Fix: Search Not Working in Outlook 2010

If searching in Microsoft’s Outlook 2010 is not returning results or the results are not what you expected, probably the indexing of the data file is corrupted or incomplete. The instant search feature uses indexing services to quickly locate what you are searching for. Now the faulty indexing service can be that of Microsoft’s Outlook, or the Windows own indexing service can also be the culprit here.

We will troubleshoot both the services in this guide in addition to other solutions that worked for many users.

Solution 1: Troubleshooting and Simple Index Rebuilding

Open Outlook, if it’s not already open. Click on File in the upper left corner and then choose Options.

outlook file options

Click on Search tab in the left pane and then choose Indexing Options.

outlook 2010 indexing options

Click on Advanced. Click Yes if the User Account Control warning appears. Click “Troubleshoot search and indexing” in the troubleshooting pane and see if the wizard finds and repairs any issue.

troubleshoot search and indexing

If prompted to chose the problems you experienced, select “all that applies” and click Next. After it finishes, regardless of whether it has found any issues or not, test to see if search starts to work. If not, then from the Advanced menu, click Rebuild.

rebuild outlook search index

Rebuilding will take some time, depending on the size of your data. It will be a good  idea to leave it for a couple of hours, probably 2-3. Then, Restart Outlook and check if the issue is resolved. Otherwise, move on to the next solution.

Solution 2: Rebuilding Microsoft Outlook’s Search Index Manually

Open Outlook, if it’s not already open. Click on File in the upper left corner and then choose Options.  Click on Search tab in the left pane and then choose Indexing Options. (see images in Solution 1).

Click on Modify, and uncheck the currently checked locations. Click OK to confirm. Click Close to exit the Indexing Options window. Reopen the Indexing Options window.


Now check the locations you previously unchecked to rebuild their index again. Click OK to confirm.

It will take some time to rebuild index. Click close once you see the message “Outlook has finished indexing all your items”. Restart Outlook, check to see of the search is returning results. If not, carry on to the next method.

Solution 3: Rebuilding Index of Windows Indexing Services

Hold the Windows Key and Press R. Type appwiz.cpl and click OK.


From the left pane, choose Turn Windows features on or off. Click Yes if the User Account Control Warning appears. A list of features will appear.

turn windows features on or off

Uncheck the Windows Search feature. Click Yes on the warning message that appears and then click OK.

windows search

Now wait for the Windows to make changes to the features, and restart your computer when prompted to do so. After restart, run Microsoft’s Outlook and let the search function get reconfigured. After it’s complete, close Outlook. Once this is done, go back to Turn Windows features on or off using the appwiz.cpl command in run dialog, and turn the the “Windows Search” feature back on. Now wait for the Windows to make changes to the features, and restart your computer when prompted to do so.

After restarting, open Control Panel. Click on “Indexing options“. At the indexing options window, Click “Advanced” button. Click Yes if the UAC prompt appears.


Then click Rebuild to rebuild the index. Click OK when the confirmation window appears and wait until the process is completed. Close Indexing Options window when Indexing is complete.

Wait till Outlook completes its indexing too. To ensure its indexing is complete, click on File in the upper left corner. Click on Options. Click on Search tab in the left pane. Click on Indexing Options. When the indexing is complete, “Indexing is complete” will show up where it is currently showing the count. Restart Outlook, your problem should be resolved now. If not, then move to the next solution.

Solution 4: Turning Instant Search off

Go back to the Indexing Options from Outlook (as done in Solution 1) and choose ModifyUncheck Microsoft Outlook and Click OK. Verify locations of Outlook data files are selected. The small arrow shows the locations of the files, uncheck all, you’ll likely to have more then one if you have different accounts configured here.


After disabling them, close and re-open Outlook and then test. If this doesn’t work, redo the steps to enable the outlook data files to be included. Make sure, they are not left excluded.

Solution 5: Make Sure Indexing Options Are Configured Correctly

Go back to Indexing Options and Click on Advanced. Agree to the UAC prompt if it appears. Select the “File Types” tab. Search for the .msg extension. Make sure it is checked, and “Index Properties and File Contents” is selected under “How this file should be indexed?” Click OK to confirm. Click Close to exit.


Now try searching in outlook.

Solution 6: Repair Microsoft Outlook

Hold the Windows Key and Press R. Type appwiz.cpl and Click OK. Locate your Office or Outlook Program, Click Change and Choose Repair and click continue. Wait for the repair to finish. After Outlook has repaired and refreshed. Check again. If the search function is still not functioning, you’ll have to completely uninstall, reinstall and configure outlook again.

Kevin Arrows
Kevin is a dynamic and self-motivated information technology professional, with a Thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Superior record of delivering simultaneous large-scale mission critical projects on time and under budget.

Expert Tip

Fix: Search Not Working in Outlook 2010

If the issue is with your Computer or a Laptop you should try using Restoro which can scan the repositories and replace corrupt and missing files. This works in most cases, where the issue is originated due to a system corruption. You can download Restoro by clicking the Download button below.

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