Summary: Outlook features a search option that helps find email items based on keywords. You may further add filters to your search query and locate specific email items much more quickly. However, if your Outlook 2016 search is not working properly or not displaying all results, it indicates Microsoft Outlook search problem. This comprehensive guide helps you troubleshoot and resolve Outlook 2016 search issues in a Windows PC.
When Outlook search does not work properly, you may experience the following issues—
Outlook fails to return any search results
Outlook 2016 search not showing all results
Outlook fails to find older or recent emails
Outlook search does not find any matches
Search tab not working, turns grey (specific to Outlook 2016)
Note: If you find that problem is due to damage in MS Outlook PST database file then, try PST file recovery softwareto make Outlook error-free and to fix “outlook 2016 search not working” related problems.
In case, the search bar isn’t visible, follow these steps:
Go to File>Options>Customize
Select All Tabs under ‘Choose commands from’ section.
From the list of tab selections, select ‘Search’, click ‘Add’, and then click ‘OK’.
Solutions to Fix Outlook 2016 Search Problems
Based on different issues in Outlook 2016 search, there could be several solutions which are as follows:
Fix Outlook Indexing Status
Fix Incomplete Search Results Problem
Fix Greyed Out Search bar in Outlook 2016
Fix Personal Folder Outlook Data File (.PST)
Inspect Windows Search Service
Fix Outlook 2016 Search issue via Windows Registry
1. Fix Outlook Indexing Status
When the Outlook indexing tool is not working or not functioning properly, it may not show recent emails in search results. Further, it may display results up to a particular like outlook search by date or may show that there are items based on search criteria waiting to be indexed in the output panel. In such cases, there could be a problem with the Outlook Indexing services.
To check the indexing status in Outlook 2016, follow these steps:
Open Outlook 2016 and click on ‘Search’ bar.
Click ‘Search Tools’ drop-down and choose ‘Indexing Status…’
This displays the number of mailboxes awaiting index. You can use the search function but may not find the desired mails or get incomplete results due to incomplete indexing status.
Steps to Rebuild the Outlook Index
There are two different ways to rebuild the Outlook index and resolve the Outlook 2016 search issue.
a. Repair MS Office Installation
Go to Control Panel>Programs>Programs and Features.
Click on Outlook 2016 or Microsoft Office [VERSION].
Click ‘Change’ button at the top.
Select ‘Repair’ and click ‘Continue’.
This will begin repairing MS Office or Outlook 2016 installation that may fix the Outlook 2016 search issue.
b. Using Outlook Index Repair Option
Outlook 2016 also features ‘Indexing options…’ to fix Outlook index related issues. Follow these steps to rebuild the Outlook Index and fix the Outlook search problem,
In Outlook 2016, go to File>Options>Search.
Click on the ‘Indexing Options…’ button.
Click ‘Microsoft Outlook’ and then click ‘Advanced’ button.
Click ‘Rebuild’ and then click ‘OK’.
TIP: You may also search and open ‘Indexing Options’ from the Control Panel.
2. Fix Incomplete Search Results Problem
If the search results are incomplete or missing older email items, apply the following methods:
a. Increase Email Sync Slider
This will enable Outlook to sync and index the older emails that may be missing in the Outlook 2016 search results.
Open Outlook 2016 and go to File > Account Settings > Account Settings.
Select your email account and then click ‘Change’.
Drag the slider to ‘All’ and then click ‘Next’.
Click ‘OK’ when a prompt appears.
Click ‘Finish’ to close the window and then restart Outlook.
After restarting, Outlook will index all the mail items. Once done, you can search for the desired mails.
b. Allow Search to Display All Results
When you enter a search query in Outlook, it displays 250 search results by default. To show all results, follow these steps:
NOTE: This will show you all results but the search will be slower.
Open Outlook and go to File>Options>Search.
Unselect the ‘Improve search speed by limiting the number of results shown’ checkbox.
Click ‘OK’ and restart the Outlook.
TIP: You may click ‘Include messages from Deleted items folder …’ checkbox to improve search results.
3. Fix Greyed Out Search bar in Outlook 2016
To fix the greyed out search bar, you need to repair the MS Office or Outlook 2016 installation.
Follow these steps:
In Windows 10 PC, go to Settings>Apps.
Search and click on Microsoft Office.
