On a Windows PC, the Windows search bar is a handy functionality that gives you quick access to the File Explorer, email, documents, and applications.

All you have to do is type in a keyword in the search box to get the results. However, sometimes that Windows Search bar stops working as expected. It might stop showing results when you key in search queries; the search box becomes unresponsive or does not open.

Luckily, if you’re having issues with Windows search, there are various troubleshooting steps you can take. In this article, we’ll walk you through the steps to troubleshoot and fix Windows search not working on your PC.


What Causes Windows Search Problems?

Causes Windows Search Problems

Windows search is an everyday utility that you’ll expect to work efficiently. However, when that does not happen, it is mainly caused by a glitch. You’ll click on the search bar, and nothing happens. Or the search result you get does not match your search query.

These Windows search problems can be anything from network-related issues to Windows update compatibility issues. Whatever the issue you have with Windows search, read on to learn how you can fix it.


There are various methods to fix problems with Windows search. They include:

1. Run the Search Troubleshooter

Windows has a built-in troubleshooting system that you can use to diagnose and fix common issues. Therefore, it should be the first thing you do when fixing Windows search on your PC. Even though it might not solve the problem, it will send you in the right direction to learn more or identify the problem.

To run the search troubleshooter:

Step 1: Open the Start Menu and go to Settings, Click on Update & Security

Step 2: Click on Troubleshoot on the left sidebar

Step 3: Click on Search and indexing followed by Run the Troubleshooter

Run the Search Troubleshooter

Step 4: Check the problems that best describe your issue.

Step 5: Click on Next and follow the onscreen prompts to finish the troubleshooting process.


2. Windows Update

Updating Windows could fix the Windows search not working or be the reason for this feature not working. Therefore, you can either install or remove recently installed updates.

Fix Windows Search by Installing Windows Updates

Your Windows PC needs regular updates to work as expected. Therefore, if you have issues with Windows search, you should update your Windows OS. Quality updates could include fixes for the search functionality. To install Windows updates:

Step 1: Open Settings and select Update and Security

Step 2: Click on Update & Security

Step 3: Click on Windows Update

Step 4: Then select Check for updates

If a Windows update is available, you can install it and your Windows search should start working as expected.

Uninstalling Windows Updates

Even though Windows updates are meant to improve the overall performance of your PC, they could contain bugs that will affect the functionality of your PC. If you recently updated your system and your Windows search stopped working, you should consider uninstalling them. You can remove Windows updates by:

Step 1: Open Settings

Step 2: Click on Update & Security.

Step 3: Select Windows Update.

Step 4: Click the View update history option.

Step 5: Click the Uninstall updates option.

Step 6: Select the latest update installed on your computer.

Step 7: Click the Uninstall button

Step 8: Confirm your selection by clicking the Yes button.

Step 9: Restart your Windows PC.

After the buggy update is uninstalled from your POC, your Windows search should work as expected.


3. Index Settings

When Windows Search stops working, you could have issues with the Index settings. You can either, restart Windows search, reset it or rebuild the index.

By Restarting Windows Search

You should first ensure that Windows search is running and has not been disabled. If it is running, you can restart it. This could solve your Windows search problem. Take the following steps to check whether the Windows Search service is running and restart it:

Step 1: Press Win + R to open the Run command

Step 2: Type in Services.msc then press Ok

Step 3: Scroll down the list of services to find Windows Search

Step 4: If it’s running, right-click on it and then select Restart

Step 5: If it is disabled, right-click on it and select Start

Reset Windows Search

You can also reset the Windows Search to fix the problem. How you reset the Windows search varies depending on which version of Windows your device is running. If you’re running Windows 10 version 1809 and earlier releases, you can reset the search feature by:

Step 1: Open Start

Step 2: Right-click on Cortana

Step 3: Select More

Step 4: Click on the App settings

Step 5: Then select Reset in the Cortana settings.

Reset in the Cortana settings


4. Rebuilding the Index

When your PC has a broken or old index, Windows could forget where your files and folders are. Therefore, you can help it remember your files by rebuilding its index database. You can rebuild the index on your PC by:

Step 1: Open Settings.

Step 2: Click on Search.

Step 3: Click on Searching Windows.

Step 4: Click on Advanced search Indexer Settings.

Searching Windows

Step 5: Click the Advanced button.

Step 6: Then click on the Index Settings tab.

Step 7: Click the Rebuild button under the Troubleshooting section.

Rebuilding the Index

Step 8: Confirm your selection by clicking Ok

Alternatively, you can open Control Panel and then select Indexing Options. Click Advanced then in the Advanced options, Click Rebuild.

Windows will clear and rebuild the index option which might take some time depending on your drive’s size and how full it is. During the rebuilding process, you may receive incomplete search results until all files and folders are indexed.


5. Repair Corrupted System Files

Windows Search will stop working when you have corrupted system files on your computer. Therefore, you can check and repair system files by running the System File Checker to solve the problem. To repair your computer’s system files:

Step 1: Press Win + R on your keyboard to call up the Run dialog.

Step 2: Type cmd.exe into the box.

Step 3: Press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open Command Prompt with Administrative privileges.

Command Prompt with Administrative

Step 4: When User Account Control shows up, click Yes

Step 5: After the Command Prompt opens you can type in sfc /scannow and press Enter.

sfc scannow command

Step 6: After the scan completes, restart your PC

Step 7: If it returns an error, you can type in dism /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth to repair your system file before rebooting your computer.

 dism online cleanup-image


6. Check File Explorer options

In case Windows search returns incomplete search results, you can fix the problem by changing the File Explorer settings. To do this

Step 1: Press Win + E to open File Explorer.

Step 2: Go to the View tab at the top.

Step 3: Click Options then select Change folder and search options.

go-to-change-search-options

Step 4: Navigate to the Search tab.

Step 5: Then tick the Always search file names and contents option.

Always search file names and contents option

Even though your search will take a bit longer you’ll receive complete results.


Conclusion

Windows Search is a useful utility that allows you to find virtually anything on your computer. That’s why it is very frustrating when it suddenly stops working. If you’re having problems with Windows search, you can try any of our troubleshooting tips to get your Windows Search working again.