Outlook 2013 Search Not Working

A recent upgrade to Windows 8.1 Preview killed my Outlook 2013 search. Typing anything in the Quick Search box returned the dreaded “We couldn’t find what you were looking for” U2 message:

search1

Searching on the server or doing an Advanced Search did continue to function, but these options are slow and don’t use the pre-built index that dramatically speeds things up.  I did manage to find tons of helpful notes on the web which helped me isolate and correct the problem. I’ll summarize them below.

I’m assuming that search previously had been working in your Outlook 2013 and you know how to check indexing options to confirm that the Outlook files are included in the index.

Remove Outlook from Index

  1. Go to Outlook Settings (File | Options)
  2. Go to the Search settings
  3. Click on Indexing Options
  4. Click Modify and deselect Microsoft Outlook
  5. Click Close to dismiss dialog box
  6. Exit Outlook

Ensure Outlook Files Can Be Indexed

Any Outlook OST or PST file that you’re using must be allowed to be indexed by Windows.  This is a default file attribute when Outlook indexing is enabled, but for some reason, it was changed during my recent OS upgrade.

  1. Find all OST and PST files that you’re using on your computer.  In Windows 8, OST files are usually hidden and stored in the C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook folder.
  2. For each file you’re using, right click on the file(s) and select Properties
  3. Click on the Advanced button on the general tab
  4. Ensure that the Allow this file to have contents indexed in addition to file is checkedsearch2
  5. Click OK

Re-Add Outlook to Index

Now follow the same steps in the first section and re-add Microsoft Outlook to the search index.  Start Outlook, go to the Indexing Options, and add Microsoft Outlook back to the list.

Rebuild Index (Optional)

The above actions corrected the issue for me; however, if it’s still not working for you, then you may need to rebuild the search index.  To rebuild the index:

  1. Go to Outlook Settings (File | Options)
  2. Go to the Search settings
  3. Click on Indexing Options
  4. Click Advanced
  5. Click Rebuild
  6. Click OK and then Close to dismiss the dialogs

Indexing will run for a while but quick search should begin working shortly, using whatever index has been built thus far.

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70 Responses to “Outlook 2013 Search Not Working”

  1. Robel Jungle Says:

    Very useful post.

    Thanks

  2. abh dfl Says:

    very useful!!!!

  3. flashkube Says:

    Thanks a lot. This fixed the issue.

  4. Jagadish Says:

    Thanks a ton…That fixed the issue on my windows 8.1…

    You are a champ.

  5. ybool Says:

    Thanks- if this still doesn’t sort you out (as it did not for me) some of the suggestions here may also help:

    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2769651

  6. Mike Says:

    Perfect fix, can search at last. Much appreciated.

  7. Dhiraj Says:

    To get an answers about the Outlook 2013 hang/crashed issue on windows follow below site”

    http://answers-free.blogspot.in/2014/02/outlook-2013-get-hang-again-and-again.html

  8. A O Says:

    Brillian thank you very much indeed. Why is that Microsoft cant supply these solutions without a lot of technical guff and still still no solution at the end yet their users can. Need I say more.

  9. Aaron Says:

    Thank you! I found this useful.

  10. M P Says:

    This solution did not work for me.

    My symptoms are the same as you describe: all searches result in “we couldn’t find what you were looking for.”

    I went through your steps, and still had the same results. I decided to try your method a second time, and found that the box “Allow this file to have contents indexed…” was no longer checked. Somehow this choice is being unselected every time I try.

    Any other thoughts?

  11. Portlander Says:

    My result is the same as M P. Author’s suggestions did not work for me. And exactly like M P, my “Allow this file to have contents indexed…” option for the .ost file is being turned off automagically.

    It is extremely frustrating when simple search is completely broken and returns 0 results every time on my INBOX that has thousands of messages.

  12. Pat Kaericher Evans Says:

    Thanks so much! I’d tried several other things to no avail and this solved my problem.

  13. Mirena Says:

    Thank you so much :)

  14. mufti Says:

    all good stuff but when I went to C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook folder there was no Outlook folder there? No wonder the search doesn’t work, does anyone have any suggestions as to why Outlook is not showing please?

  15. Paula Says:

    Thank you! This worked for me!

  16. Kashyap Says:

    I tried so many different solutions, this one finally worked. Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. Ade Says:

    Phew, finally!!! Thank you very plenty

  18. JD Says:

    Thank you
    Thank you
    Thank you

  19. Johnf277 Says:

    cheers for the actual article i’ve recently been on the lookout with regard to this kind of advice on the net for sum time proper now so numerous thanks ebkfeadgfddd

  20. M R Siefken Says:

    Thank you. Worked like a charm.

  21. StefanS Says:

    Great article
    But if you want an independent email search tool, try lookeen. It’s fast and easy to operate. You can find the trial version on http://www.lookeen.de

    Disclaimer: I work for Axonic – vendor of Lookeen.

  22. JT Says:

    Thanks. This was the ticket. Not much help on MS forums or elsewhere… Ta!

  23. genie Says:

    fixed my issues with searching! Thanks!

  24. My Web Site Says:

    great post and valid points

  25. terrigrover Says:

    Thank you, this is the only thing that worked!

  26. The Pale Russian Says:

    Thanks! You are much better than official Microsoft support web-sites.

