How to Fix Outlook Search Not Working Problem On Windows and Mac?

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This article has everything that you need to know Outlook searches not working issue on Windows and Mac. So Irrespective of what version of Outlook you are using whether Outlook 2021, Outlook 2019, Outlook 2016, Outlook 2013, Outlook 2010, or any older version. This write-up discusses various solutions that are proven to fix search in Outlook not working issue on Windows and Mac.

Outlook is one application that not only helps access your emails but also takes care of your meeting schedules, reminders, contacts, to-do list, and other important information. The search is one feature that you can count on to access any of this information quickly.

Without even realizing it, we become so reliant on Outlook search that it can get very annoying when Outlook search stops working. Search can also stop working when Outlook even stops indexing. This could be due to the faulty application or the Outlook data file being corrupted. Here is complete information on how to resolve Outlook Not working issue.

Table Of Contents:

  1. What are The Reasons why the Search function is not Working in Outlook?
  2. How To Know if Search in Outlook not Working?
  3. How To Fix Outlook Search Not Working in Windows?
  4. How To Fix Outlook Search on Mac Not Working?

What Are The Reasons Behind The Outlook Search Function Not Working?

The reasons behind the unresponsive search function in Outlook can be many, right from minor issues including using an out-of-date version of Outlook to disabled index option, inactive search service, and issues in the Outlook application. Problems like these can be fixed manually. If you are unable to fix them manually one of the major reasons can be Outlook PST files getting corrupt. Which makes those files inaccessible to the user and Outlook cannot index them. So, in order to access those files, one must try to repair them.

How Do I know if the Search Function is Not Working in Outlook?

  • Outlook doesn't return searched results.
  • Outlook is not showing any results on the screen.
  • Outlook search didn't find anything matching your query.
  • Outlook search is not returning recent or older emails
  • The search tab is unusable.

In case you have encountered one of the above issues, don’t worry we have got you covered. Below we have mentioned 8 guaranteed ways using which you can fix the search function not working in Outlook.

Important Point: You might be interested to hear how to make boring chores in Outlook more enjoyable. In that case, we advise you to read this article on how to use Quick Parts in Outlook to quicken everyday tasks.

8 Sure-Shot Methods to Fix Search Function not working in Outlook (Windows)

  1. Update Microsoft Outlook
  2. Check the Indexing Status
  3. Enable Outlook Indexing Option
  4. Rebuild Outlook Search Index catalogue
  5. Verify if Search Service is Running
  6. Disable Add-ins in Outlook
  7. Repair Outlook Program with Microsoft Inbuilt Repair Tool
  8. Repair Corrupt Outlook Files

1. Update Microsoft Outlook

Using an Outdated application causes users to face all sorts of glitches and issues.

Updating Outlook may resolve the issue of the search function not working in Outlook.

Follow the steps mentioned below to check for any pending updates.

Step 1: Launch Outlook

Step 2: Click on File Tab, Click on office Account

Step 3: Click on Office Updates, Click on Update Now.

2. Check the Indexing Status To Fix Indexing Not Working in Outlook

One reason why the Search box might not be responding is that Outlook may not have indexed all the mails or items in the data file completely. To check the indexed status follow the steps below.

Fix outlook indexing problem

  • Click on the Search tab in the Outlook application.
  • Select the Search Tools and click on Indexing Status from the drop-down
  • If you don’t see a message stating “Outlook has finished indexing all of your items. 0 items remaining to be indexed”, Wait for a few more minutes so that all the items are indexed completely.

3. Enable Outlook Indexing Option

At times Outlook might have been removed from the list of Indexing items. In order to check and enable the indexing option here is what you need to do.

  • Click on the Start menu, type Indexing Options in the search box, and select the displayed option.

Add MS Outlook to index list to fix search problem

  • In the Indexing Options dialog box, check if Microsoft Outlook is listed under the Index these locations column
  • If Microsoft Outlook is not listed, select Modify, and then click to enable the checkbox next to Microsoft Outlook

Add Outlook to enable outlook search function to work

  • Select OK, and then select Close

Note - If you are wondering how to add or enable the missing Outlook Search Bar, click here.

4. Rebuild Outlook Search Index Catalog

If Outlook is still stuck at indexing, rebuilding the index catalog is one easy way to overcome this issue.

  • Click on the Start menu and type Indexing Options in the search box

Rebuild index to fix Oultook not working problem with Advance Indexing option

  • In the Indexing Options dialog box, select Advanced
  • In the Advanced Options dialog box, select Rebuild and select OK

5. Verify if Search Service is Running

Search service is very important for the Outlook search box to function properly. This option will be enabled by default. However, if the Search service is not running follow the steps below to enable it.

