What if Windows search suddenly stopped working on Windows 10, 8.1, 7?

October 1, 2018 |

greater than 10 minutes

The Windows Search is an intuitive feature users take advantage of when they quickly want to locate an obscure file on their computer. It is not without its flaws, but it works well most of the time.

Understandably, there are times where the components involved in the Windows Search operations fail to function correctly, and subsequently, users realize that their system displays no results when they perform a search.

What if Windows search is not working?

We know of a good number of factors contributing to Windows Search problems, issues that affect essential Windows Search components like the Windows Search Indexer, and so on. They all have something in common, though—they hardly ever change or damage the entirety of Windows Search components to cause the search failure.

What they do, however, is take apart a specific functionality or component Windows Search relies on to do its work. For example, if your Firewall is involved in causing problems, then it does so by blocking Cortana’s operations. Other times, when issues afflict the Windows Search feature, users might notice that their Windows search bar is not working.

We believe that there are multiple strains of the same problem affecting Windows Search. For example, some users might have ended up on this page to find out how to fix Windows 10 Start Menu Search not working, while others came to see if they could learn how to fix Microsoft Windows Search Indexer has stopped working.

We will provide solutions for every strain or case of the issue regardless of the variables or conditions involved. Even those struggling with the problem of Windows Search not finding anything or Windows 10 Cortana not working will find something that helps them.

How to fix the Windows Search suddenly stopped working problem and related problems?

Before you begin attempting the fixes, we advise you to restart your system and see the result from this operation. A reboot of Windows is sometimes all you need to eliminate issues affecting the Windows Search feature. Well, if no positive change came about from the restart of your computer, then you are free to carry on.

We would prefer you start with the first fix on the list, and if it fails to work as expected, then you must continue with the remaining solutions in the order which they are listed here.

Check your Firewall and antivirus:

Certain firewall configuration or settings are incompatible with Windows Search operations. Similar security setups like those created by your antivirus app might also cause Cortana to malfunction. You will do well to check everything.

If you experience the Windows Search not working problem while your firewall is disabled, then you must navigate through your system settings to enable your firewall. This change might deliver the result you want. From the reports submitted by some users, we came to realize that some Search and Indexing operations are considerably sensitive to the security settings on some computers.

On the other hand, if you are struggling with the problem while the firewall on your computer is enabled, then you can make some changes as regards Cortana. Follow these instructions:

  • Perform a search by pressing (and holding) the Windows button on your keyboard, tapping the letter S key, then inputting the following keyword into the text field present: Windows Firewall

From the list of results you see, select Windows Defender Firewall (Control Panel)

  • The Windows Defender Firewall menu in a Control Panel program window should be up and running now. Click the Advanced settings link (an item on the left pane). Click on Outbound rules
  • Locate the rule for Cortana. Double-click on it to edit it. Select Block. Now, click on the OK/Apply button. Restart your system and see if things are now okay with the Windows Search functionality.

If you are yet to get your breakthrough even after all the work you performed on your firewall, then it is time you considered moving against your antivirus. After all, your antivirus plays a vital role in protecting your PC from threats, but if it has something to do with Windows Search problems, then you do not have much choice as regards what to do. Follow these instructions:

  • Open your antivirus, find the option for disabling it. If this option is missing, then you must navigate through its settings menu to locate every vital feature or functionality your antivirus employs to carry out its work, then disable every single one of them.
  • Restart your PC, try to do a search and see what happens. If the problems affecting the Windows Search functionality persist, then you must move on to uninstall your antivirus because this is the only way you can be sure that it has stopped interfering with Windows Search or Indexing operations.

Uninstallation of applications can be carried out through the Apps menu in the Settings program or through the Program and Features menu in the Control Panel application.

  • You must restart your system after the uninstallation of your antivirus to let your computer enter a new state, considering the changes that occurred. Finally, you must find out what effect the removal of your antivirus has had on your problem.
  • If you are now able to use the Windows Search feature without issues after you moved against your firewall or antivirus, then you will glad to know that the result you obtained justifies the action you took.

Nevertheless, you still have some work to do. You must now address the security problem, which manifested as a result of you reducing the powers of your security setup or program (or you getting rid of them altogether). Introduction of Auslogics Anti-Malware is as close to the ideal solution you can get in this case.

We have just shown a top security app that is capable of providing reliable protection for your PC without it having to cause problems for you through interference with the operations of other programs or conflicts with other applications. You will do well to take advantage of it.

  • On the other hand, if the operations you executed against your firewall and antivirus failed to bring about any positive changes as regards the issue causing Windows Search not to work, then you are free to reverse the changes you made.

Reinstall the applications involved:

If you are still struggling to get the Windows Search feature to function well, then issues within the applications involved might be to blame. Fortunately, since your Start Menu and Cortana are more or less universal applications, you can quickly fix problems affecting them by reinstalling their apps.

Reinstallation of programs often brings about enough changes that get rid of issues affecting them. It is also a relatively simple procedure to carry out, but you might want to create a backup; it might come in handy if things go south. Here are the instructions you need to follow:

  • Perform a search by pressing the Windows button on your keyboard (or clicking on the Windows Start icon always present on your desktop screen), then inputting the following keyword into the text field that appears: PowerShell

From the list of results you see, right-click on Windows PowerShell and select Run as administrator from the short menu list that shows up

  • After the Administrator: PowerShell program window comes on, you must input the following commands (one line of code at a time) and hit the Enter key (after you finish inputting each one):
  1. $manifest = (Get-AppxPackage Microsoft.WindowsStore).InstallLocation + ‘\AppxManifest.xml’
  2. Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register $manifest
  3. Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers |Where-Object {$_.InstallLocation -like “*SystemApps*”}
  • Now, after you finish executing the listed commands to reinstall the applications, you are free to exit the PowerShell program window. Close any other app you have running and restart your PC. After Windows reboots and your computer settles down, you must move to check if Windows Search problems have disappeared.