  27. Ken McGuire Says:

    These didn’t work for me. What did work was changing my current view from “Hide Messages marked for deletion” to “IMAP Messages” and the problem went away. (View: Change View) I had never changed the View settings before, so maybe that’s some sort of default.

  28. Keith Trafford Says:

    This post resolved my issue. Thank You.

  29. ronnie Says:

    freaking updates cause me pending works because of this indexing issue. thanks dude and it helps me great

  30. JanN Says:

    Feature has been removed:

    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc178954(v=office.15).aspx

  31. JanN Says:

    In above like / page, search for “outlook search”

  32. kaswardy Says:

    After following so many tutorial on the web with no avail, this finally works. Thanks a lot.

  33. charlie Says:

    Thank you – a great help

  34. Ken Says:

    Thanks Ken McGuire, your solution worked for me

  35. KeebMeister Says:

    Fantastic! Worked like a dream.

  36. matguthrie Says:

    Genius. Thanks. The sudden disappearance of quick search was really annoying and this fixed it.

  37. Lynn Frances Says:

    Worked perfectly. Thanks for taking the time to post these instructions.

  38. kylaroy7 Says:

    Worked for me too! saved me a 2 hour phone call to Microsoft! thank you!

  39. Seth Says:

    As with others, my problem (affecting only my IMAP e-mail) began after “upgrading” to Windows 8.1. My thanks to Rick (the blogger) for most of the solution. Following his advice restored search access to my “Sent” folder. Inbox search was still not working, but Ken McGuire’s tip fixed that as well. I’m very grateful to you both!

  40. matguthrie Says:

    Actually, I keep finding the ‘Allow Contents to be Indexed’ option to reverts back to unchecked and the problem reoccurs. Any ideas?

  41. Faye Says:

    Very very very useful!! Three thumbs up! :)

  42. Adrian Says:

    thanks alot… tried repairing office and all other bullshits but this works for me :D

  43. Daniel Sokolowski Says:

    What worked for me was searching current folder or all mailboxes, current mailbox seems to be broken – my next step will be re-adding the account.

  44. whanieda Says:

    Thank you, this really worked. I was going off my mind when i started my pc it wanted to index about 200 000 items every time.

  45. djrhythmbandit Says:

    Thanks – tried the suggestions here and had more immediate results. Cheers.

  46. Murat Says:

    worked perfect. Million Thanks…

  47. Hunter Says:

    FIXED! Thank you soooo much!

  48. Sergey Says:

    I spent several days to understand what happened. Many thanks!!!. It really works.

  49. Justina Says:

    Thank you, the solution worked. I was really struggling not being able to search in my archived messages.

  50. Phil harris Says:

    Thank you. I couldn’t find a contact using search for a long time — so annoying and your post fixed it.

  51. Ellis Says:

    Brilliant! Worked perfectly. Thank you.

  52. Ondra Says:

    Thanks for the post – it solves my problém!

  53. TerriMaine Says:

    I’m with Matt Guthrie–every time I do this, it works! And then the next time I open Outlook it isn’t working again and I have to do the entire process over. What can I do?

  54. TerriMaine Says:

    Thanks, KenMcGuire–your solution worked instantly, and I never even noticed that setting. I’m very hopeful that it will continue to work in the future! I’ll be resetting my clients’ Outlook the same way.

  55. Rob Says:

    Thank you! Helped me out a lot!

  56. coleen Says:

    Perfect! thank you for saving me hours of headache! :)

  57. Karla R Duarte Says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

  58. Outlook Pst Search Not Working - ORG.org Says:

    […] Outlook 2013 Search Not Working | … – 28.06.2013 · 53 Responses to “Outlook 2013 Search Not Working” Robel Jungle Says: October 26, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Reply. Very useful post. Thanks. abh dfl Says:… […]

  59. dkcook2 Says:

    I have tried both Rick (the blogger) and KenMcQuire’s suggestion and the ‘Allow Contents to be Indexed’ option keeps reverts back to unchecked and the problem reoccurs. Any ideas? I’m using Win 8.1 and Outlook 2013. I have Outlook 2013 on an SSD and my .OST IMAP files on a separate hard drive.

  60. Miket67m Says:

    Hi – this worked well on my laptop but on the PC the ost files keeping losing their indexing setting.

  61. Meira Ds Says:

    thanks soo much!! absolutely to the point information :)

  62. AlCD Says:

    Where exactly is this option Ken McGuire mentions to change the view to IMAP? I use Outlook 2013 with an Exchnage an several POP3 accounts, no IMAP. No such option. Is it only available with an IMAP account? After PC restart, the checks to the “allow contents to be indexed” are gone.

  63. Lockon Says:

    BINGO! This was the only post which solved the issue for me as well. Many many thanks.

  64. Entropy Says:

    I run windows 8.1 and outlook 2013 and my problem was that my windows index was crashing when I was including outlook.

    Ensure Outlook Files Can Be Indexed!!!!!! This fixed my problem and I do not understand why this was not checked by default?

    Thanks a million for your post…

  65. mazaru Says:

    excelent – thx!

  66. Kelly Says:

    Outstanding Sir! Direct to the point and worked as designed! Thank you. Kelly

  67. Terry Says:

    5hrs of internet research got me to this website. It works for me. Wish I would have a arrived sooner.

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