Outlook Instant Search Not Working in Windows – Troubleshooting the Issue

admin | October 23rd, 2017 | Windows Outlook

Microsoft has provided many different ways to search within Outlook mailbox items like emails, contacts, calendar, tasks etc. One can search within a cluttered Inbox and find results within seconds. This is the instant search feature of Microsoft Outlook for Windows. However, many users complain of Outlook instant search not working. This post describes all the steps necessary to fix this problem. It provides multiple solutions to repair indexing and search within Outlook 2010, 2013 or 2016 mailbox.

So, before proceeding further with the solutions to troubleshoot "Microsoft Outlook 2010 instant search not working in Windows" error. Lets discuss about the Instant Search in Outlook.

Outlook Instant Search – A Quick Glance

This is the default means of searching a mailbox item from the offline data saved on the Windows PC. It allows searches within items based on a particular keyword or phrase. Outlook then searches through cached data or displays them. Often users fee that their instant search not working in Outlook 2016. It may be because of corruption or some kind error in the data file(.pst). It can also be an indexing error causing preventing items from being searched and displayed.

Following are some of the ways that instant searching can be used to find items in an Outlook profile:

Instant Search in Outlook 2013

  1. To find an email message, go to the navigation bar and select Mail option.


  3. Next, select the Inbox folder and type in the phrase or keyword in the search box.


  5. The search results will be displayed through the instant search on Outlook.


  7. Use the Search toolbar, to Refine results or change the Scope of the searching.


  9. Finally, click the X sign next to keyword search box or click the Close Search button.

Retrieve Archived Items in Outlook

  1. First, go to Home >> New Items >> More Items >> Outlook Data File.


  3. Then, Browse to the folder location where the Archive.pst file is saved.


  5. From the Outlook Navigation pane, select the Archive header. Expand it to view and browse through subfolders.


  7. Use instant search in Outlook, to search for items in an archive PST file.

Methods to Fix Outlook Instant Search Not Working

Following are some of the common ways used to fix an issue with the instant searching in Outlook 2010, 2013, 2016:

Solution 1: Fix Instant Search Not Working in Microsoft Outlook

Step 1: Verify Whether PST File is Being Indexed
In Outlook 2007 and 2011:

  1. In Outlook 2007, go to Tools >> Options >> Search Options and choose the data file that needs to be searched.
    In Outlook 2010, go to File >> Options.


  3. From the Outlook Options dialogue box, select Search tab.
  4. Then, click on the Indexing Options button to fix instant search not working in Outlook 2016.


  6. From the Indexing Options dialogue box, click on the Modify button.
  7. From the Indexed locations, expand Microsoft Office Outlook to search for the Archive PST file.

    In Outlook 2013 and 2016:

  9. Go to File >> Options to fix instant search not working in Outlook 2010.


  11. From the Outlook Options dialogue box, go to Search tab >> Indexing Options.


  13. From the Indexing Options box, click on Modify and expand Microsoft Outlook data files.


Step 2: Repair Corrupt PST File Outlook 2010

  1. If the Archive.pst file is not indexed then, there is corruption in the file which needs to be repaired.
  2. Then, Browse to the location where the Outlook.exe file is saved.
  3. Next, locate the Scanpst.exe tool to fix instant search not working in Outlook 2016.
  4. Verify results by checking the Indexing status in Outlook 2010, 2013 and 2016.
  5. Try searching for a keyword or email phrase from the PST file.

Solution 2: Disable and Re-Enable PST File for Indexing

  1. Again, go to Search options and deselect Microsoft Outlook for indexing.
  2. Then, click OK button to fix instant search not working in Outlook 2010 issue.


  4. Next, close down Outlook application and check with Task Manager to confirm that outlook.exe is closed.
  5. After 5 minutes, restart the email client to fix instant search Outlook 2013.
  6. Again, check the box next to Microsoft Outlook in search options.


Leave the system idle for some time and then search for the email in the client.

Solution 3: Rebuild Index to Fix Instant Search Outlook 2010

  • If the email still does not appear is searching, repair the index itself by rebuilding it.
  • First, go to Control Panel >> Indexing Options >> Advanced >> Rebuild.



Solution 4: Reinstall Windows Search to Fix Instant Search Outlook 2013

  1. First, go to Control Panel >> Programs >> Turn Windows features on or off.
  2. From Windows Features dialogue box, deselect Windows Search.


  4. Next, click on OK button to fix instant search Outlook 2010.
  5. Following that, wait for the installer to finish and restart the computer.
  6. Finally, repeat the steps to enable it again.


If all else fails, one can try contacting the Outlook forums to get a complete solution for Microsoft experts. This post is meant for any business or home user facing the issue with Outlook instant search not working. It describes all the steps necessary. Follow them precisely to avoid data loss.