Windows 10 Search not working? Here’s how to fix it

I’ve been helping out people in tech support for quite some time now and from what I’ve seen, not everyone is aware of one crucial feature that can improve your efficiency while using Microsoft Windows 10 – It’s actually the search feature that is embedded in the operating system itself. Some people shy away from it because they think the Windows 10 search not working is a frequent issue – but it’s quite the opposite. It’s a feature that was introduced largely in Microsoft Windows 7 but it needed polishing and has not been perfected until now as the Windows 10 search feature. Frankly, it’s one of the most underrated features of this operating system.

Fix Windows 10 Search Not working

There are several factors that come into play as to why the search function is not working, but here are the common ways to fix it.

Restart your Computer

The easiest way to jumpstart your search adventure is to restart your computer. Your computer might have been running for a couple days straight and that might be what’s causing your issue. Simply restarting your computer can give it that necessary refresh to be able to start searching.

Use Windows Troubleshooter

If restarting your computer did not work out for you, you might need to have Windows troubleshoot this problem for you, before you jump into tweaking it yourself – just to be on the safe side.

  1. Open Control Panel. Just open your file explorer and type in ‘Control Panel’.
  2. Once you have the Control Panel open, change the view to ‘Small Icons’.
  3. Click on ‘Troubleshooting’.
  4. Click on ‘View All’ to view all troubleshooting packs.
  5. Click on ‘Search and Indexing’. 
  6. Run the Troubleshooter to identify any problems that are causing your search issues.

The troubleshooter fixes most common problems with search and will provide you with solutions on how to fix it.

Rebuild your Index

Basically, your computer indexes your apps, files, and folders for easy search. However, there are times that the index might have errors and the errors are what might be causing your failed searches. In this method, we’ll try rebuilding your index to flush out any errors.

  1. Open Control Panel and change the view again to ‘Small Icons’.
  2. Click on ‘Indexing Options’. 
  3. In the Indexing Options, click on ‘Advanced’. 
  4. Click on ‘Rebuild’
  5. Click on OK to start the Rebuilding process.

Rebuilding your index will take a while, so get a cup of tea while Windows does its thing. And once it’s done, your search function should be (hopefully) working now.

Using Task Manager to End Process

If things haven’t worked out for you so far, it might be time to bring out the big guns. That’s a metaphor of course. We’ll be using the Task Manager to close down the search function to refresh it that way.

  1. Open Task Manager by pressing CTRL + SHIFT + ESC. Or alternatively, right-click the Start Menu and click on ‘Task Manager’. 
  2. Depending on whether your computer has Cortana installed or not, you’ll need to find either Search or Cortana. Highlight it once you find it. 
  3. Click on ‘End Task’

This closes down the search function and restarts it once you try searching for an item again, either by click on the start menu and searching or by clicking on the search function on the taskbar.

How to use the Windows 10 Search feature

Long gone are those days that you had to manually look for a program in the start menu of your computer. If you wanted to open MS Paint in Windows XP, you had to go to the Start Menu, open up Programs, and then Accessories, before you could even open up MS Paint. Opening a single app or program you had installed was a longer process than it is now, and it was painstakingly difficult to remember where you put all your programs and it was generally a hassle to open different programs unless you’ve saved them to your desktop. It was even worse for files especially if you have a lot of folders nested upon more folders.

Today, with the implementation of an optimized search feature in Windows 10, you can actually just hit the Start Menu icon and start typing to search for an app, file or folder.

Open up your start menu to see your apps.

You can start typing in the keyword you want to search for. And it instantly populates the closest programs or files.

And it’s that simple to search for a program in Windows 10. Alternatively, you can just click on the magnifying glass icon on the Start Menu. Some versions of Windows 10 would have Cortana or a search bar on the taskbar which makes things much easier to search.

An alternative way to search for files and programs.

These features really make Windows 10 a very smooth experience, despite people saying that the OS is less intuitive than previous iterations. But sometimes, you’ll experience the Windows 10 search not working for you. Or maybe you’ve got a situation with Cortana not working? It’s a minor inconvenience, but we can get past that hurdle in just a couple of easy steps.

In Brief

Situations where the Windows 10 search not working can easily be overcome by a few steps of troubleshooting. Just follow the instructions listed here and you should be able to search in no time. Microsoft really has put a great effort into optimizing the search function, so let’s make the most of it! Happy searching! Also, check out our list of best browsers for Windows 10.

Did any of the methods here solve your problem? Let us know in the comments below!

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