  • Press Windows+R to open the Run window
  • Type services.msc and click OK.

enter service window to repair outlook search problem

  • Find the Windows Search option from the list and double-click on it.

choose windows search to enable outlook search function

  • Under the Startup type select the Automatic (Delayed Start) option if it wasn't selected previously.

Fix Outlook search problem by selecting Automatic start type

  • The Service status should show Running by default, if not, click the Start button below to start the service.

6. Disable Add-ins in Outlook

Add-ins are third-party applications built to boost users’ productivity. Having said that, using outdated or incompatible add-ins can cause havoc. This might result in various types of issues in Outlook including Outlook application not working or responding, Search function-related problems, at times Outlook crash as well.

Follow the steps explained below to disable add-ins.

  • Launch Outlook, Click on the File tab
  • Click on Options, Click on Add-ins from the list
  • A list of all the add-ins including active, inactive, and disabled add-ins will appear on the screen.
  • Select COM Add-ins from the Manage list, click Go
  • Untick the add-ins that you want to disable, Click OK
  • To see the effect of disabling add-ins, Restart the Outlook application

7. Repair Outlook Program with Microsoft Inbuilt Repair Tool

If the above-mentioned troubleshooting steps haven’t worked out, there could be a problem with the Outlook program. You can fix this problem by repairing Outlook with a built-in repair utility.

  • Open Settings from the Start menu and select Apps
  • Under Apps & Features choose Microsoft Office Professional and click on Modify

Repair Outlook to fix search problem

  • Choose Quick Repair from the option to repair Outlook

Repair outlook to fix outlook search function

  • If your problem still persists, choose Online Repair to fix the program

Even after using the above-mentioned steps, if the issue was not resolved then the reason is corrupt Outlook files. Read the next section to know more about Corrupt files and how to repair them.

8. Repair Corrupt Outlook Files in order to Fix unresponsive Outlook Search

Did your Outlook application abruptly close without any prior warning? Or did it take an unusually long time to complete simple tasks such as creating a new Email or performing any other task?

These issues might indicate that your Outlook PST files are corrupt. Below are the two ways that are guaranteed to repair your corrupt Outlook files.

Try fixing Outlook search with SCANPST.exe

SCANPST.exe is an inbuilt Outlook Tool designed to repair data files. Using Scanpst to fix minor corruption is usually a good bet.

Follow the steps mentioned below to know how to use SCANPST.exe.

Firstly, navigate to the SCANPST location and then run the program

Fix Outlook search with scanpst

  • After launching the application, click on Browse and choose the Outlook data file to be repaired (if you cannot find the outlook data file, click on the given link)
  • Next, click on Start
  • If the tool detected any errors it will be displayed, click on Repair to fix the errors.
  • You can try to access your Outlook after PST Repair complete message box appears

Having said that, using scanPST.exe at times becomes tedious and time-consuming. Many users have reported that the tool freezes or stops responding in the middle of the repair process.

If your files are severely corrupt then the only way to fix them is using a powerful PST file repair tool.

Remo Repair Outlook PST- is an advanced PST repair tool that is built to repair severely corrupt or damaged even inaccessible files on all versions of Outlook. Integrated with a read-only mechanism, it makes sure that no harm is done to the damaged PST file during the repair process.

You can try Remo Repair now for free, and Pay when you are satisfied with the result.

recover deleted files from external hard drive on Windows

How To Fix Outlook Search Not Working on Mac?

If you are wondering why the search in Outlook is not working on Mac or MacBook, or why you are unable to search in Outlook Mac. then this section is specifically for you. Also, find out how to resolve the Outlook search on Mac not working issue.

Why is Outlook Search Not Working on Mac?

Following are some of the most common reasons why the Outlook search function might not be working.

  1. Using an Outdated Version of Outlook Application
  2. Using special characters while searching for Emails, or contacts in Outlook
  3. Outlook profile is displayed in the Privacy tab of Spotlight
  4. Spotlight ceased indexing halfway through the indexing process
  5. Outlook profile folder in the incorrect location

Now that you know why your Macbook’s Outlook search is not working.

4 Ways To Resolve Outlook Search Not Working On Mac

Method 1: Check for Any Available Pending Updates in the Outlook  

  • The simplest approach to check for updates if you installed Outlook from Apple's official app store is to click the App Store icon in the Dock and choose Updates from the sidebar.
    check for any pending Outlook updates
  • You are good to proceed if it indicates that there are no Outlook updates available. 
  • Apply any updates that are listed without hesitation.

