Windows 11 Search Not Working? Try These Fixes

Troubleshooting glitches with the search function

When Windows Search isn't working, there are a number of symptoms you might run into. Maybe you can't type into the Windows 11 search bar, or your files or apps aren't showing up in the results. It's even possible for the search button to not respond at all, meaning you can't even try to run a search.

These directions are exclusively for Windows 11.

Why Is Windows Search Not Working?

Windows 11 is still in its infancy, so bugs are expected. Future updates to Windows will address bug-related search issues. Other problems might just be perceived; there are some settings, when set a certain way, which masquerade as a malfunction.

Regardless, all search-related problems in Windows 11 are software related, so either an update from Microsoft or some tweaking on your end should be enough to fix Windows Search not working.

How to Fix Windows 11 Search Problems

There are a variety of things you can try, from a simple restart to editing system settings and uninstalling programs.

  1. Restart your computer. Yes, this is an obvious and typical solution to most computer issues, but it's also one of the easier things to try when attempting to fix search problems.

    An easy way to reboot Windows 11 is to right-click the Start button and go to Shut down or sign out > Restart.

  2. Open the Run dialog box. You don't even need to enter anything! It's an odd solution, but seems to work for people who run into the issue where the search bar isn't letting you type.

    Use the WIN+R shortcut to launch Run, and then exit to see if this fixes the search issue.

  3. Restart SearchHost.exe. This process runs each time you open the search box, and should remain suspended when the search window is closed. If there's a problem with this process opening or closing when it needs to, it could be causing your search issue.

    Press Ctrl+Alt+Del to open Task Manager. Go into the Details tab and right-click SearchHost.exe. Select End task, and then confirm with End process. Once it disappears from Task Manager, try opening the search window again.

    End task option for SearchHost process in Task Manager
  4. Change the search settings to scour more folders. If you think the Windows 11 search tool is broken because it's not finding files you know you have, double-check search set up to actually search those folders.

    To do this, open search and select the three-dot menu button on the upper-right side, and then choose Indexing options. Enable Enhanced if you want to search through all of your PC's folders. Also confirm the folders you want to search through aren't listed in the Exclude folders from enhanced search area.

    Searching Windows enhanced option selected

    If search is broken to the point you can't open it from the taskbar, right-click the Start button and go to Settings > Search > Searching Windows.

  5. Enable or restart the Windows Search service. This needs to be running in order for Windows 11 to properly search for files.

    Do this by launching the Run dialog box (WIN+R) and executing the msconfig command. Open Windows Search and select Start. If it's already running, stop it and start it again.

    Windows Search Properties and Services for Windows 11
  6. Rebuild the Windows 11 search index. Open Settings by right-clicking the Start menu and selecting it from the list, and then go to Search > Searching Windows > Customize search locations > Advanced > Rebuild.

    Indexing and Advanced Options in Windows 11
  7. Windows includes built-in troubleshooters which might be able to offer another solution not covered above.

    You can try this through Settings. Once there, go to Update & Security > Troubleshoot > Additional troubleshooters > Search and Indexing > Run the troubleshooter, and then follow the steps on the screen.

    Search and Indexing troubleshooter
  8. Check Windows Update for a fix. Microsoft releases updates all the time to not only add new features to Windows but to address problems as well. There could be an update you've yet to install which fixes the search problem.

    Windows Updates available message in Windows 11
  9. Undo recent changes made to your computer. It's likely unclear you know for sure what's to blame for the search problem, but here are some ideas to consider:

    • Uninstall a program
    • Roll back a driver
    • Run System Restore

    If search works in Safe Mode, there's a good chance the problem is related to a recently installed driver.

  10. Reset Windows 11. At this point, you can restore the whole operating system to its original, default state to fix Windows Search. It's not guaranteed to work if the search bug hasn't yet been addressed by Microsoft, but at this stage, it's the last thing you can try.

    Perform a Windows 11 reset through Settings > Update & Security > Recovery > Reset PC.

    FAQ
    • How do I search for files in Windows 11?

      Use the search bar or click the File Explorer icon from the taskbar or the Windows Start menu to search for a file within a specific folder. To search and show hidden folders, select the ellipses symbol from the File Explorer menu bar > Options > Folder Options > Show hidden files, folders, and drives.

    • Why is my search bar not working in Windows 10?

      If Windows 10 search isn't working on your computer, the problem is probably related to a software issue. The problem could also come from a network or search service interruption. Troubleshoot the issue by checking your network connectivity, restarting your device, and turning Cortana off and on again.

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