Does another Outlook mean new or different Outlook search problems? Not exactly, but Outlook is an email client that is used quite frequently, and like anything that is used frequently; it requires some attention and maintenance to keep it working. So, even if you’re using the new Outlook 2016, you will eventually run into some issues.
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One of the most common issues that occur with most Outlook clients is the search tool not working as it should. Microsoft Outlook Search not working is an issue that is common across all versions because all of them have the same base on how it functions, and that is the Outlook Search Index. There’s no need to worry though, there are things that will help you get your Outlook 2016 search up and running again.
Outlook 2016 Search Index
Outlook search is arguably one of the most important tools on an email client. When it stops working, it can seriously affect your ability to quickly navigate through your emails. There are various degrees of malfunction you may have to contend with dealing with the Outlook Search Index: it can completely stop working and give you zero results; it may show results up to a certain date; or the Outlook Search Index will tell you that there are items that are still waiting to be indexed. These issues could have many different roots, and can be fixed by doing different things. Let’s see what can be done.
Outlook Marked for Indexing?
When dealing with Microsoft Outlook Search not working, it is important to just keep calm and follow the steps provided here. If your search shows no results, one thing that could be happening is that your Outlook data file is not actually checked off for indexing. It is important to have the Outlook Search Index working correctly, as it can send the entire email client into a spiral of malfunction.It is quite easy in Outlook 2016 to check if your mailbox is being indexed. To check what you’re indexing in Outlook 2016 just follow this specific path:
Navigate to the search options by clicking File>Options> Search
Under Indexing Options, click Indexing Options> Modify
This is where you can make sure that Outlook has been selected for indexing. In previous versions of Outlook, you could specify which mailbox or .pst/.ost files within Outlook to index, but in Outlook 2016 you either index Outlook completely or you do not index it at all.
When you check if it is marked for indexing, you should also try disabling and then re-enabling Outlook. To do so, follow these steps:
- Deselect Outlook from Indexing
- Close Outlook
- Wait 5 minutes, check in the task manager that Outlook.exe is not in the processes tab
- Now open OL again and go back and select Outlook for indexing
Possible Pst file corruption?
There could be a corrupted pst-file that’s causing the search problems with the Outlook Search Index. To check the file and repair it in Outlook 2016 just search for scanpst.exe file. You can search for this file on your computer by typing in Scanpst.exe into the File Explorer(make sure it is not just searching the folder you are currently in, but choose “This PC” on the left hand side of File Explorer.) If you run this, it will repair any corrupted pst or ost file.
Learn more about how to run scanpst.exe here.
Rebuild the Index
If nothing else works, you may need to rebuild your index. This is easy to do, it just may take some time. All you need to do is follow these steps to rebuild your Outlook 2016 search index:
- Click on File, then Options. Click Search on the left hand side
- Now click on the button that says Indexing Options
- Click the button that says Advanced
- Within the tab that says “Index Settings” click on the button that says “Rebuild”
Note: When the index is being rebuilt, your search will not work. You should wait until the index is done rebuilding. The time it will take for the index to be rebuilt depends on the system you are using, the amount of files that need to be indexed, and file size.
When your index has finished rebuilding, you can go ahead and restart your Outlook searches. This should have fixed your Outlook 2016 search problems.
There have been a few updates for Outlook 2016 released since we wrote this article. However, for those of you still having issues, readers have written some great suggestions in the comments below with further things to try if the above solutions aren’t working perfectly. Here are 2 great ones:
Pat suggests you check your computer’s sleep time:
“Change the time-out/sleep-time on your computer to a large number such as 5 hours and it will rebuild the indexing files. Afterward, you can return the sleep time to something normal.
I keep emails for long periods to facilitate searches for old messages and have very large in and sent boxes. Every 6 – 12 months I do massive archiving on my several computers. The original files and the archives are so large with so many messages, that it takes a fair amount of time to re-index. If the computer goes to sleep, it doesn’t complete the indexing. I don’t know how long the indexing it takes, but 20 min is not enough.
I followed the instructions similar to those above; they won’t work if the computer times out before the indexing is complete. To see how to change the sleep time, check on google – it’s simple. In Windows 10 it is : Click the Start menu and select Settings. Click System. Click Power and sleep. Choose your desired Screen and Sleep settings.”
And Rachel has an easy quick fix:
“Go to Control Panel; Programs; Programs and Features; highlight your Office product; click Change at the top; click Quick Repair. Fixes indexing not searching every time.”