Skip to main content

How to fix search problems in Windows 10

How to fix taskbar search not working in Windows 10
How to fix taskbar search not working in Windows 10

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Editor's note from February 5, 2020: Some Windows 10 users appear to be experiencing an issue with task bar search, in which the box appears blank and does not display search results. We've investigated the issue and have found a solution linked to disabling Bing integration with searches. A recommended fix and the steps necessary are below.

On Windows 10, Windows Search is an essential feature that allows you to find virtually anything on your computer (such as documents, pictures, videos, system files, apps, emails, and settings) very quickly. Also, thanks to its integration with Bing search, you can use the feature for quick access to web pages and answers to common questions from the result preview.

Although search is a useful functionality that we take for granted every day, it'll come the time when it'll stop working as intended. For example, sometimes, search queries will show none or incomplete results. The search box in the taskbar will turn unresponsive or won't open at all, and more.

Whatever the reason it may be, if you're having problems with Windows Search on Windows 10, there are several troubleshooting steps you can follow to resolve the most common issues, including when your device received a buggy update that breaks the experience.

In this Windows 10 guide, we'll walk you through the steps to troubleshoot and fix problems with the search feature on your device.

Remove Bing from Windows 10 Search

In light of the recent Windows 10 Search issues where nothing is displayed in the bar or window, many have found a fix by disabling Bing integration. This does require working with RegEdit, so doing a backup of both your PC and its registry are recommended.

Once you've performed any necessary backups, run through these steps to get local Search working again. Web results will not display while Bing is disabled. Multiple people here at Windows Central have performed the same steps with success.

  1. Hit the Windows Key + R shortcut on your keyboard.
  2. Type regedit and hit Enter on your keyboard.
  3. Double-click HKEY_CURRENT_USER.
  4. Double-click SOFTWARE.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Double-click Microsoft.
  2. Double-click Windows.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Double-click CurrentVersion.
  2. Double-click Search.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Right-click the right pane of the RegEdit window to bring up the menu.
  2. Click New.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click D-WORD (32-bit) Value.
  2. Type BingSearchEnabled and hit Enter on your keyboard.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Double-click the BingSearchEnabled entry you just created.
  2. Type 0 in the Value data field. (It should already be 0 but make sure).

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click OK.
  2. Double-click CortanaConsent.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Type 0 in the data field.
  2. Click OK.
  3. Restart your PC.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

This should bring Windows 10 Search back online, at least with local results. This is a temporary fix while Microsoft addresses the core root of the problem, and it's recommended that users undo the changes once Search is working again as intended.

To undo the process above, repeat steps 13 and 14, but type a 1 in the BingSearchEnabled data field to re-enable Bing. The same can be done for steps 16 and 17, with a 1 in the CortanaConsent data field. Restart your PC and you should be back where you started.

How to fix search using Troubleshooter

If you're having problems searching on Windows 10 and restarting your device doesn't resolve the problem, then you can use the Troubleshooter settings to diagnose and fix the most common issues. And you can perform this task from the Settings app or Command Prompt.

Repairing search with Settings

To fix the search functionality with the Settings app, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Update & Security.
  3. Click on Troubleshoot.
  4. Under the "Find and fix other problems" section, select the search and Indexing option.
  5. Click the Run the troubleshooter button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Check the problems that best describe your situation — for example, Files don't appear in search results option.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Next button.
  2. Continue with the on-screen directions (if applicable).

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Once you complete the steps, the search feature should start working again on your computer.

Repairing search with Command Prompt

Alternatively, you can also start the Troubleshooter using Command Prompt:

  1. Use the Windows key + R keyboard shortcut to open the Run command.
  2. Type the following command and click the OK button:cmd
  3. Type the following command to launch the troubleshooter and press Enter:msdt -ep WindowsHelp id SearchDiagnostic

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Advanced option.
  2. Check the Apply repairs automatically option.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Next button.
  2. Check the problems that best describe your situation.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Next button.
  2. Continue with the on-screen directions (if applicable).

After you complete the steps, the Search and Indexing troubleshooter will scan and fix the most common problems with the feature.

