Fix: Windows 10 Search Not Working

Windows 10 is here for almost two years. There is a lot of improvements in regards to previous operating systems, from Windows XP, which is unfortunately still available, to Windows 8.1. Some of change which we will mention in this article is Windows Search. User interface is redesigned and improved by functionality. Successor of Windows Explorer is File Explorer. As in previous operating systems, you can search files using two ways, one is to open Windows Explorer or File Explorer and search files through Search box, and second option is to click Start menu and type what you want to find. Searching files, applications or some Windows settings is daily activities we are doing. If you have a bunch of data at your hard drive and you want to access one file, you can find it in few seconds. But before you search files, they need to be indexed. An indexed files allow random and fast access through Windows Search. Indexing of files is here since Windows NT 4.0 and it is crucial action you need to take if you do not want to have a problem with searching files, including slow search and search which is not working. In case your Windows Search is not working you will need much more time to find location of file, which will decrease your productivity. Some users are using third party software to search files in Windows. We will not recommened you third party software as solution, we will give you proper fix for this issue.

But before we explain you how to solve this issue, it is important to know why this problem occurred? By user experience and Microsoft documentation problem can occurred by few reasons including problem with search processes and services, problem with Cortana, indexing problems, SYSTEM permission issue and user profile corruption.

Method 1: Restart your Windows 10

First step in troubleshooting IT problems is to restart devices. Regardin this, we are recommending you to restart your Windows 10. You need to right click on Start menu, choose Shut down or sign out and then choose Restart.

Method 2: Check Windows Search service

One of the reason why Windows Search is not working is problem with Windows Search services, which you can solve by resetting or starting service.

  1. Hold Windows key and press R
  2. Type services.msc and click OK

  3. Navigate to Windows Search service. In case Windows Search service is running you will see Running status in Status column.
  4. Right click on Window Search service and click Properties to configure startup type
  5. Under Startup type click Automatic and then click Start

  6. Click Apply and then OK

NOTE: In case Windows Search services was running, you can restart him by following Step 4, instead of clicking Properties, you need to click Restart.

  1. Try to search files by pressing Windows key and typing name of the file, application or settings you want to find

Method 3: Turn off Cortana and Search

There are two Windows processes which are responsible for searching files, applications or settings in Windows 10, Search and Cortana. Search provides searching files, application and settings in real time, you do not need to browse folders to find and run something. Cortana is virtual assistant integrated in Windows 8 and Windows 10,  which you can activate using your voice, and which can help you to search files, applications and settings in your Windows 10. If you want to solve issues with search, you need to kill both processes using steps as following:

  1. Right click on Taskbar and then click Task Manager
  2. If Task Manager is opened showing Fewer details, you need to click More details, at the bottom left corner.
  3. Under Processes tab, you need to find and select process named Cortana
  4. Right click on Cortana and then click End task

  5. Next, under Processes tab, you need to find and select process named Search
  6. Right click on Search and then click End task

  7. Try to search files by pressing Windows key and typing name of the file, application or settings you want to find

Method 4: Re-register Cortana

If killing process which is using Cortana didn’t solve problem with Windows Search, next step is to re-register Cortana, using next steps:

  1. Hold Windows key and press X
  2. Click to File Explorer
  3. Navigate to following location: C:\Windows\System32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\
  4. Right click on powershell.exe and click Run as administrator
  5. Type the following command

Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register “$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml”}

  1. Try to search files by pressing Windows key and typing name of the file, application or settings you want to find

Method 5: Assign SYSTEM permissions to folders

You need to configure permissions for folder and content. Most folders already have this, but there are some cases where a folder might be missing the SYSTEM permission. The same solution can help you to solve problem with previous operating systems, too. Steps are described in text below.

