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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13 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 :)

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