How to fix search using restart option

You can also restart the Windows 10 process that controls the search elements using these steps:

  1. Right-click the taskbar and select the Task Manager option.Quick tip: Alternatively, you can open Task Manager using the Ctrl + Shift + Esc keyboard shortcut or using the Ctrl + Alt + Del shortcut and selecting the Task Manager item.
  2. Click the Details tab.
  3. Right-click the SearchUI.exe process and select the End task button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the End process button.

Once you complete the steps, the process should restart automatically. If it doesn't restart immediately, reboot your computer, and then confirm if the search has been fixed.

How to fix search using reset option

If Windows Search still not working on Windows 10, then you may be able to fix the problem by resetting the feature. However, the reset process will depend upon the version of the OS currently installed on your computer.

Checking Windows 10 version

To determine the version of Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Devices.
  3. Click on About.
  4. Under the "Windows Specifications" section, confirm the version of Windows 10.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

After you complete the steps, you'll know the version of Windows 10 running on the computer.

Reset search on Windows 10 version 1903

If your device is running Windows 10 version 1903, May 2019 Update, then to reset the search feature, use these steps:

  1. Open Microsoft Download center website (opens in new tab).
  2. Click the Download button under the Reset Windows search PowerShell script section.
  3. Save the .ps1 file to your computer — for example, in the "Downloads" folder.
  4. Right-click the Start button, and select the Windows PowerShell (Admin) option.Quick tip: Alternatively, you can also open PowerShell using the Windows key + R keyboard shortcut, typing the PowerShell command, and using the Ctrl + Shift + Enter shortcut to trigger the command as administrator.
  5. Type the following command to determine current script execution setting and press Enter:Get-ExecutionPolicy
  6. Confirm the execution policy — for example, Restricted.
  7. Type the following command to allow scripts to run on your device and press Enter:Set-ExecutionPolicy -Scope CurrentUser -ExecutionPolicy Unrestricted
  8. Type Y and press Enter (if applicable).
  9. Type the following command to run the script and press Enter:& "C:\Users\YOUR-ACCOUNT-FOLDER\Downloads\ResetWindowssearchBox.ps1"In the command, make sure to replace "YOUR-ACCOUNT-FOLDER," for your account folder name.
  10. Type R and press Enter.
  11. Type the following command to set the original execution policy the script and press Enter:Set-ExecutionPolicy -Scope CurrentUser -ExecutionPolicy RestrictedIn this example, the Restricted option was added, because it was the original setting. If you had a different policy, make sure to change it before running the command.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Type Y and press Enter.

Once you complete the steps, search should start working as before.

Reset search on Windows 10 version 1809

If your device is running Windows 10 version 18069, October 2018 Update, or an earlier release, then to reset the search feature, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Right-click Cortana from the "All apps" list.
  3. Select the More option.
  4. Click the App settings option.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Reset button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

After you complete the steps, the reset process should fix the problem, and the search box in the taskbar should work as expected.

How to fix search using Index Settings

The indexing feature can also cause problems that can prevent returning search results on your device.

If you have tried all the previous instructions, you can try rebuilding the index database to fix search problems on Windows 10.

To rebuild the search index on your device, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Search.
  3. Click on Searching Windows.Quick tip: If you're using Windows 10 version 1809 or earlier, open Control Panel, click the View by menu in the top-right corner, and select the Large icons view, and click the Indexing Options to continue.
  4. Click the Advanced search Indexer Settings option.Quick tip: In the case that search does not return results for contents from a particular folder, it's also a good idea to check the "Excluded Folders" section as search will ignore the contents of any folder in this list. If the folder you want to search is part of the excluded list, select it, and click the Remove button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Advanced button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Index Settings tab.
  2. Under the "Troubleshooting" section, click the Rebuild button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the OK button.

Once you complete the steps, Windows 10 will clear and rebuild the index database. However, while the database is rebuilding, searches from the taskbar, File Explorer, and across the OS might be incomplete until all the files are indexed again.