There are few steps you need to do:

  1. Right click to the folder you want to index and then click Properties
  2. Click Security tab
  3. Below the Group and user names click Edit
  4. Click Add

  5. Under Enter the object names to select (examples) type SYSTEM and click Check Names. You will assing SYSTEM permission to folder which can be searched through Windows Search.
  6. Click OK
  7. Under the Permissions for SYSTEM, in Allow section select permissions: Read & Execute, List folder contents and Read

  8. Click Apply and then OK

Method 6: Rebuild index

If you have problem with slow search and search which is not working, Microsoft is recommending rebuild the Windows Search index. It will take a while to finish procedure, but it’s worth it. Please note that search will not work until process of rebulding index is complete. You can continue to use your computer, rebuilding of index file will not impact on that.

There are few steps you need to do, as following:

  1. Click Start menu and type Indexing Options

  2. Click Advanced at the bottom of window
  3. Click Rebuild

  4. New dialog box with open with text: Rebuilding the index might take a long time to complete. Some views and search results might be incomplete until rebuilding is finished. You need to click OK.
  5. Wait until indexing is complete and click Close
  6. Click Start menu and type file you’re looking for

Method 7: Re-create UsrClass.dat

Sometimes your user profile can be corrupted and you will need to create new user profile or preconfigure current user profile. User profiles are stored at system partition, in folder Users. By default Windows 10 is installed on a C:\ partition, which you can access by opening This PC. There is a file named UsrClass.dat which stores user profile information. Because of issue with this file, we will rename him from UsrClass.dat to UsrClass.dat.old. Next time, when computer boots Windows 10, Windows will create new UsrClass.dat file, which will not have any corruption with user profile. Before doing any changes to your user profile which has problem with Windows search, you need to log on to another user profile with Administrator privilege. In case you do not have user profile with Administrator privilege, you will need to create another user profile with Administrator privilege. That means that you can not do any changes with user profile you are currently using.

We will explain you how to create new user account with Administrator privilege. In case you already have user account with Administrator privilege, please continue from Step 9.

  1. Hold Windows key and press I

  2. Click on Accounts and then choose Family & other people at the left side of a window
  3. Under Other people click to Add someone else to this PC to create new user account. If you are not connected to Internet continue from Step 6, because we will create local user profile
  4. At the bottom click I don‘t have this person’s sign-in information

  5. Again, at the bottom click Add a user without a Microsoft account

  6. Under Who’s going to use this PC? type User name, for example John and then click Next

  7. Click on new user account (John) and then choose Change account type

  8. Under Account type choose Administrator and then click OK

  9. Sign out from current user account. You need to right click on Start menu, choose Shut down or sign out and then choose Sign out. You will sign out from user account which is having problem with Windows search. Next step is to log on to created user account which has Administrator privilege
  10. At the bottom left corner switch to new account, in our case John, and then click Sign in

  11. Hold Windows key and press X

  12. Click File Explorer
  13. On the Ribbon bar click View and then select Hidden items to show hidden files and folders, including Appdata and UsrClass.dat

  14. At the left side of File Explorer, in Navigation pane, choose This PC and then open system partition, Local Disk (C:)

  15. Open folders as following Users\AccountName\Appdata\Local\Microsoft\Windows, where AccountName is the name of user profile which has problem with Windows search. Please note that is not user account we created in previous steps
  16. Right click on dat and then click Rename

  17. Change UsrClass.dat to UsrClass.dat.old

  18. Sign out from current user account. You need to right click on Start menu, choose Shut down or sign out and then choose Sign out. You will sign out from new user account we created and used for doing changes with old user account which has problem with Windows search. Next step is to log on to old user account.
  19. Switch to old account. If you are using password, type your password and then click Sign in. In case you are not using password, just click Sign in. Because we renamed UsrClass.dat to UsrClass.dat.old, Windows 10 will create new UsrClass.dat file.
  20. Try to search files by pressing Windows key and typing name of the file, application or settings you want to find
  21. If you are happy, because Windows Search is working, next step is to delete account we created in previous steps. You need to hold Windows key and press I, which will open Windows Settings.
  22. Click Accounts and then choose Family & other people
  23. Under Other people select new account and then click Remove
  24. Select Delete Account and data

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: Windows 10 Search Not Working

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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