK and restart Outlook to see if disabling the add-ins has made any difference.

6. Run the Windows Search Troubleshooter

Running the Windows Search Troubleshooter can help get Outlook search back up and running. To access it, head to Start > Settings > Update & Security, then select Troubleshoot.

Under Additional troubleshooters, select Search and Indexing, and click Run the troubleshooter. Check the box next to Outlook search that doesn’t return results, click Next, and let the troubleshooter do its job.

Restart your system once it has completed its fixes.

7. Repair Outlook Program

After trying to disable the add-ins in Outlook, if the issue persists, it is time to repair the Outlook program with the built-in repair utility of Microsoft. Here are some simple steps to follow:

  • Open Settings from the Start menu and select Apps
  • Under Apps & Features choose Microsoft Office Professional and click on Modify
  • Choose Quick Repair from the option to repair Outlook
  • If the problem persists, choose Online Repair to fix the program

Repairing Outlook with the built-in repair utility of Microsoft should resolve the issue. However, if the issue is still not fixed, it might be due to corrupt Outlook files. In this case, we can try to fix the search not working by using the registry.

8. Fix Outlook Search Using the Registry

Try repairing your Outlook search using the Windows Registry.

  • To do this, open the Run dialog by pressing Windows Key + R. Then, type regedit and press Enter to open the Registry Editor.
  • Next, press Ctrl + F to open the search menu and copy and paste the following registry key:
  • Once found, select the right-hand panel, then right-click and select New Dword (32-bit).
  • Name the new Dword PreventIndexingOutlook and assign it the value 0.
  • Press OK, then restart your system. Doing this should resolve any issues you have with Outlook Search not working.

For a more permanent solution, you may need to consider updating your version of Microsoft Office 2021 or Microsoft 365.

9. Update Microsoft Office 2021/Microsoft 365

Updating your version of Microsoft Office 2021 or Microsoft 365 might provide a more permanent solution to your Outlook Search issues.

To make sure you have the latest version installed, open Outlook and go to File > Office Account (just Account for other Office programs).

Here you can check the Update Options drop-down menu to see if there is a new version available. If so, simply select Update Now and let the process complete.

If you don’t have the Update Options drop-down menu, there are a few possibilities:

  • You may be running a volume license issued by your workplace or similar.
  • You may have made changes to your system Group Policy.
  • Your workplace or similar may be using a Group Policy to prevent manual updates.
  • Someone else may have installed a pirated version of Microsoft 365 (formerly Microsoft Office) on your system.

In either case, you can manually install the latest Microsoft Office update via their Office Updates download page. Alternatively, you can repair your Outlook Personal Folder File (PST) to get your Outlook Search working again.

10. Repair Your Outlook Personal Folder File

To get your Outlook running smoothly again, repair your Outlook Personal Folder File.

  • To do this, you’ll need to locate the repair tool, scanpst.exe, which is dependent on your Outlook version. You’ll also need to know the location of your PST file, which can usually be found in C:\Users\YOURUSERNAME\AppData\Local\MicrosoftOutlook.
  • Once you have all of this information, right-click scanpst.exe and select Run as administrator. Then follow the prompts to select the relevant account and start the repair process. This can take a few minutes but should fix your Outlook search problems.

If you can’t find the PST file, it could be that you’re using IMAP rather than POP3 to check your email.

Repairing your Outlook Personal Folder File may be the solution you need to get Outlook search running again.

11. Check the Outlook Indexing Group Policy Setting

As a last resort, you may need to check the Outlook Indexing Group Policy setting.

To do this, type ‘gpedit’ into the Start menu search bar and select the best match. From there, you need to browse to User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Search.

Here, you need to check the Default excluded paths and Prevent indexing certain paths for any changes regarding Microsoft Outlook.

If the policy state is set to ‘Not configured’, then you can safely assume that this is not the cause of your search issue.

Here are some additional things to keep in mind when troubleshooting Outlook search:

  • Check if indexing is enabled
  • Check that all necessary folders are indexed
  • Disable any add-ins that may be causing conflicts
  • Rebuild the search index

12. Reinstall Outlook

If all else fails, you may need to reinstall Outlook. This is admittedly a time-consuming process and not the ideal solution, but some users have reported that it is the only thing that finally fixed their Outlook search issues.

To reinstall Outlook, you should first check if your version of Outlook is compatible with the version of Windows you are using.

After you have reinstalled Outlook, you should check to make sure that Outlook is functioning properly. If it is, then your search problems should also be fixed. However, if the issue persists, you may need to try more advanced methods to fix the search not working issue in Outlook.

13. Run an SFC and DISM Scan

To resolve any system errors, try running an SFC and DISM scan.

  • Click the Start button or press the Windows key and search for PowerShell.
  • Select Run as Administrator from the options on the right.
  • When the PowerShell terminal opens, run the command ‘sfc /scannow’.
  • After the SFC scan completes, run a DISM scan by running the command ‘DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth’.
  • SFC and DISM scans can help to fix corrupt system files, which may be the cause of Outlook not working.
  • If the issue persists after running these scans, you may need to try additional measures.

Moving on to the conclusion section.

How To Fix Outlook Search Not Working on Mac?

If you’re having trouble getting Outlook’s search function to work on a Mac, don’t worry – you’re not alone. It’s a common issue, and there are several possible causes. Usually, the problem can be resolved by updating your Outlook, checking for special characters in your profile, examining Spotlight privacy settings, or resolving a corrupt Spotlight index. Here’s how to troubleshoot this issue.

1. Update Office

Updating your Outlook is the easiest way to try and get the search function working again. Checking for updates regularly can ensure that your applications are running on the most recent version. If you have not updated your Outlook in a while, it is a good idea to check for any available updates.

This can help fix any minor bugs or glitches that might be preventing Outlook from working properly.

