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.

Causes of Windows 10 Search Problems

When Windows search isn't working, it's almost always a simple software problem. The system may just need a restart to get it working again. Other possible causes could be network-related or the search system itself having a service interruption.

Windows search not working

How to Fix Windows 10 Search Problems

You'll use a lot of the same methods to fix problems with search as other minor errors. Here are some options to try and get the system back to work.

  1. Check your network connectivity. If you aren't connected to the internet, Windows 10 search won't work. Before you try anything more serious, make sure your network is functioning properly.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Run 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.

    Open the troubleshooter by opening the Start menu and going to Settings > Update and Security > Troubleshoot > Search and Indexing. Click the Run the troubleshooter button to go through the diagnostics.

  5. Verify the Search service is running. It's possible the Windows Search service itself has been disabled for some reason.

    Press Win+R to open the Run window, then type “Services.msc” and press Enter.

    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.

  6. Rebuild the Windows 10 search indexing options. It may be that Windows 10 has forgotten where certain files and folders are. To help it remember, rebuild its indexing options. Start by accessing the Control Panel in Windows 10.

    Select Indexing Options from the main menu icons, and then click Advanced. In the Advanced options, Click Rebuild.

    The rebuilding process may take a short time to complete depending on the size of your drive and how full it is.

  7. If none of the above tips helped get your Windows 10 search bar working again, try some more advanced Cortana help tips or opt for a full Windows reset.