Windows 11 Search Bar Not Working? Try these fixes

So far, the Search Bar on Windows 11 is kind of hit and miss. Some early adopters are angry about the fact that they can’t type anything into the search bar, while others complain that their installed apps aren’t showing up in the results.

Windows Search not working on Windows 11

As it turns out, there are several different underlying scenarios that might end up breaking the search functionality on Windows 11. Here’s a list of potential culprits that might be responsible for this error code:

  • Windows Search service is Disabled – If you’re using a 3rd party resource manager, you might find that it ends up disabling the search service in an attempt to make your Windows perform faster. If this scenario is applicable, you should be able to resolve the issue by accessing the Services utility and enable or restart the Windows Search Service.
  • Bad KB5003173 Windows Update installation – As it turns out, a bad windows update can also be responsible for breaking the search functionality on Windows 11. In this case, the fix is to uninstall the badly installed windows update in order to force your OS to clean install it again.
  • System file corruption – System file corruption is yet another possibility that might effectively break the search bar. A few users have confirmed that in their case, running SFC and DISM scans in quick succession allowed them to fix their search bar behavior.
  • The On-Screen Keyboard service is Disabled – If you’re only experiencing issues with the search functionality on Windows 11 while using the on-screen keyboard, the issue is almost always related to the Touch Keyboard and Handwriting Panel service. In this case, the issue can be fixed by modifying the default behavior of this service and configuring a custom behavior for situations in which there are Subsequent failures.
  • Corrupted Windows 11 profile – Unfortunately, Windows 11 is just as prone to user accounts getting corrupted as previous versions. According to some affected users, this can also affect the search functionality on your Windows 11. The fix, in this case, is to simply create a new account.

Now that you are familiar with every potential reason that might affect the search functionality on Windows 11, let’s go over all the fixes that affected users have successfully used to resolve the issue.

Enable or Restart the Windows Search Service

If you find the search function on Windows 11 to be unresponsive or you find it very inaccurate, it’s probably because the main service behind it (Windows Search) is disabled or stuck in a limbo state.

This problem is typically amplified by a 3rd party system resource manager app that tries to improve the performance of the system by disabling every non-critical OS service.

If you suspect this scenario might be applicable, you should be able to fix the issue entirely by accessing the Services screen and ensuring that the Windows Search service is enabled. If it is, you’ll need to restart it.

Follow the instructions below to enable or restart the Windows Search Service:

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. Inside the text box that just appeared, type ‘services.msc’ and press Enter to open up the Services screen. When you’re prompted by the User Account Control, click Yes to grant administrative privileges.
    Opening up the Services screen
  2. Once you’re inside the Services screen, move to the right-hand pane, scroll down through the list of services and locate Windows Search.
  3. After you locate Windows Search, right-click on it and choose Properties from the context menu.
    Open the Properties screen of Windows Search
  4. Once you’re inside the Properties screen of Windows Search, select the General tab from the ribbon menu at the top.
  5. Next, change the Startup type to Automatic (Delayed Start) and click on Start if the service is currently disabled.
    Restarting the Windows Search service

    Note: If the service is already running, click on Stop to temporarily disable it and wait for a couple of seconds before launching it again via the Start button.

  6. Use the search functionality to see if the problem is now resolved.

If you’re still facing the same kind of issues, move down to the next potential fix below.

Reinstall the KB5003173

As it turns out, you can also expect to face this type of issue with the search functionality on Windows 11 due to a bad update.

Looking at the various reports of this issue, it’s clear that the problem is almost always beginning to occur after the installation of the KB5003173 update.

Most commonly, you’ll be faced with this issue if there’s an unexpected interruption while the KB5003173 update is installing or if your PC ends up entering hibernation while the update is installing in the background.

Fortunately, if you find yourself in this particular scenario the fix is simple – You’ll need to uninstall the KB5003173 update in order to allow your Windows 11 installation to reinstall it from scratch.

To make matters easier for you, we’ve created step-by-step instructions throughout the whole thing. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. Next, type ‘appwiz.cpl’ and press Enter to open up the Programs and Features menu on Windows 11.
    Open up the Programs and Features menu
  2. If you’re prompted by the User Account Control, click Yes to grant admin access.
  3. Once you’re inside the Programs and Features menu, use the vertical menu on the left to click on View installed updates.
    Open the Installed Update category
  4. Once you’re inside the Installed Update screen, move over to the right-hand side menu and locate the KB5003173 update.
  5. When you locate it, right-click on it and choose Uninstall from the context menu that just appeared.
    Uninstalling the KB5003173 update
  6. At the confirmation prompt, click Yes and wait until the operation is complete.
  7. Once the uninstallation of the KB5003173 update is complete, restart your computer and wait until Windows 11 boots back up.
  8. Next, press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. Next, type ‘ms-settings:windowsupdate’ inside the text box and press Enter to open up the Windows Update tab of the Settings app.
    Open the Windows Update screen
  9. Inside the Windows Update tab, move over to the right-hand menu and click on Check for Updates.
    Checking for new updates
  10. After the initial scan is complete, Windows 11 should detect that the KB5003173 update is missing and will ask you if you want to install it. When this happens, click Install Now and wait for the installation to complete.
  11. Once the problematic update is reinstalled, reboot your PC one more time and see if the search functionality is fixed once the next startup is complete.