Restart File Explorer:

A restart of the File Explorer process is sometimes integral in dealing with problems affecting Windows Search. Perhaps, there are some underlying glitches or inconsistencies that Windows must eliminate for the feature to work.

Go through these steps to carry out the needed operation:

  • Open the Task Manager program. You can do this pressing (and holding the first two of) the following keys (and hitting the third): Ctrl + Shift + Esc. You can also use this combination of keys (CTRL, ALT, Delete) to arrive at a screen where you get to select the Task Manager app from a list of programs and options
  • At this point, we believe you have the Task Manager program window up. Go through the list under the Processes tab and locate File Explorer. Right-click on it and select Restart from the short menu list that appears
  • Windows will restart the Explorer app immediately. You are now free to check if the Windows Search feature is now working.

Disable web results for Windows Search:

Sometimes, Windows Search struggles to function correctly due to your current configuration as regards your system being allowed to search for and present results from the internet (related to your query). You can quickly disable the required setting through operations in the Group Policy app if your computer is running a Pro, Enterprise, or Education edition of Windows 10.

Follow these instructions:

  • Open the Run app by pressing (and holding) the Windows button on your keyboard, then tapping the letter R. Once the small program window appears, you must input the following code into the text field available: gpedit.msc

Now, hit the Enter key to force Windows to execute the code

  • Once the Local Group Policy Editor program window shows up, on the left pane, you must navigate through the following items: Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Search
  • Now, on the right pane, click on the Don’t search the web or display web results in Search policy to edit it. If you find out that the radio button for Enabled is currently selected, then you must choose Disabled. On the other hand, if you notice that the default option is Enabled, then you must select Disabled or Not configured
  • Click on the Apply button. To save the changes you made, click on the OK button.

If you have a PC running the Home edition of Windows, then you will not be able to access the Local Group Policy Editor program. You can carry out the same operation involving web results for Windows Search through the Registry app. The procedure here is useful and applicable to every build of Windows, anyway.

  • Open the Run app by right-clicking on the Windows Start icon to bring up the Power User menu, then selecting Run from the list of programs and options you see. Type in the following code into the text box present and hit the Enter key once you are done inputting it: regedit
  • After the Registry Editor program window shows up, starting from the left pane, you must navigate through the following items: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SOFTWARE \ Policies \ Microsoft \ Windows \ Windows Search
  • On the right pane, you should see this value, ConnectedSearchUseWeb. Double-click on it to edit it. Replace whatever you find in the text field for Value Data with 1.
  • Click on the OK button. You are now free to check if your problem has been resolved.

Restore Indexing Services:

Windows uses indexing operations to add or update file types, extensions, and related data to improve the speed and efficiency of the Search feature. If your index gets broken or damaged, then Windows Search failing to work is a consequence of this unfortunate event.

You can quickly resolve problems with your index by forcing Windows to rebuild it. This process might take a while, but it is more often than not worth the time. Follow these instructions:

  • Launch the Control Panel app by pressing (and holding) the Windows button on your keyboard, tapping the letter X to see the Power User menu, then clicking on Control Panel from the programs and options you see
  • After the required program window shows up, click on View small icons. Go through the list you see and locate Indexing Options. The Indexing Options program window should come up now
  • Click on the Advanced button. The Advanced options window will come up now, and there, you must click on the Rebuild button under the Troubleshooting menu. Your system will display a window to inform you about the operations it is about to carry out.
  • Click on the OK button to give confirmation. Windows will now initiate the process. Remember to be patient. After Windows finishes building your index, you are free to check if all is now well with the Windows Search Feature. Restart your system and check again if you realize nothing changed.

Run a specific command:

A good number of users confirmed that they had been able to fix problems preventing the Windows Search feature on their system from functioning properly by running a specific command. As far as we know, this procedure activates the language bar and alternative user input. If this operation worked for them, then there is a good chance it might give you the result you want.

Here are the steps you must go through:

  • Open the Run app. There is nothing to see here because we have shown you how to carry out this operation numerous times
  • Once the Run program window shows up, you must input the following code into the text field you see: ctfmon.exe
  • Click on the OK button to run the command. You can also hit the Enter key to do the same thing. You are now free to check if the issues affecting Windows Search on your computer have disappeared.

Other things you could try to resolve the Windows Search not working problem and similar issues

We have provided a reasonable number of fixes to show users how to resolve the Windows 10 search not finding anything issue and related problems. However, we understand that some users might still end up struggling with the problem even after going through the solutions we provided in details. To this end, we have decided to include this list of additional fixes:

Restart the Cortana process:

You can quickly carry out this procedure through the Task Manager program. Windows will automatically restart the process you terminated

Restart the Windows Search service:

A restart of the Window Search service is sometimes enough to force alterations that eliminate the issues affecting the feature in view

Run the troubleshooter for Search and Indexing:

Troubleshooters are inbuilt tools that provide help as regards the diagnosis and resolution of a wide range of problems, and fortunately, Microsoft has included a troubleshooter you can explicitly use to deal with Windows Search issues.

Repair your Windows installation and fix corruption:

The SFC (System File Checker) and DISM (Deployment Image Servicing and Management) tools will come in handy here

Create a new user account:

If the corruption of your current user profile is to blame for the Window Search problems you are facing now, then you are left with no choice but the creation of a new account.

If you got to this point with your Windows Search feature still not working or displaying results, then it is time you considered help from a disruptive procedure (Windows Reset, for example).

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