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:


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.


164 Responses to “Outlook 2013 Search Not Working”

  1. Robel Jungle Says:

    Very useful post.


  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:

  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”

  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.

    • Peter Fitch Says:

      Seriously?!?! Things can be so simple. Thank you so much. This worked for me

    • DWilliams Says:

      This worked for me too (the indexing check box kept unchecking on restart). Thanks!

    • MyVirtually Says:

      In addition to the above. If you go into the “manage view settings” and modify the “Hide Messages Marked for Deletion” view clear the filter applied and you can stay in the same view. We had 2 identical PCs setup and one had this issue. One had a filter nested deep the other had filters set to “off”. Hope this helps.

    • Jonathan Jehan Says:

      Where are the settings you describe please? I’m looking under “View/Change View” and can’t see any of the options you describe. Cheers.

      • Pierre-Luc Says:

        Neither can I. Any luck so far?

      • MyVirtually Says:

        The View settings appear when you select it from the top menu. Once you are in the view setting, on the left hand side you should see a menu with 4 icons this sits just above the standard inbox / subfolders. These are the views you can select. You can also modify each of these views with specific filters.

        A filter had somehow been applied when set to “hide messages marked for deletion” clearing the filter in the manage settings option resolved this.

    • digitalpuppy Says:

      Thanks so much! This did the trick for me as well. I have multiple inboxes working under Outlook and only my Gmail accounts were affected by this ‘bug’ of 0 search results. Once I selected the “Change View / IMAP Messages” I started getting results. For insurance, I cleared the filter in “View Settings” as well. Thanks to everyone who contributed this solution!

    • Salamihawk (@salamihawk) Says:

      I love you, man!

    • Head Mananger Says:

      Great! Worked fine to me!

    • Chris Says:

      You rock. Thanks! Why ‘hide messages marked for deletion’ causes them to not appear in search results, I don’t know. Yet another of Microsoft’s quirks.

  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:

  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 😀

  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:

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  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.

  68. Karl Says:

    Thank you

  69. Fix for Outlook 13 Instant Search Not Working on Windows 8 Says:

    […] this problem available on the internet and the closest I got was the “solution” posted here. After following all the instructions provided on that page, the instant search function worked […]

  70. Fix for Outlook 13 Search Not Working on Win 8 Says:

    […] this problem available on the internet and the closest I got was the “solution” posted here. After following all the instructions provided on that page, the instant search function worked […]

  71. Drazen Says:

    If this did not work for you, which was the case for me because the ‘Allow Contents to be Indexed’ option in Outlook OST or PST file keeps reverting back to unchecked state and the problem reoccurs, you can try my solution to this problem which worked for me on Outlook 13 on Windows 8. Check it out here http://www.drazendodig.com/outlook-13-search-not-working-fixed/
    I had Microsoft developers fix the issue and it worked.

  72. Sim Diggles Says:

    There are clearly many different reasons which cause the Search to break. Rick’s solution worked only temporarily for me. It turned out to be a View Setting which solved the problem for my IMAP-specific problem.

  73. me Says:

    Very useful post, now it’s fixed 🙂


  74. Cliff Says:

    Thank you. I am running Windows 7 and had to also use http://www.brucebnews.com/2011/04/enable-outlook-2010-search-and-indexing-on-windows-7/
    Works fine now. Thank you

  75. someone Says:

    thanks man, I’ve used your method multiple times already since Windows manages to break the index quite regularly 😦

  76. Hoàng Thanh Tùng Says:

    Thanks for your help!

  77. Hausverwaltung Essen Says:

    I spent so many hours to get the search fixed – now I got it!

  78. Me Says:

    Finally somebody with a proper answer. Precise and concise! Thank you!

  79. Jim Says:

    Thanks man!!

  80. hussain Says:

    Perfect. Very clear and useful instructions. Many Thanks.

  81. Francois@MultiCad Says:

    Awesome!!!! I’ve battled with this for a year and just didn’t make the time to investigate properly. Thank you for you post, my search works now!

  82. Zak Says:

    You are so good, thank you very much !
    Working for me !!! 🙂

  83. Igor M. Says:

    It works 🙂 . Tnx a lot 🙂 .

  84. Devesh Says:

    worked….! thanks man….!

  85. TimC Says:

    Worked for me also, many thanks.

  86. Mohammed Says:

    Thanx a lot..! It works 🙂

  87. ohm Says:


  88. doubleshotglassworks Says:

    THANK YOU!!!! That worked perfectly. Thanks for the very clear instructions.

  89. Phil Says:

    This suggestion did not work for me. I’m running windows 7. The advanced search works, but not the default search.

  90. René Says:

    Worked perfectly. Thanks a bunch.

  91. thefire03 Says:

    thanks a lot.

  92. Mohammed Says:

    Great! Thu alooooooooooooooooooooooooot

  93. Jasonkzh Says:


    mapisvc.inf or spscoll.txt??
    which is the file?

    However, this method works to me. Thanks a lot ya ~

  94. Jay Says:

    Great post…it worked after applying Brendan’s reply.

  95. injasan Says:

    Spot on, fixed it, many thanks

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  97. Xelio Cheong Says:

    This fix the problem, thanks!

  98. Firdaus Says:

    thank you very much, this is work for me

  99. sermann Says:

    Thanks, fixed the issue for me.

  100. Lee Says:

    Good fix. thanks alot

  101. anthonysabia@verizon.net Says:


  102. BJ Says:

    This is more useful than the actual Microsoft explaination (which did not work for me) they say go to the Advanced tab to fix it,,, when your suggestion of the Modify tab & remove Outlook worked like a charm!!! thanks so much. back to work =D

  103. SD Says:

    It worked. Can search my archives again. Thank you!!

