Outlook Search Not Working? 4 Ways to Fix It

Repair Outlook with these tips

Computer with Outlook search function on the screen. tea and notebook in table

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You can search for specifics in your email messages, such as the sender, the date or the folder in which it is saved. You can search within an Outlook message. You can even search for emails using Outlook online.

However, if you experience the Outlook search function not working, it might be one of several issues. The right fix for Outlook search not working will depend on the version of Outlook you are using as well as the type of search you are performing. 

Troubleshooting procedures for Outlook 2019, 2016, 2013 and 2010; Outlook for Mac; and Outlook 365/Online are provided.

Update Microsoft Office

Update options button in Microsoft Office
 Screenshot

Sometimes, all you need to do is to update your software to fix a glitch such as the search in Outlook not responding. Since it is a simple process, it should be your first course of action. (Outlook Online is always up-to-date.)

Check for Available Updates in Outlook 2019, 2016, or 2013

  1. Start Outlook.
  2. Click File.
  3. Select Office Account.
  4. Click Update Options under Product Information.
  5. Click Enable Updates if the option is available.
  6. Click Update Now. Outlook will check for and download any available updates.

Check for Available Updates in Outlook 2010

  1. Start Outlook.
  2. Click File.
  3. Click Help in the left pane.
  4. Click Check for Updates.
  5. Choose Install Updates or Check for Updates. Outlook will check for and download any available updates.

Check for Available Updates in Outlook 2016 for Mac or Outlook for Mac 2011

  1. Start Outlook.
  2. Click Help.
  3. Click Check for Updates.
  4. Select Automatically Download and Install under "How would you like updates to be installed?"
  5. Click Check for Updates.

Troubleshoot Outlook Indexing

Indexing status dialog box in Office
 Screenshot

If you perform a search and receive a message stating "No matches found" or "Search results may be incomplete because items are still being indexed," try troubleshooting indexing.

Fix Indexing Issues in Outlook 2016, 2013, or 2010

  1. Start Outlook
  2. Click inside the Search box. The Search Tools tab of the ribbon is activated.
  3. Click the Search Tools drop-down in the Options group and select Indexing Status.

You should see a message stating, "Outlook has finished indexing all of your items. 0 items remaining to be indexed." If there are items to be indexed remaining, wait five minutes and try again. If the issue persists, move on to the next step.

Make Sure Indexing Options Are Correctly Configured in Windows 10, 8, or 7

  1. Type Indexing Options in the Start Search box or on the Start screen.
  2. Select Advanced in the Indexing Options dialog box.
  3. Go to the File Types tab.
  4. Scroll down in the Extension column to msg.
  5. Select msg.
  6. Make sure Index Properties and File Contents is enabled.
  7. Click OK.
  8. Click Close.

Make Sure Outlook Data Files Are Being Indexed

  1. Type Indexing Options in the Start Search box or on the Start screen.
  2. Make sure Microsoft Outlook appears in the Included Locations column of the Indexing Options dialog box.
  3. Select Modify if Microsoft Outlook is not listed.
  4. Click the check box next to Microsoft Outlook to select it.
  5. Click OK.
  6. Click Close.

Rebuild the Search Catalog If Indexing Remains Stuck

  1. Type Indexing Options in the Start Search box or on the Start screen.
  2. Select Modify in the Indexing Options dialog box.
  3. Clear the check box next to Outlook and click OK.
  4. Select Advanced to open the Advanced Options dialog box.
  5. Click Rebuild.
  6. Click OK.
  7. Click Close.

If you perform a search in Outlook 2016 for Mac or Outlook for Mac 2011 and receive a "No Results" message or your search is unsuccessful using Mac OS native Spotlight Search, you can download and run Outlook Search Repair. This Mac Outlook Support Utility will check for duplicate installations and reindex Outlook files.

  1. Download and open the Outlook Search Repair Utility.
  2. Remove any duplicate Outlook installations, if prompted.
  3. Restart your system at the prompt.
  4. Click the Reindex button.
  5. Allow the utility to complete. This can take an hour or longer.
  6. Close Outlook Search Repair when a message stating, “Reindexing has completed!” appears.

Repair Outlook

If Outlook search is still not working, you can use the built-in Office repair utility.

Office 365 modify button in Windows Apps & Features
Screenshot 

Repair Outlook 2016, 2013, or 2010 in Windows 10

  1. Close all Microsoft Office applications.
  2. Type Apps & Features into the Windows search box.
  3. Select Apps & Features.
  4. Find and click on Microsoft Office in the list of installed apps and features.
  5. Click Modify.
  6. Click Yes if a user account control window appears asking, "Do you want to allow this app to make changes to your device?"
  7. Select Online Repair and click the Repair button.
  8. Restart Outlook when the repair process is complete.

Repair Outlook 2016, 2013, or 2010 in Windows 8

  1. Close all Microsoft Office applications.
  2. Right-click the Start button.
  3. Select Control Panel.
  4. Make sure Category is selected in the View By list.
  5. Click Uninstall a Program under Programs.
  6. Right-click Microsoft Office and choose Change.
  7. Select Online Repair if it is available (this depends on the type of Microsoft Office you have installed).
  8. Click Repair.
  9. Click Yes if a user account control window appears.
  10. Restart Outlook when the repair process is complete.

Repair Outlook 2016, 2013, or 2010 in Windows 7

  1. Close all Microsoft Office applications.
  2. Click the Start button.
  3. Select Control Panel.
  4. Make sure Category is selected in the View By list.
  5. Click Uninstall a Program under Programs.
  6. Select Microsoft Office from your list of programs.
  7. Click Change.
  8. Select Online Repair if it is available (this depends on the type of Microsoft Office you have installed).
  9. Click Repair.
  10. Click Yes if a user account control window appears.
  11. Restart Outlook when the repair process is complete.

Rebuild the Office Database

You can use this utility to rebuild a corrupted database and possibly solve Outlook search not working on Mac. These steps apply to Outlook 2016 for Mac or Outlook for Mac 2011.

Exchange Server

Rebuilding the database of a Microsoft Exchange account will delete any information not synced with the server. You might want to back up any Outlook data stored only on your computer prior to rebuilding the database.

  1. Quit all Microsoft Office applications.
  2. Hold down the Option key and then click the Outlook icon in the Dock to open the Microsoft Database Utility.
  3. Click the identity of the database you want to rebuild.
  4. Click Rebuild.
  5. Restart Outlook when the process is complete.

If you continue to experience issues with the Outlook search function not working, you might opt to uninstall and reinstall Microsoft Office.