Windows 10 search not working – fix

Searching through the Windows 7 taskbar was really fast and efficient. The Windows 10 version seems more problematic than the old one: sometimes it doesn’t find what we need, and sometimes the search bar seems to be simply stuck and unresponsive. The root cause of Windows 10 search not working can due to many different reasons. This may due to some service on the operating system, or because of a search index that needs to be reorganized. We will go through the fixing process step by step. Follow the steps and try your search bar after each step until it works.

Quick Jump

First of all, restart your computer and try again

Restarting your computer is the best first step you can make. Many issues can be temporary and a simple restart can put things back together correctly. To do so:

  • Open your start menu using the Windows icon or key.
  • Click on the power icon.
  • Click restart.restart-pc-try-again-01

If the problem still persists, keep following the next steps.

Now, try to repair your Windows System Files

In case there is a problem with some system files, this step will fix all system errors (it will take some time):

  • Press your Windows logo key + and select Command Prompt (Admin).restart-pc-try-again-02
  • Click Yes to give it permission.restart-pc-try-again-03
  • Type the following command then press enter:

sfc /scannow

(make sure you put a space between “sfc” and “/scannow”)

  • After it finishes, restart your computer and try your search again.

Now, time to restart Cortana

If your Windows 10 search bar is not working still, or not finding what you’re looking for, restarting Cortana can sometimes help. Follow these steps:

  • Right-click on any empty area in your taskbar and choose Task Manager.restart-cortana-01
  • If you see the small panel, click More details to switch to the big panel.restart-cortana-02
  • In the Processes tab, scroll until you see Cortana, right-click on it and choose End task.restart-cortana-03
  • The Cortana process restarts automatically after it’s been shut by the user so no worries.
  • Now try to use the taskbar search again and see if it works.
  • If the problem persists, try to completely disable Cortana (the guide will open in a new tab).

Let’s check Windows search service

Windows search is a service running in the background. By default, it’s set to start automatically when Windows starts up. What are we going to do is restart the service itself and recheck its startup mode:

  • Type “run” in your start menu and choose Run or press Windows key + R to launch it.
  • Type services.msc and then click OK.check-windows-search-service-01
  • Scroll down to Windows search. Right-click on it and choose restart.check-windows-search-service-02
  • Now, right-click on it again and choose Properties.check-windows-search-service-03
  • In the General tab, make sure the startup type to Automatic or Automatic (Delayed Start) but I would prefer the first choice.check-windows-search-service-04
  • In the Recovery tab, make sure the after failure actions are set to Restart the Service and then click Ok.check-windows-search-service-05

Next up are more solutions for people who can type into their search bar, but are not getting the results they want (or not getting any results at all).

Rebuild your search index

“Search Index” is a list of places where Windows 10 looks for the files or programs you’re looking for. If you can type the search words into the search bar but not getting results, it may be that the search index defaults are excluding some places to search in. Follow these steps to rebuild the search index so that it will include everything:

  • Press your Windows logo Key to launch your Run app and then type control panel then press Enter or click Ok.rebuild-search-index-01
  • Type “indexing options” in the search area and choose Indexing options.rebuild-search-index-02
  • A window will show up, click Advanced.rebuild-search-index-03
  • Click Rebuild. This will delete and rebuild your index.rebuild-search-index-04
  • Click OK.rebuild-search-index-05
  • Now let’s add some missing directories and remove those you don’t need. To do so click Modify.rebuild-search-index-06
  • Click Show all locations.rebuild-search-index-07
  • Check the locations you want to add and uncheck those you want to remove. Be careful, the larger your search index the slower your search will be, so try not to add useless directories. After finishing editing your list click OK.rebuild-search-index-08
  • Click Close.rebuild-search-index-09
  • Restart your computer and retry searching again.

If it’s not working yet, let’s give the troubleshooter a chance

  • Search for “troubleshooting” in control panel and then choose Troubleshooting.give-troubleshooter-a-chance-01
  • Click System and Security.give-troubleshooter-a-chance-02
  • Right-click on Search and Indexing and choose Run as administrator.give-troubleshooter-a-chance-03
  • Click Next.give-troubleshooter-a-chance-04
  • Check the box which says Files don’t appear in search results. Then click Next.give-troubleshooter-a-chance-05
  • Click Close the troubleshooter after it ends scanning and fixing your problem.give-troubleshooter-a-chance-06

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I re-enable Windows Search If I have accidentally turned it off?

For Windows 10:

  • Right click on the empty area in the taskbar.
  • Click Cortana > Show search box. Make sure Show search box is checked.
  • Then see if the search bar shows up in the taskbar.

For Windows 11:

To hide your search box, press and hold (or right-click) the taskbar and go to Taskbar settings. Under Taskbar items, toggle the switch to Off next to Search.

If your search bar is hidden and you want it to show on the taskbar, press and hold (or right-click) the taskbar and go to Taskbar settings. Under Taskbar items, toggle the switch to On next to Search.

Why is my folder search not working?

If the search function inside File Explorer doesn’t work, then you could try an easy fix, namely restarting the application. To restart File Explorer, select the Task Manager by right-clicking on the task bar in Windows 10 or the Start Button in Windows 11 and selecting Task Manager. Alternatively, you can also select Task Manager by Pressing the Windows key + X.

After entering the Task Manager, look for the File Explorer task, right-click on it, and select “End Task.” After that, you’ll want to run the “Run” command by pressing the Windows Key + R. Type “file explorer” and hit enter. Ta-Da! Your File Explorer and its related search function should now work again as intended.