If this method was not effective in your case, move down to the next potential fix below.

Run SFC and DISM scans via Windows Terminal

It’s not uncommon to face this kind of issue due to some kind of system file corruption that is affecting some Search Bar dependencies. Keep in mind that Windows 11 is still just available for Windows Insiders, so bugs like this are to be expected.

Fortunately, you can resolve the vast majority of system file corruption instances on Windows 11 by using the new Windows Terminal app to run SFC (System File Checker) and DISM (Deployment Image Servicing and Management) in quick succession.

Note: DISM uses Windows Update to download healthy files to replace the corrupted system file equivalents. SFC, on the other hand, uses a locally stored archive to fetch healthy files in case corrupted files are discovered.

If you haven’t tried running an SFC or DISM scan yet, follow the instructions below to learn how to it on Windows 11:

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. Next, type ‘wt’ inside the text box and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open up the Windows Terminal app with admin access.
    Opening up the Windows terminal app

    Note: If you’re prompted by the User Account Control, click Yes to grant administrative privileges.

  2. Once you’re inside the Windows Terminal app, type the following command and press Enter to initiate an SFC scan:
    sfc /scannow

    Note: This operation might take over 1 hour depending if you’re using a traditional HDD or a newer SSD.

  3. After the SFC scan is finished, type the following commands in order and press Enter after each one to initiate a DISM scan on your Windows 11 PC:
    DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /CheckHealth
    DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /ScanHealth
    DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth
  4. Wait until the DISM scan is complete, reboot your Windows 11 PC, and see if the search functionality is now fixed.

If you’re still unable to search for items on Windows 11, move down to the next method below.

Enable the On-Screen Keyboard Service (if applicable)

If you’re only having issues with the Search bar on Windows 11 when attempting to use the On-Screen keyboard, there’s a very big chance that the issue is related to a badly configured service (Touch Keyboard and Handwriting Panel Service).

If this scenario is applicable to your current situation, you should be able to get the issue resolve swiftly by using the Services utility to modify the current behavior of the Touch Keyboard and Handwriting Panel Service.

What you need to do is change the Startup type to Automatic and change the Subsequent failures behavior to Restart the service.

Follow the instructions below to learn how to do this directly from the Services screen:

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. Next, type ‘services.msc’ and press Enter to open up the Services screen.
    Open up the Services screen
  2. At the User Account Control, click Yes to grant admin access.
  3. Inside the Services screen, move over to the right-hand pane, scroll down through the list of services and locate the Touch Keyboard and Handwriting Panel Service.
  4. Next, right-click on the Touch Keyboard and Handwriting Panel Service service and choose Properties from the context menu.
    Open it the Properties screen
  5. Inside the Properties screen of Touch Keyboard and Handwriting Panel Service, access the General tab and change the Startup type to Automatic.

    Set Startup type to Automatic
  6.  Next, click on the Recovery tab from the ribbon menu at the top.
  7. From the Recovery tab, change the Subsequent failures drop-down menu to Restart the Service.
    Changing the Subsequent Failure behavior
  8. Next, set the Reset fail count after to 0 and hit Apply to enforce all the changes.
  9. Finally, return to the General tab and click on the Start button (under Service status) to start the service.
  10. Attempt to use the search function on Windows 11 once again and see if the problem is now resolved.

If the problem is still not fixed, move down to the final method below.

Create a new Windows 11 User

As it turns out, this particular issue can also be facilitated by some type of corruption affecting the current user account.

If you’re still experiencing issues with the search functionality on Windows 11 and none of the other fixes above have worked for you, one last resort solution is to create a new Windows User account in order to eliminate the corrupted dependencies.

Note: If you connect with the same Microsoft account after the new user is created, nothing will really change since your settings & other preferences will be migrated over to the new user.

Follow the instructions below to create a new Windows 11 User in order to resolve the search functionality glitch on Windows 11:

  1. Press Windows key + I to open up the Settings menu on Windows 11.
  2. Next, use the vertical menu on the left to click on Accounts. In case the vertical menu is not visible, click on the action icon (three-dot icon in the top-left corner of the screen).
  3. Inside the Accounts tab, move over to the right-hand side menu and click on Family & other users.
    Accessing the Family & Other users menu on Windows 11
  4. Next, from the same right-hand side menu, click on the Add Account button associated with Add Other Users (under Other Users).
    Adding a new account
  5. Next, enter the email associated with your Microsoft account if you want to create a new user that will keep your current settings and preferences, and press next to proceed by inserting your password.
    Creating a new Windows account

    Note: If you want to create a local account instead, click on the I don’t know this person’s sign-in information, then click on Add a user without a Microsoft account. 

  6. Finally, click Next one final time and wait until the new user is created.
  7. Restart your computer and log in with the newly created user account to see if the search functionality has been resolved.
Kamil Anwar
Kamil is a certified MCITP, CCNA (W), CCNA (S) and a former British Computer Society Member with over 9 years of experience Configuring, Deploying and Managing Switches, Firewalls and Domain Controllers also an old-school still active on FreeNode.

Expert Tip

Windows 11 Search Bar Not Working? Try these fixes

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