How To Fix Windows 7 Desktop Search Problems

Windows 7 does not have the best desktop search built in. This is something Windows 7 users have struggled with. You type something in, and your search results don’t always match what you are looking for, or it doesn’t actually work at all. Still, desktop search is one of the most important tools in the Windows arsenal, so you will want to learn how to avoid indexing issues. There are a couple of things you can do to try to improve the desktop search in Windows 7.

Start Menu & Windows 7 Desktop Search

The instinct here is to go to Windows Explorer and type in something that you’re searching for, but you should be aware that Windows Explorer will only look within the folder that you are currently in. The best way to find something in Windows 7 is to go and open the Start Menu and create the necessary search. From here it will search your entire computer, not just a single folder, for files or even programs that match the terms you typed in the search bar.


Looking for a better way to find your files? Learn about Windows search made easy.

Windows 7 Search Not Working: Detect Problems

If you notice that the Windows desktop search in Windows 7 is not working from the start menu or from Windows Explorer, you can use the Windows 7 Troubleshooting Wizard to detect any problems that might be occurring that you’re not aware of. To do so, just follow these steps:

1. Open the Control Panel and under “System and Security”, select Find and fix problems. You need to be in Category view to see this.

Windows 7 Search not working - find and fix problems

2. Now on the left hand panel click on “View All”

windows 7 troubleshooting

3. Then click “Search and Indexing”

windows 7 search and indexing troubleshoot

4. Click Next and then check the box that says “Files Don’t Appear in Search Results” once the troubleshooter has finished detecting problems. Click Next.

windows 7 search not working files not in search results

5. The Wizard is going to require that you have Administrator permissions, click on “Try troubleshooting as an administrator”. Once that is done, you may have to check off on the list of problems once more.

windows 7 troubleshooting as an administrator

The Wizard will then detect problems and fix the issues with search. If it does not solve the issue, then please keep reading.


Search the Contents of Your Files

The Windows desktop search in Windows 7 will search within the content of your files by default. This means that desktop search will find if your search terms actually appear within a file on your computer. The problem with desktop search on Windows 7 is that this “default” setting won’t always work. This may be why you’re unable to find the document you need, especially if you’re not searching by file name.

  • Open Windows Explorer
  • Go to Organize>Folder and Search Options
Windows 7 search file content
  • Then just go to the Search tab
  • Within that tab select “Always Search File Names and Contents”, then click OK.
windows 7 search file content index options

Fix Windows 7 Indexing Issues

If the problem with Windows 7 search doesn’t stem from search settings, but from indexing issues, then you can also try to rebuild the index. Here’s how:
1. Right-click on the Start Menu button and then select Properties.
2. Now within the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties window you will click on the Start Menu tab and then click the button that says Customize.

windows 7 taskbar and start menu properties

3. A new window will open; click on the button that says “Use Default Settings”. These will reset all options including the search feature.

windows 7 taskbar and start menu properties use default settings

4. Your next step will be to go to the Start Menu and type “search” in the bar. Then click on “Change how Windows Searches”.

change how windows searches

5. This will open a brand new window called Indexing Options. Click on the Advanced button.

Windows 7 indexing options

6. In the Advanced Options, click on the File Types tab. At the very bottom you will see How should this file be indexed. Select “Index Properties and File Contents”. Now click OK.

Indexing options - index properties and file contents

7. Also, if you go back to the Advanced Options window and click on the Index Settings Tab and within it, click the Rebuild Button.

windows 7 indexing options - rebuild index

Indexing will take some time, but once it is complete, you shouldn’t have any further problems with Windows 7 search not working (for now). You might want the rebuild to run when you are not using the computer, as it could slow down your PC a bit while the process is taking place.


Add Folders to Your Index

Windows desktop search in Windows 7 has a general idea of which locations and folders need to be indexed. It will go through your Start Menu, the User Folder, and any of your offline files. If you moved something around or have some things stored in another location on your drive, then you will want to add folders to your index so that the desktop search will go looking within those folders as well.

There are two easy ways to do this, adding a folder to a library or adding one directly to the index. When you add a folder to one of your libraries, it will instantly make it part of the index because Windows Explorer automatically indexes all of your libraries. So you can either create a new library or you can go into an existing library by right clicking, go to Properties and add a folder. This folder will then automatically become indexed.

The other way would be to go to your Indexing Options (look for it in your Start Menu) select Modify and then you can add a new folder to the index as well.

The minor changes and tips will have your Windows 7 desktop search working a lot better. If you continue to run into issues, then you may want to consider an alternative for Windows desktop search.

Date: 02. Oct 2015
Author: Joana Simoes
Tags: Desktop Search Windows 7

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  • D

    Win 7. Type in any search box and nothing happens. One of your options for fixing searches involves searching. I somehow stumbled on that one and tried it too and still nothing. Is there anything else that can be done?

    2022-12-10 20:03:47 | Dane Verdier
    • A

      Thank you for your comment. In this context, I would highly recommend our search solution Lookeen.The multiple award-winning professional desktop search solution finds all important information for you in record time!

      2022-12-13 09:04:44 | Aline Gengenbach
  • M

    but when i type in menu search they nothing in search.Its only programs with white me please i dont know how to fix

    2018-06-30 20:16:31 | Mehmed Talic
  • D

    Thank you so much. Your instructions were easy to follow and helped me fix the Search problem as it had spontaneously had stopped working. Thanks again whoever you are!

    2017-02-2 05:34:44 | Diane Arredondo
  • E

    1. None of the options work
    2. You point to different windows and pop up windows than appear in my Win7.
    3. Maybe we have different OS ??? :///

    2016-12-6 00:17:37 | Erik

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