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How to fix search problems in Windows 10

How to fix search problems in Windows 10
December 17, 2019

How to fix search problems in Windows 10

Search on Windows 10 refuses to work? Here are five sets of instructions to resolve the most common problems with the Windows Search feature.


On Windows 10, Windows Search is an essential feature that allows you to find virtually anything on your computer (such as documents, pictures, videos, system files, apps, emails, and settings) very quickly. Also, thanks to its integration with Bing search, you can use the feature for quick access to web pages and answers to common questions from the result preview.
Although search is a useful functionality that we take for granted every day, it'll come the time when it'll stop working as intended. For example, sometimes, search queries will show none or incomplete results. The search box in the taskbar will turn unresponsive or won't open at all, and more.
Whatever the reason it may be, if you're having problems with Windows Search on Windows 10, there are several troubleshooting steps you can follow to resolve the most common issues, including when your device received a buggy update that breaks the experience.
In this Windows 10 guide, we'll walk you through the steps to troubleshoot and fix problems with the search feature on your device.
  • How to fix search using Troubleshooter
  • How to fix search using restart option
  • How to fix search using reset option
  • How to fix search using Index Settings
  • How to fix search using Windows Update



How to fix search using Troubleshooter

If you're having problems searching on Windows 10 and restarting your device doesn't resolve the problem, then you can use the Troubleshooter settings to diagnose and fix the most common issues. And you can perform this task from the Settings app or Command Prompt.

Repairing search with Settings

To fix the search functionality with the Settings app, use these steps:
  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Update & Security.
  3. Click on Troubleshoot.
  4. Under the "Find and fix other problems" section, select the search and Indexing option.
  5. Click the Run the troubleshooter button.


  6. Check the problems that best describe your situation — for example, Files don't appear in search results option.

    Search and Indexing troubleshooting

  7. Click the Next button.
  8. Continue with the on-screen directions (if applicable).

    Search and Indexing fix complete

Once you complete the steps, the search feature should start working again on your computer.

Repairing search with Command Prompt

Alternatively, you can also start the Troubleshooter using Command Prompt:
  1. Use the Windows key + R keyboard shortcut to open the Run command.
  2. Type the following command and click the OK button:
    cmd
  3. Type the following command to launch the troubleshooter and press Enter:
    msdt -ep WindowsHelp id SearchDiagnostic


  4. Click the Advanced option.
  5. Check the Apply repairs automatically option.

    Search and Indexing troubleshooter

  6. Click the Next button.
  7. Check the problems that best describe your situation.

    Search and Indexing troubleshooter

  8. Click the Next button.
  9. Continue with the on-screen directions (if applicable).
After you complete the steps, the Search and Indexing troubleshooter will scan and fix the most common problems with the feature.

How to fix search using restart option

You can also restart the Windows 10 process that controls the search elements using these steps:
  1. Right-click the taskbar and select the Task Manager option.
    Quick tip: Alternatively, you can open Task Manager using the Ctrl + Shift + Esc keyboard shortcut or using the Ctrl + Alt + Del shortcut and selecting the Task Manager item.
  2. Click the Details tab.
  3. Right-click the SearchUI.exe process and select the End task button.

    Restart Windows Search

  4. Click the End process button.
Once you complete the steps, the process should restart automatically. If it doesn't restart immediately, reboot your computer, and then confirm if the search has been fixed.

How to fix search using reset option

If Windows Search still not working on Windows 10, then you may be able to fix the problem by resetting the feature. However, the reset process will depend upon the version of the OS currently installed on your computer.

Checking Windows 10 version

To determine the version of Windows 10, use these steps:
  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Devices.
  3. Click on About.
  4. Under the "Windows Specifications" section, confirm the version of Windows 10.

    About settings page

After you complete the steps, you'll know the version of Windows 10 running on the computer.