  104. Kazer Says:

    Give you very big hand.
    You are the man!!!!

  105. Ibrahim Says:

    thanks bro very usefull

  106. Francisco Says:

    Simple and effective.
    You’re the real MVP man!

  107. tomayre89 Says:

    Thank you so much!!!

  108. dieanderou Says:

    I have been going of my mind, didn’t know about the file attributes, thank you very much.

  109. davidlub Says:

    Just to add my thanks. Never could have solved this alone

  110. Balaji Says:

    When i click on search, i used to see the from and to boxes below to the search box, unfortunately i reinstalled my system and now that options are not coming in outlook 2013. could u pls help me on that.

  111. Magnus Says:

    Worked perfect! Thank you 🙂

  112. John Says:

    Thanks this this worked for me. outlook search is working fine for me now.

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  114. Pradeep Says:

    Did exactly and worked perfectly. Many Thanks for the post.

  115. Bart Says:

    1000 Thnx, i was searching for a solution for quite some time. others didn’t worked but this did the trick! thnx again

  116. TIM Says:

    10^10^10 Thanks 🙂

  117. Ralph Whitaker Says:

    You finally gave me something that worked! Windows 10 install had apparently modified this option on my files. Thanks for the fix!!!

  118. Olga Says:

    We could sew three sides of the hole nicely, but the machine stitched too quickly to make a nice fourth side.

  119. Jose Peito Says:

    It worked with me. Thank you so much for making available this information.

  120. Mshelbayah Says:

    worked perfectly, Thank you…

  121. Tuan Says:

    Successed! Many thanks to author!

  122. huw price Says:

    Thank you!

    Worked perfectly on Windows 7, Outlook 2010, with the .pst file on a network drive.

    The key ingredient I had been missing until now was the “Allow this file to have contents indexed in addition to file” checkbox…

    Been driving me nuts at work for months!


  123. Scott Says:

    Genius…can I send you ALL of my computer issues as they come up?

  124. maxrebo Says:

    absolute Genius… thanks !!!!

  125. Steve Says:

    You are the best. I love you! This worked like a charm.

  126. desh Says:

    this is superb fix…worked as a charm

  127. Antonio Says:

    Worked for me…after going back and forth on other websites. Thanks

  128. Faazi Says:

    It really works.. Thanks a lot

  129. Pat Says:

    What finally worked for me was to change the time for the computer to sleep to a large number – 5 hours. The system re-indexed my large outlook files. You can reset that under the Control Panel/Power options. I previously tried the manual re-indexing commands described above and they did not work or only worked partially – The search would work for messages only after certain dates.

  130. Jiptwoka Says:

    I have spent 30 hours with this, trying absolutely everything. NOTHING works. I can not search for all mails, many new(?) mails are not included in the search results. I’m giving up. This is one of the most important features of an email application and it not only doesn’t work but the subject is completely convoluted and whole Outlook is horrible and each version is slower and worse than the previous.

  131. Saurabh pratap mishra Says:

    thanks buddy. keep it up.

  132. Nushan Says:

    Thanks a lot, Its very Useful guide

  133. Al atawi Says:

    السلام عليكم لدي مشكلة في برنامج السناب وهيا انني أرغب في تسجيل الدخول برقم هاتفي وتخرج لدي ملاحظه لا يمكننا التحقيق من رقمك عليك المحاولة برقم هاتف اخر فيدوني بليز ساعدوني

  134. Ashok Says:

    Thank you very much. Really its useful keep it up.

  135. Nogo Says:

    Didn’t work here what a nightmare

  136. ilbey Says:

    hello everyone .. I did it and its work. but a few time ago again crashed and didnt work 😦 .. I’m so dissapared. I try many way but always same result. Anyone have different option ?


  137. JM Says:

    After dealing with this issue for a few months, the indexing finally started working again. I believe what I did was click View-Reset View. Good luck!

  138. hassam Says:

    Thank you so much. You have no idea what a lifesaver this was.

  139. Hope Says:

    It’s actually a nice and useful piece of information. I am glad that
    you shared this helpful info with us. Please keep
    us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

  140. Miker Says:

    Your clear directions worked perfectly for me. On behalf of all suffering Outlook users, I am recommending you for the Presidential Medal of Freedom for your service.

    Thank You

  141. kpc Says:

    Thakn you man! Microsoft could have just let us know….anyway, thank you again.

  142. Vijay Says:

    Super useful. Thank you so much for sharing.

  143. ErikR Says:

    Thanks, saved me so much frustration.

  144. Metal bong Downpipes Says:

    Metal bong Downpipes

    Outlook 2013 Search Not Working | Stuff I Found Useful

  145. office + win | khuong.wordpress.com Says:

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  146. Kelly Says:

    Hooray! Thank you. 🙂 I have my search back !!

  147. John Says:

    Thanks! This was very helpful!

  148. JG Says:

    Thanks – Another satisfied customer.

  149. yoshimano Says:

    Hey, thanks a lot for your helpful advice regarding this matter! Way more helpful than MS help pages?.

  150. Lee AU Says:

    Another solution found to the issue of the Indexing Status screen not loading & Windows Indexing appearing to have frozen in Windows 10 – possibly also Win 8/8.1;
    * Run services.msc using Run command in Start Menu.
    * Find Windows Search
    * Use Stop to stop indexing, change to Manual if on Automatic, then change back to Automatic and select Start again
    * Close out of services.msc

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