  • You can do this by opening the Outlook application and then navigating to the ‘Help’ section.
  • From there, you can click on the ‘Check for updates option and follow the onscreen instructions to get the latest version of Outlook.

After this, you should be able to use the search function without any issues. If the issue persists, then you can try looking for any peculiar or special characters in your Outlook profile to fix the search not working issue.

2. Look for Any  Special Characters in your Outlook profile

Checking for any peculiar or special characters in your Outlook profile could be the key to getting your search working again. It is possible for special characters, such as periods or symbols, to interfere with the search function. To fix this issue, you should:

  1. Open the Outlook profile and search for any special characters.
  2. If they are present, then remove them.
  3. If they are not present, then you can try additional methods to resolve the issue.

To ensure that the search function works properly, you should also make sure that your Outlook profile is saved correctly. If any changes have been made, then you should save the profile again to ensure that all the settings are correctly applied. With the right changes, your Outlook search should start working normally.

Transitioning into the next section, examining Spotlight’s privacy settings can also help you get rid of search not working in Outlook Mac.

3. Examine the Spotlight’s privacy settings

Examining Spotlight’s privacy settings can help you solve the search not working issue in Outlook Mac. The Spotlight privacy settings list the applications and folders that are allowed to be indexed by the Spotlight search.

  • To check Spotlight’s privacy settings, go to System Preferences and select the ‘Spotlight’ tab.
  • In the Privacy tab, make sure that the Outlook profile is not listed, as this will prevent Spotlight from indexing Outlook items. If the profile is listed, click the ‘-‘ button to remove it and click ‘OK’ to save the changes.

If the Outlook profile is not listed, the search not working issue may be related to the Spotlight indexing process. To check if the indexing process is stuck, click the ‘Open Spotlight Preferences’ and go to the ‘Search Results tab. If the number of indexed items is not increasing, then the Spotlight indexing process is incomplete and needs to be reset.

Privacy Settings Indexing Process Resolution
Check Privacy tab Check number of indexed items Remove Outlook profile, if listed
Confirm Outlook profile not listed Check if process is stuck Reset Spotlight indexing process

Resolve the Corrupt Spotlight Index

If the Spotlight index is corrupt, it can cause Outlook Mac’s search function to stop working. Therefore, resolving the corrupt spotlight index is an important step when troubleshooting Outlook Mac’s search not working issue.

  • To do this, you can use the spotlight console on Mac. This console provides access to the spotlight indexing service and can help you diagnose and resolve the issue.
  • To access the spotlight console, open the Finder window and click on the Go menu.
  • Then select Utilities. In the Utilities window, select Console. Now select Spotlight from the left pane.

You can then view the status of the indexing process and check the history of the indexing process. If the indexing process is incomplete, you can click the Reindex button to start the indexing process. Also, you can check the settings of Spotlight to make sure it is enabled and configured correctly.

Once the Spotlight index is fixed, you can try searching in Outlook Mac again to check if the search is working. If the issue persists, you should try running an SFC and DISM scan to repair any system errors.


In conclusion, these measures should ensure that any Outlook search failures are taken care of. To summarize:

  • Microsoft Outlook:
    • Update Outlook
    • Enable indexing
    • Rebuild search index
    • Verify if the search service is running
    • Disable add-ins
    • Repair Outlook program with SFC and DISM scans
  • Mac Outlook:
    • Update Outlook
    • Fix special characters
    • Check Spotlight Privacy settings
    • Resolve corrupt Spotlight index

Keeping Outlook updated can help prevent search function failures, while running SFC and DISM scans can help repair the Outlook personal files.

With a few simple steps, you can ensure your Outlook search will run smoothly for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to use SCANPST.exe to repair Outlook files?

Yes, it’s safe to use SCANPST.exe to repair Outlook files. SCANPST.exe is an inbuilt Outlook Tool for repairing data files. It is a reliable tool that ensures no harm is done to the damaged file during the repair process.

Using SCANPST.exe can be a tedious and time-consuming process, but it’s worth the effort.

If the manual method does not work, you can use the advanced Remo Repair Outlook PST tool to fix severely corrupt Outlook files.

Pro Tip: 5 Ways to Move Outlook Navigation Pane to Bottom

Which other tools can be used to repair severely corrupt Outlook files?

When it comes to repairing severely corrupt Outlook files, it’s like being a mechanic trying to fix a broken engine. Scanpst.exe is one tool available, but sometimes a more powerful solution is needed.

Remo Repair Outlook PST is an advanced option that can get the job done quickly and efficiently. It’s designed to ensure no harm is done to the damaged file during the repair process, so you can have confidence that your Outlook data will be restored.

Are there any other solutions to fix Outlook search not working besides the ones mentioned in the article?

Yes, there are other solutions to fix Outlook search not working.

One option is to create a new Outlook profile on your computer. This will create a new Outlook data file and help fix any issues with the existing one.

You can also try restarting the Outlook application and your computer to see if that helps.

If the issue persists, you can try accessing Outlook in safe mode to identify any add-ins that could be causing the issue.

If all else fails, you can reinstall Microsoft Outlook on your computer.

What are the steps to enable or add a missing Outlook search bar?

Struggling to locate the Outlook search bar? I’m here to help!

To get the search function up and running again, you’ll need to enable or add it back in. It’s not rocket science, but it does require some effort.

To begin, open Outlook and click on the File tab. Then, navigate to Options > Search and check the box that says ‘show search box in the ribbon’.

Voila! You’re all set. With a little elbow grease, you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for in no time.

I am a computer engineer holding a bachelor's degree in Computer Science, complemented by a Master's in Business Administration from University of Strathclyde, Scotland. I currently work as a Senior IT Consultant in Melbourne, Australia. With over 15 years of...