Windows 10 Search Not Working? Try These Fixes

Troubleshooting tips to get you back on track

The search tool in Windows 10 has, with different feature updates of the operating system, both increased and decreased its integration with both Cortana and with File Explorer. These often-shifting changes to how search works leads to glitches—some of which present an easy fix.

These instructions apply to all versions of Windows 10.

How to Fix Windows 10 Search Problems

  1. Restart your device. It's basic advice, but there's a reason it's the first port of call for most Windows errors—reboots often work wonders. If you haven't tried restarting your device, do so now, as a simple reboot of the system flushes memory and disk-cache glitches that adversely affect system performance. It's better to perform a restart than shut down too, as shutdowns occasionally send your Windows 10 PC into hibernation mode.

  2. Turn Cortana off and on again. Since Cortana is so entwined with Windows 10's search function, turning it off and on again sometimes corrects Windows 10’s file-search problems.

    Windows task manager with Cortana highlighted

    To do so:

    1. Right-click your taskbar, or tap and hold on a tablet, and select Task Manager from the drop-down list.
    2. When the Task Manager window appears, make sure you’re looking at the expanded options and select the Processes tab.
    3. Select More Details if your Task Manager looks a lot less detailed than the screenshot above.
    4. Sort the processes by Name by selecting the appropriate tab.
    5. Scroll through the list until you find the Cortana process.
    6. Right-click Cortana, then select End task from the menu that appears.
  3. Windows Troubleshooter. Microsoft's Windows troubleshooter may not be able to fix every problem it comes across, but it can often send you in the right direction to learn more or at least pinpoint what the actual problem might be. The same goes for problems with the Windows 10 search bar not working.

    Windows search not working - Troubleshooter
    1. Open the Windows 10 Settings menu by pressing Win+I on your keyboard, or select the Start button, then select the cog icon.
    2. Select Update and security from within the Settings menu.
    3. Select Troubleshoot from the left-hand menu.
    4. Scroll through the list of options and select Search and indexing.
    5. Select the Run the troubleshooter button.
    6. Follow the on-screen instructions to tell the troubleshooter what it needs to know before selecting Next and allowing it to work its diagnostics.
  4. Verify the Search service is running. It's possible the Windows Search service itself has been disabled for some reason.

    Windows search fix services

    To re-enable it, or at least confirm it’s still running:

    1. Press Win+R to open the Run window, then type “Services.msc” and press Enter.
    2. When the Services window appears, scroll down the list of services to find Windows Search. If it's already running, right-click it or tap and hold, then select Restart. Alternatively, if it's disabled or has a blank Status, right-click or tap and hold, then select Start.

    If this solution fixes the problem, ensure the service runs when Windows starts:

    1. Right-click it again or tap and hold, then select Properties.
    2. From the General tab, select the drop-down menu next to Startup type.
    3. Select Automatic.
  5. Rebuild the Windows 10 search indexing options. It may be that Windows 10 has simply forgotten where certain files and folders are. To help it remember, rebuild its indexing options by pressing Win+R and typing “Control Panel,” before selecting OK.

    Windows search not working - Indexing
    1. Within the Control Panel, with the View by option in the top-right, select Large Icon from the drop-down menu.
    2. Select Indexing Options from the main menu icons.
    3. Select the Advanced button. If prompted, give administrator approval to continue.
    4. Select Rebuild, then select OK. The rebuilding process may take a short time to complete depending on the size of your drive and how full it is.
  6. Windows 10 Start Menus Search Not Working, Still? If none of the above tips helped get your Windows 10 search bar working again, try some of our more advanced Cortana help tips or opt for a full Windows reset.