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.
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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
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:
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
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:
- Find the location of your PST or OST files
- Go to File > Account Settings > Account Settings
- Click on the Data Files tab
- Select your Outlook file from the list and click Open File Location…
- 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
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.
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.