Restarting Windows Search

In the rare case that you see searches without results, and you can't access the Indexing settings, then the Windows Search service may be disabled on your computer.

To enable the indexing and search service, use these steps:

  1. Use the Windows key + R keyboard shortcut to open the Run command.
  2. Type the following command and click the OK button:services.msc
  3. Double-click the Windows Search service.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click on the General tab.
  2. Use the "Startup type" menu and select the Automatic (Delayed Start) option.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Click the Apply button.
  3. Click the OK button.

After you complete the steps, Windows Search will enable on your computer, and you should be able to start searching for files and apps for taskbar and File Explorer again.

How to fix search using Windows Update

On Windows 10, quality updates can include fixes for the search functionality, but they can also be the reason for the feature to break.

Fixing search installing update

If you haven't updated Windows 10 for a while, perhaps the latest update may include a fix for Windows Search.

To update Windows 10 to the latest release, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Update & Security.
  3. Click on Windows Update.
  4. Click the Check for updates button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Restart now button.

After you complete the steps, the latest maintenance update should resolve any search problems on your computer.

Fixing search removing update

Although Microsoft strives to release updates to improve the overall experience of Windows 10, sometimes a buggy update may do its way onto devices breaking features, such as search.

If you suspect that a recent update is the reason that Windows Search search is broken, then use these steps to remove it:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Update & Security.
  3. Click on Windows Update.
  4. Click the View update history option.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Uninstall updates option.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Select the latest update installed on your computer.
  2. Click the Uninstall button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Yes button.
  2. Restart the device.

Once you complete the steps, the problematic update will be removed from Windows 10, fixing any search problems, and the same update shouldn't download and install automatically until the company releases a follow-up release.

Cale Hunt
Cale Hunt

Cale Hunt is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on laptop reviews, news, and accessory coverage. He's been reviewing laptops and accessories full time since 2016, with hundreds of reviews published for Windows Central. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.

