Friday 18 September 2009

Outlook 2010 – Search Is Broken?

We just set up a new workstation with Office 2010 Professional Technical Preview installed on it.

The workstation is SBS 2003 integrated with Windows Vista Business SP2 as the base operating system.

This is what Outlook 2010 looks like when it fires up for the first time on a system with a rather large mailbox:


Be prepared to wait for that little window to run through all of the folders in Outlook before Outlook itself will open.

Now, once everything was installed, activated, and happy we left the workstation alone overnight to allow the Windows Indexing service the time it needs to cache all of that stuff.

The next morning, this is what we found:


We put in the name of one of our clients looking for a specific e-mail. And, we get:


Outlook Search

No matches found for “scott”.

Now, there should be lots of items found since we have no less that three client contacts that share that name as either their first or last name!

Manually sort our e-mail folder by name and we find:


Okay, so something is not hooking up in the search service.

When we look at the status of the Indexing service we see:


There are over 75,000 items seemingly indexed! That sure does not jibe with what is happening in Outlook though.

What we need to do is to reset the Index service so that whatever missing Outlook content gets re-indexed.

In Windows Vista or Windows 7 click Start –> Index [Enter].

Click the Advanced button and through the UAC.

Click the Restore Defaults button:

09-09-18 Outlook Not Indexing - Force Reindex by Restore to Defaults

A warning will pop up:

09-09-18 Outlook Not Indexing - Force Reindex by Restore to Defaults - Are You Sure

Take note of any custom index locations in the initial Index service window as they will need to be added back after the reboot.

Click OK and reboot the system. After a couple of hours the Index service should have some positive results. It did in our case. 

UPDATE 2011-08-03: The proper procedure is:

  1. Open Windows Explorer.
  2. ALT --> Folder Options 
  3. Search Tab
  4. Restore Defaults
  5. Reboot


Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

*All Mac on SBS posts will not be written on a Mac until we replace our now missing iMac! (previous blog post)

Windows Live Writer


Anonymous said...

A new Outlook means new problems. I am looking forward to the time when Outlook 2010 is released and thousands of users will complain on the internet how crappy the search is, how many new problems appeared, how the wanted to throw their computer out of the window(s) ;). And I will sit here read all these articles and I'll have to laugh so hard, that tears will come to my eyes. Why am I so relaxed? Because I gave up on the search integrated in Outlook a long time ago to use lookeen. For all of you who want to avoid anger and frustration go to, maybe you'll like it.

Frederick Szczepanski said...

What I don't understand is why Microsoft bought Lookout search (the best search program ever... seriously) and then turned it into the piece of crap known as Windows Search.

Anonymous said...

Whoever said would help, hasnt used it in a while. It is not compatible with 2007 or 2010, nor does is suppport vista or win7. This is a dead program.

Anonymous said...

I had the same problem with searching in Outlook 2010 Beta. Your solution fixed the problem. Thanks. My last problem is that I cannot open my "archive deleted" file. Outlook stops working & closes if I attempt to open it. Works fine in Outlook 2007. All other files work fine in Outlook 2010 including associated searches.

Philip Elder Cluster MVP said...


Run ScanPST against that archive to make sure it is clean.


Anonymous said...

I have run "compact" file option, but how do I specifically "Run ScanPST"?

Anonymous said...

I have "drilled down" to the root .pst file & right clicked & no virus has been detected.

Philip Elder Cluster MVP said...


ScanPST should be in the Office folder under Program Files (or Program Files (x86).

You run it, open the PST in question, and let it do its thing.

Make sure you have a backup of the PST first.


Corbett said...

Exchange 2010 and Outlook 2010/2007... search is one of two modes:

In cache mode, Search in outlook is performed by the local search client. In Online mode, Search is performed (and maintained) on the Exchange server. If you are running Exchange 2010 and Outlook is in online mode (not cache mode) and you get no search results, look at the Exchange Server as the source of your problem.

Anonymous said...

I have run ScanPST under Program Files on my Archive Deleted file & it carried out a "repair" of the file.
However Outlook 2010 will still not let me open my Archive Deleted file. I then copied this same archive.pst file back to my old PC with Outlook 2007 installed, & I can open this file without a problem. Any other ideas? Many thanks.

Michael Tissington said...

This does not fix the main problem. Sure it does force a reindex of the current state of Outlook. However if you lookin in the Outlook Addins you will see that Windows Search has been disabled ... this is the root of the problem ... Microsoft needs to figure out why this keeps getting disabled.

robgerwing said...

Outlook 2010 Running Professional Vista 64bit - Solution Found!

My search is broke, but found the fix! I tried everything on all the googled links too.

I have Vista 64 bit. I was running Outlook 2010 Beta and then recently upgraded to full version Outlook 2010 and my search stopped working as many others. I tried many things, but what finally fixed the problem was I went into File,Options,Search,Advanced --> Restore Defaults. Rebooted and ran reindex and still didn't work, but...

Then I decide to run the Office Setup file again and run "Repair" Option, and then it started working again.

So definitely try running "Repair" from office setup too..

Unknown said...

Here is a thorough description of yet another solution to this many-sided problem:

After (1) knowing that the user had Local Administrator rights and did not use "Run as..." to launch Outlook; (2) removing/reinstalling Windows Search; (3) rebuilding the Windows Search index; (4) confirming that the "PreventIndexingOutlook" registry key did not even exist; (5) repairing Office 2010; and (6) realizing that part of the problem lay in the stubbornly-disabled Windows Search Email Indexer COM-Addin; (7) I installed both the Microsoft Office 2010 Filter Packs and the latest Microsoft Updates. Upon restart, Outlook suddenly was working normally.

This computer is running Windows 7 and Office 2010 Standard, both 32-bit.
I suspect that we experienced this problem because Office 2010 Beta had been previously installed, and its Outlook has known problems with search. I suppose that whatever search disability in the beta carried over when we installed the full version, and the Microsoft Updates and/or Office 2010 Filter Packs resolved it.
Link to Filter Packs:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting... I don't have a "Restore defaults" button in the advanced indexing options. Only the rebuild button...

Unknown said...

A delayed amendment to my August 25th post:
The steps that I tried only worked until the next Outlook restart...definitely not the long-term solution that I had anticipated.

Real solution:
1. Open Control Panel
2. Open "Programs and Features"
3. Click on "Turn Windows features on or off"
4. Check the box for "Indexing Service".
5. Click "OK" and allow the feature to install.
6. Reboot.
7. Upon bootup, launch Outlook 2010.

The ToolTip of the Indexing Service feature describes it as " optional feature for backwards compatibility only," but my Outlook 2010 installation seems dependent upon it.
Note: I did not have to enable the disabled indexing COM-addin for Outlook.
Again, this problem occurred on a 32-bit Windows 7 Professional machine that previously had Office 2010 Beta, and was later upgraded to Office 2010 Standard.

zamo said...

Had issues by searching contacts in my Outlook 2010. Fixing it now with this tip. Thanks

Anonymous said...

There is no menu for "restore defaults" in the location specified in your post, so the tip is useless. Outlook 2010 does not have a "restore defaults" button under the rebuild index button

Philip Elder Cluster MVP said...


Indeed you are correct! Something has changed since this was published.

Open Windows Explorer.
ALT --> Folder Options.
Search Tab.
Restore Defaults.

Thanks for pointing that out.