How To Fix Outlook 2013 Search Problems

Has your Outlook 2013 search suddenly stopped working? You keep typing different words and phrases, but it does not make a difference. Everything you type in Outlook search comes up with zero results.


Sick of the hassle of fixing Outlook every time it fails to find your emails? Try this instead..

You’ll probably see a message that says “We couldn’t find what you were looking for.”  There’s also a chance that you can see very few results, and if you take a look at the indexing status dialog in Outlook, you will possibly see the following message: “Search results may be incomplete because items are still being indexed.”


What Causes Outlook 2013 Search Problems?

When it comes to Outlook 2013 Search not working, you will quickly discover that this is a common issue across the board with Outlook users, so don’t blame yourself. Of course there are some preventative measures you could take to help keep away any Outlook 2013 search problem, but with constant use, there’s a chance something will go wrong down the line. When you rebuild a PST file, add more mailboxes, or even just migrate emails, your search index may not update and that will kick off an Outlook 2013 search problem. Not to worry, there are things you can do to fix those issues.


Step 1: Verify that indexing is working

Outlook 2013 search indexing status

To verify that indexing in Outlook 2013 is working properly, use the following steps:

  • Click in the Search box
  • In the Search tab, select Search Tools and then click Indexing Status
  • When the indexing status dialog emerges, you might see the following:
Outlook 2013 indexing status

If you see this message, it means that the index is complete, and Outlook can’t find your item for some other reason.

If Outlook has not finished indexing all of your items, you’ll see a message that says:

Search results may be incomplete because items are still being indexed.

If you see this message, take note of the number of files remaining to be indexed, wait five to ten minutes and then check again. If you still can’t find your files, try removing then adding your Outlook files to the Windows index.


Step 2: Remove Outlook from the Windows Index:

  • Go to File > Options
  • In Search settings, click Indexing Options…
  • Click Modify
  • Un-check Microsoft Outlook from the list of Indexed Locations
  • Close Outlook completely and check the Task Manager (ctrl+alt+del) to see if no Outlook processes are running
Remove Outlook from Windows Indexing

Step 3: Make Sure Outlook Files can be Indexed

Outlook PST and OST files are indexed by Windows by default, but it may be that something strange happened during an update to either Windows or Outlook that caused this not to be the case. In order for Outlook to be able to search your emails, the contents of those emails must be allowed to be indexed by Windows. Here’s how to check:

Outlook 2013 account settings
  • Right click on the .pst or .ost file and click Properties
  • Click Advanced
  • Make sure that the box next to ‘Allow this file to have contents indexed in addition to file’ is checked.
  • Click OK
Allow Outlook contents to be indexed

Step 4: Add Outlook to the Windows Index

Follow the steps outlined in step 2. Make sure this time that the box next to Microsoft Outlook is checked.

Give Outlook a little time to check the state of the indexing. It may be that it needs to add new items to the index. After a few minutes, you can try searching again.


Last Resort: Rebuild the Index in Outlook 2013

If you still can’t find the email you’re looking for, there may be a problem with your index. Rebuilding the index in Outlook 2013 isn’t too difficult, only time consuming. Here’s how to rebuild:

  • In Outlook 2013 click on the File tab, then click Options > Search
  • Click Indexing Options
  • You should now see what locations are being indexed. Click Advanced
  • Under Troubleshooting, click Rebuild
  • Rebuilding will take some time so make sure to leave your PC running for a while, preferably when you don’t need to work with it since indexing can impact the speed of your computer.
Outlook 2013 rebuild index

Often when you move emails around a lot, or just generally use Outlook for a long time, you’re likely to run into indexing issues. These few steps will help you get Outlook 2013 search back into shape.

Date: 26. Jan 2017
Author: Joana Simoes
Tags: Email Indexing Outlook 2013 Windows Search

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  • M

    Excellent article thank you very much.