The Microsoft AutoUpdate utility can be used to automatically check for new build releases and perform updates. Once the tool is listed in Spotlight Search, type "Microsoft AutoUpdate" and hit Enter.

Select "Check for Updates" from the menu. If a pop-up indicates that no updates are available, move on to the following step. Additionally, confirm that the radio button next to "Automatically" is selected. 

Method 2: Look for Any Peculiar or Special Characters in your Outlook profile To Fix the Search Not Working Issue

Outlook search might not work as intended if your profile name contains special characters like an ampersand (&), a forward slash (/), a backslash (), an asterisk (*), an exclamation mark (! ), a hyphen (-), or others. Here’s how to fix that issue.

Step 1: On your Mac, locate the Outlook icon in the Applications folder and then right-click it.

Step 2: Open the Contents folder that appears after choosing the context menu option to Show Package Contents.

Step 3: Next, double-click Outlook Profile Manager in the Shared Support folder.

choose the context menu and select sharedsupport folder

Step 4: Check the name of your Outlook profile in the Outlook Profile Manager window to determine if it contains any special characters, which are essentially any characters other than numbers or letters.

list of all available Outlook profiles

Step 5: If the profile name contains special characters, open the Go menu from the menu bar, select Go to Folder, and put the following folder path into it, Office/Outlook is located under /Library/Group Containers/UBF8T346G9, and then press Enter.

Step 6: Open the Outlook 15 Profiles folder in the resulting folder, then rename your (primary) Outlook profile's folder to something without any special characters. Restart your Mac after that, and then try the Outlook search function once more.

Method 3: Examine the Spotlight’s privacy settings To Get Rid Of Search Not Working in Outlook Mac 

The search results were not found in Outlook. This might arise due to the fact that Spotlight is not permitted to access or index your Outlook profile. If this is the case, then follow the steps mentioned below to fix the issue.

Step 1: Run the Apple Menu option, and find the System Preferences.

Step 2: Click on the Spotlight option followed by clicking on the Privacy option.

find spotlight option under apple menu

If your Outlook profile gets displayed there, select the listed Outlook profile and click on the minus(-) button to remove it from the list. 

remove the displayed outlook profile by clicking on the minus button

Once this is done, close the spotlight settings windows after completing these steps, restart your Mac, open Outlook and check if the search issue has been fixed or not.

Method 4: Resolve the Corrupt Spotlight Index to Fix Outlook Mac search Not Working issue  

If nothing else works then you can try fixing the corrupt Spotlight which results in the incomplete Outlook indexing process. Thereby, making Outlook mac unable to search for emails. 

If this is the issue, follow the below steps to fix the search feature not working in Mac Outlook problem.

Step 1: Restart your Mac and ensure that the Spotlight index services are active.

Step 2: Hold down the CMD (Command) key while pressing Space, type in terminal, then press Enter.

hit the command key and space button and type in terminal

Step 3: Type in mdimport -L command. Next, examine whether more than one Microsoft Outlook Spotlight Importer mdimporter appears. The Outlook profile that you aren't utilizing should be deleted. When finished, delete it from the Trash as well, and restart your Mac. 

Type in mdimport -L command

Step 4: Put in the command mdimport -g "/Applications/Microsoft Outlook Spotlight Importer.mdimporter" -d1 "/Users/user name>/Library/Group Containers/UBF8T346G9.Office/Outlook/Outlook 15 Profiles/my profile name" .

Step 5: kindly replace the user name and my profile name with your computer’s user name and Outlook profile’s name.

Step 6: Re-indexing of Spotlight will take some time. So kindly wait for some time, once the process gets completed. Verify if the search tool is working fine and the Outlook Macos search not working issue has been resolved.


If you have followed the troubleshooting steps mentioned in the write-up, you will definitely resolve the Outlook search problem. If you haven’t been able to solve the issue, kindly let us know your doubts and queries in the comment section below.

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Tony Landry

Tony Landry is a Web Content Editor at Remo Software. He loves to write, edit, and manage content for users trying to troubleshoot and fix problems on Windows, Outlook, storage drives and Cloud storage networks.

He has published more than 200 articles in Remo Software blog. He actively engages in research and problem-solving techniques to consistently generate great web content. Fixing various hardware problems on computer and storage devices along with a great knack for fixing Outlook errors, Tony is also the fun-time IT guy for all his work friends. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and enjoys cycling.

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