While searching for some specific item using the Outlook application, you may come across a message displaying ‘Outlook won’t open’ and ‘Outlook couldn’t complete your search.’ This refers to ‘Outlook search not working error.’

The search function of the Outlook email client is very helpful for users to search for specific information or keywords (by using Outlook-specific search operators). If the latter does not function properly then finding desired items become a tedious task as you will then need to scroll hundreds of items to find the desired one.

Probable causes of Outlook search not working:

Probable reasons which may be attributed to the occurrence of Outlook search not working error can be either, the outdated Outlook version of Outlook or its indexing error. When Outlook has either, not indexed all the mails or items in the data file completely or has stopped indexing due to some faulty application or corruption of the Outlook data file, Outlook search does not respond.

Easy fixes for error ‘Outlook search not working’

Now, we are going to discuss how to fix the Outlook search not working issue.

SOLUTION 1: Update Microsoft Office

Outdated Outlook may cause many glitches, this error being one. Updating MS Office may fix these related glitches. Follow the steps given under to update the Outlook program:

Updating Outlook 2019, 2016, 2013

  1. Start Outlook.
  2. Select File. Click Office Account.
  3. Select Update Options under Product Information Enable Updates.
  4. Select Update Now.

Updating Outlook 2010

  1. Start Outlook. Select File
  2. Select Help.
  3. Select Check for Updates.
  4. Select Install Updates or Check for Updates.

SOLUTION 2: Fixing Indexing Error

While making a search in Outlook, you may receive a message displaying ‘No matches found’ or ‘Search result may be incomplete because items are still being indexed,’ and you can find outlook inbox not showing all emails, then you need to fix indexing functions. Fixing Indexing Error can be fixed by Rebuilding Outlook Index and Updating Index locations and features.

Rebuilding Outlook Index:

Outlook maintains a systematic index of items it consists of. This helps not only maintains a record of items systematically but also, makes it easy for you to find any desired item from the bulk of data. Any issue with the index may lead to failure or error in finding any item. Rebuilding may undo any wrong or error in the index thus, making searching for items to work.

This can be done using:

Programs and Features:

Follow the steps given under.

  1. Go to Control Panel.
  2. Select Programs and Features.
  3. Right-click Microsoft Office Enterprise (version).
  4. Click Change.
    Click change
  5. Click Quick Repair or Repair.
    Click Quick Repair

This will start the repair of the program and once it is done, restart your computer and check if the error is fixed.

Outlook Index Repair Menu Option:

Follow the steps given under.

  1. Open File. Click Options.
  2. Click Search. Click Indexing Options.
  3. Click Advanced.
  4. Click Rebuild. Click OK

Checking the Outlook Index locations:

Follow the steps given under.

  1. Open Outlook.
  2. Open File. Click Search
  3. Click Indexing Options.
  4. Click Modify.
  5. Check Microsoft Outlook. Click OK.

Once the process is over, reboot your computer.

SOLUTION 3: Using Registry Editor

To repair Microsoft Outlook, you can use Registry Editor. To do so follow the steps given:

  1. Press Win+R keys. This will open the Run box.
  2. In the run box type regedit. Click OK.
  3. Type HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Windows Search. Press Enter.
  4. Right-click any empty space. Choose New Dword.Choose New Dword
  5. Name the New Dword PreventindexingOutlook and set the value data to (0) zero. Click OK.Click ok
  6. Finally, restart your computer and see if the error still persists.

SOLUTION 4: Update Microsoft Office

Updating Microsoft Office may help you overcome various incompatibilities and the additional features in the updated version may help resolve errors occurring in programs. To update MS Office, follow the steps given under:

  1. Open Outlook.
  2. Open File. Click Office Account (or Account).
  3. Under Product Information check the Update Options drop-down menu.
  4. Click Update Now.

SOLUTION 5: Repairing Outlook Personal Folder File (.pst)

When Outlook Personal Folder File is either corrupt or damaged, then also error Outlook Search not working occurs. Repairing such corrupt .pst can help you resolve this error.

PST Repair helps you to repair your corrupt PST files and export them to Outlook PST, Office 365, Exchange, and Gmail. It can repair PST files of any size and can split the output PST file after a specified size. It supports all Outlook versions, including Outlook 2019.

Download Now

SOLUTION 6: Checking Outlook Indexing Group Policy

Sometimes certain conditions of group policy may hinder the functions of the program. To find and fix such issues, follow the steps given:

  1. In the Search box type gpedit and chose the best match.
  2. Go to User Configuration.
  3. Select Administrative Template. Select Search
  4. For alterations with respect to MS Outlook, check Default Excluded Paths and Prevent Indexing Certain Paths.
  5. If the policy is set to ‘Not Configured,’ then Group Policy is not the reason for the error.

SOLUTION 7: Reinstalling Outlook

You can uninstall Outlook from Control Panel and reinstall it. Though a tedious task, it resolves many problems related to it.


In this blog, we have discussed various methods to resolve the error ‘Outlook Search not working,’ a scenario wherein you are not able to search directly any item of Outlook using a keyword or any reference to any particular item. We also discussed a tool to repair corrupt or damaged PST files which helps you to recover your entire important Outlook data safely, precisely, and completely with complete privacy irrespective of the number and size of the files.