35 Comments
  • useful tips. Fingers crossed I never have to use them and things will be fixed via windows update. It saddens me that bing/cortana search is not supported in windows search everywhere by default due to deficiecies in language support. I hope microsoft ramps up their agenada on this soon. 12 months ago Belfiore announced more languages from june 2016.Partly true, but still not complete. I hope they share some news on when cortana will come for more languages soon. Windows search is only limited to system wide search. For bing I have to workaround by opening edge every time. Was far easier when "web: ...." search query was supported a couple of builds ago.
  • I've been dealing with this about 2x a week. Sometimes restarting doesn't even resolve it...I just leave it and notice it's back to working after a few restarts.
  • Troubleshooting didn't find any problem, but somehow it now works.
  • In my observation, this seems to happen more often on lower-speced machines than not. Somehow I suspect there's a hidden Windows 10 feature that disables it for PCs on which search results may take longer than usual to show up.
  • hi,i've been having this problem for a few days and i mangaed to fix it after attempting evry fix on the internet  nothing worked for me besides this! what i did was pretty simple,just make another microsoft account on your pc log into it make sure serch and cortana is working on your new account,then log out and log back into your main account That's it!hope it works for you.
  • Did not winot work for me... "-=(
  • If you have added additional monitor to your laptop(Not with Docking station ) or desktop and made that newly added monitor as primary, this issue occurs. set laptop monitor as primary or at desktop change VGA ports. Issue resolves.
  • Thanks it's work
  • It worked perfectly. My search results for *.doc  and other files on all my other hard drives show up now. The settings I was direceted to go to were already set correctly, so I just disabled them then reapplyed them... and it all works fine now.  - Thanks! -
  • Restarting the Windows Explorer did the trick for me.
  • Ok ... I found out what was causing this issue ... at least for me. First I tried the methods descibed on this post which sometimes worked ... and if it did work, It only worked for one search and would have to go through the whole process again.  How I sovled the issue ... 1st ... thing I did was ... clean install of Windows 10 Pro. 2nd ... installed all up to date drivers, then checking Windows 10 search working after each driver is installed. With all drivers installed all is working ok. 3rd ... I installed a virtual Windows 10 Pro using Virtual box and just started to re-install all my app's ... etc. The culprit in my case ... Zemma AntiLogger Free version (which is a key logger protection software) was causing the issue. Once I turned off the Key Stroke Encryption ... it began working just fine. Confirmed issue by installing on real machine and issuie came and gone as I turned off and on the Key Stroke Encryption. So you may not be using this software ... but there are many Internet Security software that provide this now. So hopes this helps ... 
  • EXCELLENT - I would have never thought of this as the culprit. I have had this ZEMANA ANTI-LOGGER installed since I update to WIN10. I like it and I never have checked it since it was installed. I just never would have thought that as being the cause of the SEARCH BOX not accepting any text entry issues. Great "t-shooting" skills. Thank You. mgbjay
  • OMG!  Why would anyone trust a 3rd party applcation to capture all of their keystrokes?  I am not surpised that it messed up the operating system features.  I will not be surprised if Zemma gets hacked to send all of your keystrokes to the hacker.
  • Thank you so much, that fixed it for me too
  • Sadly, no, I can't search. I can type just one letter but no more. Search does return files that have the one letter as first but that's all.  
  • It seems that Windows 10 needs a large Paging file (in my case 2Gb) in order to mantain  Windows Search running. Go to Control Panel > type Performance in search box  > Adjust the appearance... > Advanced > Change > Initial/Maximum Size 2000Mb. A permanent solution for me.(Windows Search service must be enabled).
  • Setting a Paging file of 2000Mb solved the problem for me.
  • Turning on run windows explorer in a separate process option in folder settings can help prevent this also (and some other explorer related issues.
  • Wish this article had come out a week ago. Cortana / taskbar went into meltdown, keep defaulting all searches from edge to internet explorer and finally stopped working altogether. I ended up completely resetting my SP4. Friggin nightmare :(
  • My taskbar search do not work as i well and trully disabled cortana, renembed the folrder so it can not start. 
    But good tips for people who have problems and want to use the taskbar search.  
  • The simplest solution I've discovered for this issue on Insider builds was to simply change Cortana's default language, test the search and return the language back.
  • Personally, I think I would have looked to see if the Search Service is running or not earlier. That's just personal preference.
  • Restarting Windows Explorer did the trick
  • I just disabled Cortana, first of all I deleted the folder, but I found a reg edit that works, so I use that,, just a normal Windows search and no problem with it. So maybe it is cortana that mucks up and stop it working.  
  • Another fix to add to the list: A while back, on both my Surface Pro 3 & 4, when I wanted to search the web using Cortana on the taskbar, it would open the results in Internet Explorer. It was frustrating stuff. I had every default set to Edge, but Cortana's web search feature would ignore those defaults and open in Explorer. The fix is this: head to the settings tab in Edge, by clicking on the 3 dots on the top right of the Edge page, click view advanced settings and TURN OFF optimise taskbar web search results for screen readers. Cannot tell you how many failed calls to Microsoft support it took before some brainiac got in touch with me and suggested this easy fix.
  • Oh for the love of God Windows Central! A regurgitated article from 2016! WTH!
  • The article fails to deal with Search working but being very slow. In my case Services days that search is running. However, in Details that whilst Search Indexer is running SearchUI is shown as Suspended under Status and Disabled under UAC. Any ideas of there?
  • OMG OMG OMG - Thank you so VERY much!!! This had been a relatively minor problem ever since I got this computer over a year ago, but it suddenly became intolerable - NO searching was working whatsoever! As far as I can tell after a few quick checks, the removal of Bing integration solved it completely!
  • Cool, thanks, useful.
  • "Remove Bing from Windows 10 Search" option solved the problem. Thank you!
  • Thanks for posting this with such a accurate detail and easy to follow steps. It fixed my problem with the search bar. :D
  • This solved my problem
    Running over cmd: Get-AppxPackage Microsoft.Windows.Cortana | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register "$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml"}
  • Thank you , this worked perfectly
  • Search wasn't working and now it is. Legends
  • THANK YOU! Easy fix