Why does it say that no items match your search?

This happend either because there truly are no items that match your search, the search function doesn’t work correctly, or the index database could be corrupted, thus resulting in this kind of error. To fix this issue, try one of the fixes mentioned in this article and hope for the best. If that still doesn’t work, feel free to contact us or any other specialist in this type of problem.

Final cautions

If you use any Keyloggers or Anti-keyloggers, sometimes they encrypt your keyboard key strokes. That’s why the search service can’t recognize your typed words. So it’s better to shut them down while searching or uninstall them if you can.


  1. Thank you Mina the sfc /scannow fixed my search problem. This is the first solution that actually worked for me after many attempts with other solutions. Will put you in my favorites, Thanks Again.

  2. Your guide uses the search function to run CMD and the Control Panel by searching the start menu. This is the bit of Windows that does not work for me.
    Are there alternative ways of getting to an elevated CMD prompt and the Control Panel that do not use Windows Search?

    • Hello Nigel, yes sure let me show you an alternative way:
      To access your CMD in both normal and admin mode, press your Windows logo key + X and then select any of them from the menu that will pop up.
      You may be able to see the Control Panel at the same list if you don’t have Fall Creators Update but if you can’t find it here’s another way:
      Press your Windows logo key + R to launch Run then type control panel inside it then press Enter or click Ok, you’ll be seeing your control panel in seconds.
      We really appreciate your interaction, please don’t hesitate to ask for our help, we will be glad to help! Have a nice day!

  3. I have never been able to use Search Windows for over a year and searched online repeatedly to no avail. Today, I am happy to say that after following your tutorial it is finally working!!! Your tutorial was so easy to follow and not too much detail. I loved your pictures, they helped too. Thank you!!

    • hello Loralee, thank you so much for your comment, it’s really giving us motivation to keep the good work! I’m happy your problem is finally solved, wish you the best and you’re always welcome :))

  4. Hello! I tried all the steps above. Nothing.
    * Did not even have cortana running when I tried to restart it.
    * Search Window bar is highlighted when I put the mouse above it but I cant type in it.
    * If I click on the speaker icon in the bottom right…nothing happens again.

    Please help!

    • Hello Vik, I think you might have a bigger problem not related to Cortana, but let me think about something.. What about restarting your Windows Explorer? I think this may solve your problem. To do so, open your task manager and look for Windows Explorer in the list. Right-click on it and then choose Restart. I hope this works, let me know if you find something or nothing at all. Good luck!

    • I have manage to fix this issue in my windows10 (amd64)

      1º step – Restore indexing services
      2º step – make a shortcut of %windir%\System32\ctfmom.exe and place it on startup folder ..
      ( now everytime my pc startup it will auto run the ctfmom.exe allowing me to use the search functions )

  5. thank you so much. your solution works for me. your the only one that provided with step by step procedure on how to fix my windows search. as a graphics artist searching files is one important thing that i do in my computer since there are thousands of design thats been save on my hdd.. your a life saver..

    • Hello ryancalino, I’m sorry to hear that. Please make sure you have the latest Windows 10 build by checking for updates. Please do so and come back and I’ll do my best to help you.

    • I have manage to fix this issue in my windows10 (amd64)

      1º step – Restore indexing services
      2º step – make a shortcut of %windir%\System32\ctfmom.exe and place it on startup folder ..
      ( now everytime my pc startup it will auto run the ctfmom.exe allowing me to use the search functions )

  6. Thank you very much! Multiple attempts previously for fixing the search within Windows 10. What worked for me was shutting down Cortana and rebuilding the index. Previously just rebuilding index did not work.
    It is a pity, since quite a lot of efforts were and are made to develop Cortana and seems it is not there yet.

    • Hello Sitari, you’re always welcome. Yeah it’s so bad I hope they improve the overall Windows experience. Have a great day!

  7. Hi Mina, once I run trouble shooting, I get ‘Please check Security and Maintenance for possible solutions to this problem’. Hitting next, provides two problems 1) Windows Search servie not running 2) Windows Search service failed. Tried quite a few solutions I looked up on the internet, to no avail. Any suggestions please ?

    • Hello Pierre, would you try to start this services manually?
      Launch your Run app by pressing Windows Logo key + R and then type services.msc and then press enter.
      Now search for Windows Search service in the list and when you find it, right-click on it and choose Start. You can also check its properties and if it’s not set to Automatic startup, change it yourself.

    • Yes I see they removed it, you can press Windows logo key + R to launch the run app then type cmd and then press enter.

  8. What a great page and useful and effective stuff… Making several attempts to fix the search engine issue in Windows 10, eventually got it fixed through restarting cortana app. I usually don’t leave a comment on pages, however, your page was amazingly concise and to the point that I could not pass by without appreciating your fantastic job. Keep it up Mina!

  9. My SINCERE Thanks (!) for providing this EXCELLENT, Well-Organized solution!

    I looked at few other solutions, but nothing worked. Yours is comprehensive, systematic, and complete.

    I really appreciate the step-wise approach, the accurate screenshots, and (ultimately) my problem is SOLVED!


  10. Hi Mina,

    i hope your still active here, i am also experiencing the same issue. i would love to try your tutorial once i’m home. i hope we can get in touch, my laptop was newly bought yesterday and after updating the system thru the recommended steps my search bar no longer works.

  11. Since Windows 10 latest release is not letting me (and others) type in a search term, what I’m doing is type it into MS Word or whatever, then copy n paste it into the search little window there. That seems to work.

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