    2023-02-15 10:44:57 | Mohammed Ahmed Mohiuddin
    • F

      Hi there,

      nice to hear that our article helped you!


      2023-04-13 16:46:42 | Froher Yosofy
  • A

    Great.. Thank you so much

    2023-01-5 10:04:27 | Abayomi Olaoluwa
  • K

    This is legit.. Thanks

    2022-05-8 08:30:03 | Karim Ibrahim
  • L

    I’ve been fighting this problem for months before I found this post. great instruction – because it worked! clearly written and effective.

    2018-08-16 17:50:46 | lynn
  • A

    This post was a big help! Thanks for your support

    2018-08-3 21:59:14 | Anthony
  • P

    excellent post .Thanks it works

    2018-06-7 01:47:30 | pramod
    • J

      I resolved the problem. Many thanks.

      2018-07-31 15:44:32 | Joseph Potato
  • S

    Worked for me, thanks!

    2018-06-2 17:43:21 | Scot
  • N

    Great Help !
    Thanks a lot

    2018-05-30 09:45:11 | nancy javier
  • M

    Life saver, thank you!

    2018-05-18 02:50:36 | Marc
  • M

    Fixed! Thank you so much.

    2018-04-1 09:51:15 | Mirek Gee
  • R

    This was really really helpful. even though I’m not an IT pro I was able to fix my problem in Outlook2013 search by following this detailed steps. Many thanks to the author! Maraming Salamat!

    2018-01-19 03:47:45 | Rhejoel Joson
  • M

    Well its a sort of half thanks from me. Following steps 1-4 did restore the search function and the ability to group messages. However it does not last, close outlook and open it again I am back to square one. The check boxes set in step three have now become unchecked again. Any ideas how to stop this??

    2017-12-13 18:02:43 | Mark
  • D

    My Outlook 2013 Search Broke with Windows Creator (1709) fall update. After the update Outlook would not use the index and was painfully slow and didn’t find things correctly. Thank Goodness, Microsoft put out an update patch KB4011282 and/or KB4011279 I installed today that fixed the issue!

    2017-12-7 01:26:19 | Daryl
  • K

    Thank you! Saved my “productivity life!”

    2017-12-4 15:07:10 | Kevin Phifer
  • D

    I am so glad I stumbled upon this! I have been searching for quite some time to find a fix for why I could not search in my Outlook 2013 and Microsoft suggestions did not work. All I had to do was steps 1 through 4 and we are in business! Keep up the good work!

    2017-11-17 15:55:11 | Dusty
  • M

    Will Lookeen Free search pst files? I can’t get it to search my emails or archived emails. It will only search my desktop. I have tried the fix you describe here.

    2017-11-13 17:23:24 | Matt
  • S

    I have spent 2 days trying to fix this and this is the only solution that has worked! Thank you !!

    2017-10-19 11:44:31 | Shell
  • U

    Thanks alot

    2017-10-2 08:47:29 | Usman Ramzan
  • A

    Is there any data loss with this process.

    2017-08-16 14:52:19 | Ashok
  • A

    Very very nice. Thanks alot. really helpful

    2017-08-8 10:28:16 | Adnan
  • R

    Thank you!!!!!!

    2017-07-24 16:39:12 | Rick
  • P

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2017-07-12 00:46:23 | Priscilla and Rod Dee
  • M

    Thank you for such a detailed, step-by-step fix!

    2017-07-6 16:56:46 | Mary
  • F

    so your solution is “turn it off and on again”?
    wow, you must work in IT Support

    2017-07-2 10:19:54 | Floyd
  • K

    Thanks Joana!
    I have copy this method down for our users easy reference.

    2017-06-22 05:48:26 | KEvin Lau
  • O

    Thank you it worked!

    2017-06-21 18:06:32 | Othni Javier Morales
  • J

    Thank you. Worked! tx

    2017-06-19 10:26:37 | Jim
  • B

    thank you so much!