Reset search on Windows 10 version 1903

If your device is running Windows 10 version 1903, May 2019 Update, then to reset the search feature, use these steps:
  1. Open Microsoft Download center website.
  2. Click the Download button under the Reset Windows search PowerShell script section.
  3. Save the .ps1 file to your computer — for example, in the "Downloads" folder.
  4. Right-click the Start button, and select the Windows PowerShell (Admin) option.
    Quick tip: Alternatively, you can also open PowerShell using the Windows key + R keyboard shortcut, typing the PowerShell command, and using the Ctrl + Shift + Enter shortcut to trigger the command as administrator.
  5. Type the following command to determine current script execution setting and press Enter:
    Get-ExecutionPolicy
  6. Confirm the execution policy — for example, Restricted.
  7. Type the following command to allow scripts to run on your device and press Enter:
    Set-ExecutionPolicy -Scope CurrentUser -ExecutionPolicy Unrestricted
  8. Type Y and press Enter (if applicable).
  9. Type the following command to run the script and press Enter:
    & "C:\Users\YOUR-ACCOUNT-FOLDER\Downloads\ResetWindowssearchBox.ps1"
    In the command, make sure to replace "YOUR-ACCOUNT-FOLDER," for your account folder name.
  10. Type R and press Enter.
  11. Type the following command to set the original execution policy the script and press Enter:
    Set-ExecutionPolicy -Scope CurrentUser -ExecutionPolicy Restricted

    PowerShell reset Windows Search

    In this example, the Restricted option was added, because it was the original setting. If you had a different policy, make sure to change it before running the command.
  12. Type Y and press Enter.
Once you complete the steps, search should start working as before.

Reset search on Windows 10 version 1809

If your device is running Windows 10 version 18069, October 2018 Update, or an earlier release, then to reset the search feature, use these steps:
  1. Open Start.
  2. Right-click Cortana from the "All apps" list.
  3. Select the More option.
  4. Click the App settings option.

    Cortana context menu

  5. Click the Reset button.

    Cortana reset option
After you complete the steps, the reset process should fix the problem, and the search box in the taskbar should work as expected.

How to fix search using Index Settings

The indexing feature can also cause problems that can prevent returning search results on your device.
If you have tried all the previous instructions, you can try rebuilding the index database to fix search problems on Windows 10.
To rebuild the search index on your device, use these steps:
  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Search.
  3. Click on Searching Windows.
    Quick tip: If you're using Windows 10 version 1809 or earlier, open Control Panel, click the View by menu in the top-right corner, and select the Large icons view, and click the Indexing Options to continue.
  4. Click the Advanced search Indexer Settings option.

    Search settings

    Quick tip: In the case that search does not return results for contents from a particular folder, it's also a good idea to check the "Excluded Folders" section as search will ignore the contents of any folder in this list. If the folder you want to search is part of the excluded list, select it, and click the Remove button.
  5. Click the Advanced button.

    Indexing Options

  6. Click the Index Settings tab.
  7. Under the "Troubleshooting" section, click the Rebuild button.

    Index Settings

  8. Click the OK button.
Once you complete the steps, Windows 10 will clear and rebuild the index database. However, while the database is rebuilding, searches from the taskbar, File Explorer, and across the OS might be incomplete until all the files are indexed again.

Restarting Windows Search

In the rare case that you see searches without results, and you can't access the Indexing settings, then the Windows Search service may be disabled on your computer.
To enable the indexing and search service, use these steps:
  1. Use the Windows key + R keyboard shortcut to open the Run command.
  2. Type the following command and click the OK button:
    services.msc
  3. Double-click the Windows Search service.

    Services

  4. Click on the General tab.
  5. Use the "Startup type" menu and select the Automatic (Delayed Start) option.

    Windows Search service

  6. Click the Start button.
  7. Click the Apply button.
  8. Click the OK button.
After you complete the steps, Windows Search will enable on your computer, and you should be able to start searching for files and apps for taskbar and File Explorer again.

How to fix search using Windows Update

On Windows 10, quality updates can include fixes for the search functionality, but they can also be the reason for the feature to break.

Fixing search installing update

If you haven't updated Windows 10 for a while, perhaps the latest update may include a fix for Windows Search.
To update Windows 10 to the latest release, use these steps:
  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Update & Security.
  3. Click on Windows Update.
  4. Click the Check for updates button.

    Windows Update

  5. Click the Restart now button.
After you complete the steps, the latest maintenance update should resolve any search problems on your computer.

Fixing search removing update

Although Microsoft strives to release updates to improve the overall experience of Windows 10, sometimes a buggy update may do its way onto devices breaking features, such as search.
If you suspect that a recent update is the reason that Windows Search search is broken, then use these steps to remove it:
  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Update & Security.
  3. Click on Windows Update.
  4. Click the View update history option.

    Windows Update history option

  5. Click the Uninstall updates option.


  6. Select the latest update installed on your computer.
  7. Click the Uninstall button.

    Uninstall Windows 10 updates
  8. Click the Yes button.
  9. Restart the device.
Once you complete the steps, the problematic update will be removed from Windows 10, fixing any search problems, and the same update shouldn't download and install automatically until the company releases a follow-up release.


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