Click ‘Modify’ and then select ‘Repair’ option.
Click ‘Continue’ to repair the MS Office installation which may fix the greyed out search bar issue in Outlook 2016.
4. Fix Personal Folder Outlook Data File (.PST)
A corrupt Outlook data file (.pst) can cause severe issues including Outlook search problems. However, Outlook provides an Inbox Repair Tool or SCANPST.EXE to analyze and repair a corrupt or damaged PST file. The tool comes integrated with all the versions of Microsoft Outlook email client.
The default PST file location in Windows is C:\Users\YOURUSERNAME\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook
To access and use the SCANPST.EXE tool, follow these steps:
Open File Explorer and go to C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office16\
Or C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office16\
Click ‘Browse’ to choose the corrupt Outlook PST file.
NOTE: SCANPST.EXE supports the PST file of size up to 2GB. It doesn’t support an encrypted PST file.
Click on the ‘Start’ button to begin the Outlook data file scan process.
After the scan, if the Inbox Repair Tooldetects any error, it displays the following screen. Click ‘Repair.’
After the repair, the following message is displayed. Click ‘OK’ to close it.
Now you may restart Outlook and check if the Outlook search problem is resolved.
Alternatively, you can use a PST repair tool such as Stellar Repair for Outlook to fix a corrupt PST file. The software can also fix oversized, encrypted, or severely corrupt PST Outlook data file.
It not only helps resolve Outlook 2016 search problems by fixing corrupt PST files but also lets you save the repaired PST mail items to various file formats such as MSG, PDF, HTML, RTF, and EML.
5. Disable Add-ins
Outlook add-ins help add features and improve productivity. However, sometimes an incompatible or outdated Outlook add-in can cause chaos and lead to issues such as Outlook crash or Outlook search problems.
Follow these steps to disable Outlook add-ins and fix the Outlook search issue:
Open Outlook 2016 and go to File > Options > Add-ins.
In Managelist, select COM Add-ins and click ‘Go’.
Clear the check for add-ins and click ‘OK’.
Restart Outlook 2016.
6. Inspect Windows Search Service Status
Press Windows+R, type services.msc, and click ‘OK’.
Scroll down and find ‘Windows Search’.
Check if its ‘Status’ is ‘Running’. If not, right-click on ‘Windows Search’ and select ‘Start’.
Then double click on ‘Windows Search’ and select ‘Automatic (Delayed Start)’ in ‘Startup Type’ drop-down.
Click ‘OK’ and close all windows.
Restart Windows PC and Outlook to check if the Outlook search problem is resolved.
7. Fix Outlook 2016 Search Issue via Windows Registry
Press Windows+R, type Regedit and click ‘OK’. This opens the Registry Editor.
Paste the following registry key location in the address bar and press ‘Enter’.
Right-click on ‘Windows Search’ and select New>Dword (32-bit) Value.
Name the Dword as ‘PreventIndexingOutlook’.
Double-click on PreventIndexingOutlook. Enter 0 in Value data: field and click ‘OK’.
In Outlook 2016 search not working issue is one of the several problems that you may face while using the software. Most probably, the cause behind search-related issues is incomplete Outlook indexing or corrupt PST file. This guide helps you understand various Outlook 2016 search problems and details several troubleshooting methods to fix these problems.
For instance, if the cause of the Outlook search problem is a corrupt Outlook data file, you can repair the PST file by using Stellar Repair for Outlook or Inbox Repair Tool (scanpst.exe). Both of these utilities can repair PST file and recover the entire mailbox data. After the damaged PST file is repaired, the ‘Search’ feature in Outlook 2016 should work properly.
Stellar Repair for Outlookis a recommended solution for fixing such issues caused by corrupt PST files as it provides several advantages over the SCANPST.EXE tool. The software supports encrypted Outlook data files, shows a preview of recovered mailbox data before saving, saves the recovered Outlook data file in multiple file formats, and more.
It works in almost all situations when the Inbox repair tool fails to resolve the issue. Check what the other MVPs and other experts have to say about this software: Click Here.
Eric Simson is an Email Platform Consultant and is associated with Stellar Data Recovery from last 6 years. He writes about the latest technology tips and provides custom solutions related to MS Outlook, MS Exchange Server, Office 365, and many other Email Clients & Servers.