Windows 10 Search Not Working? Try These Fixes

Troubleshooting tips to get you back on track

Windows 10 is the most fully-featured operating system Microsoft has ever released, but to find everything in it you often need its powerful search tool. When Windows 10's file search stops working, though, it can be really problematic. Fortunately, getting it back on its feet isn’t as difficult as you might think.

Why is Windows 10 Search Not working?

Updating to the newest version of Windows can sometimes cause a problem with search. Sometimes Cortana, the smart-assistant that powers much of Windows' search functionality can bug out, causing problems for the entire search tool.

You can end up facing poor search results, or maybe even a blank results page entirely, making Windows' search tool completely redundant.

After each of the following suggestions, attempt to search again. If it still doesn't work, move on to the next tip. If you're still having problems, consult our article on what to do if the Windows 10 Start Menu isn't working.

How to Fix Windows 10 Search Problems

There's no shame in needing a helping hand to help fix your Windows file search problems. If you're happy to continue with a few tips and tricks yourself, read on below, but if you'd rather ask someone in the know, check out our guide on How Do I Get My Computer Fixed? to learn more.

  1. Restart your device. It's basic advice, but there's a reason it's the first port of call for most Windows errors — it often works wonders. If you haven't tried restarting your device, do so now, as a simple reboot of the system can fix a myriad of problems. It's better to perform a restart than shut down too, as shutdowns can occasionally send your Windows 10 PC into hibernation mode, rather than completely turning it off and on again.

  2. Turn Cortana off and on again. Since Cortana is so entwined with Windows 10's search function, turning it off and on again can do wonders for fixing 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, if not already highlighted.
    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 issues with the Windows 10 search bar not working.

    Windows search not working - Troubleshooter
    1. Open the Windows 10 Settings menu by pressing Ctrl+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. A new window will then appear asking you what the particular search problem you're facing is. Follow the on-screen instructions and tell it what it needs to know before selecting Next. The troubleshooter will then attempt to fix the problem(s) you've been facing.
  4. Make sure the Search service is running. It's always 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 Windows key+R to bring up the Run window, then type “Services.msc” before pressing 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 fixes the problem, you’ll want to make sure the service will automatically run when Windows starts. To do so:

    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 Windows key+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, our best suggestions are to try some of our more advanced Cortana help tips or opt for a full Windows reset.