    2017-06-15 19:22:07 | Brian Cavanaugh
  • L

    I can’t thank you enough!

    2017-06-8 02:58:21 | Lucille
  • M

    Thank you very much Joana Simoens!
    If I did not have your solution, I would have to re-install win7 which takes much time and many apps/data are lost.
    Again, thank you so much for your valuable contribution.

    2017-02-16 04:23:41 | Minhtech
  • S

    Wowww…. Thank you soo much…. It really worked…. :) :)

    2017-02-7 14:11:50 | Shanu
  • A

    Seems to have solved my problem – thanks!

    2017-01-25 19:08:06 | Angie
  • J

    This solves the problem, thanks!

    2017-01-23 08:03:46 | Jeremy Lee
  • M

    This is the best answer I’ve found to my problem. It’s fixed now, and helps me a lot !
    It’s been written by someone (Joana S.) who knows her stuff AND can transmit it to other the right way, without forgetting that little detail that is so important.
    Thanks a million !

    2017-01-17 12:48:17 | Marco C.
  • H

    Thank you!

    2017-01-11 16:49:34 | Harold Silva
  • S

    This has been a real nice help.
    Just follow the steps exactly as mentioned.
    Keep the outlook open while changing the indexing setting is important.

    Thank you.

    2016-12-30 07:20:59 | shrirang
  • L

    Thank YOU!!! This was so helpful!!!

    2016-12-27 01:00:44 | Luis Morales
  • S

    Thanks so much. worked for me!

    2016-12-20 14:32:46 | SKK
  • F

    Additional comment.. this worked for me.
    And, if you have two profile in outlook… you may want to remove one of the profile for it to work.

    control panel -> mail -> show profies…

    2016-12-14 07:54:39 | F
  • V

    Issue resolved. Good Article.

    2016-11-1 15:46:28 | Vinod
  • M

    worked like a charm. Thank you soooo much!

    2016-10-25 12:04:27 | Mau
  • P

    my windows server 2012 r2 ,in outlook 2013 serching not completed /

    what can we do ???
    Please any body help me Sir

    2016-10-20 12:50:37 | Pawan Mishra
  • C

    Thanks god!

    2016-10-20 12:45:49 | Cristian
  • L

    Couldn’t figure out step 3. Steps 2, 4, and Last Resort did the trick. Outlook search results are back. Thanks,

    2016-10-8 23:55:33 | Lee
  • L

    Great information. I might just add that there are other things that can impact indexing like having a full hard drive. I know that seems like obvious information but when you are working for a help desk you learn that stupidity knows no bounds!

    2016-09-29 19:24:39 | Logan
  • T

    this post worked to me since i have tried other ways before. Awesome ! Thank you.

    2016-09-15 08:11:35 | Tan Tan
  • T

    it worked.Thank you

    2016-09-15 08:05:19 | Tan Tan
  • S

    It worked. But outlook can not search again after restart…..

    2016-08-30 05:33:39 | Suping Shen
    • S

      same here, same problem happen after restart, please help.
      i have this problem after recent window 10 upgrade, it’s so annoying!
      please help!

      2016-10-25 11:53:02 | Sam Kwan
  • A

    Thank you very much! Appreciate! Very nice advise!

    Amir from Kazakhstan

    2016-08-27 17:08:15 | Amirbek Minash
  • S

    The hints fixed the Outlook search problem. Thanks.

    2016-08-20 12:06:21 | S
  • V

    Extremely useful post!

    2016-07-27 14:06:38 | V
  • M

    Great stuff. It worked. Thanks.

    2016-07-19 16:21:27 | msn
  • S

    Awesome. It worked. Thank you very much.

    2016-07-13 21:58:54 | Sim
  • B

    excellent post .Thanks it works

    2016-07-12 12:40:10 | bill
  • N

    Fantastic – thanks loads!

    2016-07-10 16:56:05 | nick
  • M

    Great, thank you!

    2016-06-6 14:49:13 | Michael

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