Outlook 2010 Search Function not Working

There are a couple of reasons why the Outlook 2010 search function may not be working. One is that the search function could possibly be completely turned off. This is a common problem with people who have updated to Outlook 2010 from older version —during the updating process, the search becomes disabled and all you have to do is enable it again to get it in working order. Here’s how:


  1. Close Outlook completely.
  2. Go to Control Panel > Programs > Programs and Features > Turn Windows Features On or Off.
  3. Make sure there’s a check mark on the Indexing Service check box and then hit OK.
  4. Open Outlook again & check if the search bar is working.

That’s all that needs to be done to get Outlook search working in again. If, for some reason, you go in and find the Outlook 2010 search function still isn’t working, then you’re facing a different kind of indexing issue, which will require an index rebuild.


Corrupted File Causing Outlook 2010 Search Problems?

Before jumping into a full index rebuild though, to solve the Outlook 2010 search problems you should also make sure your Outlook data files aren’t corrupted. Data file corruption can occur over time, and it’s common that the Outlook 2010 Search function stops working because of this corruption. You can use the Inbox Repair Tool to fix any corrupted files, and it’s one of the easier ways to fix the Outlook search function. Search for Scanpst.exe with your desktop search tool, and then run it. If after this process you find that your Outlook 2010 search function is still not working, then rebuilding the index is the obvious next step.


Rebuilding the Index in Outlook 2010

You may need to rebuild the index to solve some of your Outlook 2010 search problems. Here’s what you need to do:

1.     You don’t need to exit out of Outlook 2010, because you can access the indexing options within the program.

2.     Access Indexing options directly from Outlook by going to File > Options > Search (located halfway down the list on the left).

3.     Within the Search section, select Indexing Options.

Outlook Options screenshot

4.     Once the Indexing Options Dialog Box opens, select Advanced. You’ll need to have administration rights to access this.

5.     Click the Rebuild button to start rebuilding your index.

Outlook Index Options window

You will have to allow some time for the Index to be rebuilt. Once Outlook has finished rebuilding the Index, then your Outlook Search problems should be over. If you find that you are still not happy with the results, then you might want to opt for a third party search tool.