How To Fix File Explorer Search Not Working Error

File Explorer is an essential tool in Windows, offering an easy way to navigate, manage, and search for files and folders. However, users may sometimes encounter an issue where File Explorer’s search function stops working properly, leading to frustration and decreased productivity.

This article delves into the meaning of the “File Explorer search not working” error, explores its possible causes, and provides a comprehensive guide to resolving the issue.

File Explorer Search Not Working


What Does the “File Explorer Search Not Working” Error Mean?

The “File Explorer search not working” error refers to any situation where the search box in File Explorer either does not respond, fails to display results, or displays incomplete or outdated results.

This issue can significantly hinder your ability to find files and folders, affecting your workflow and overall user experience on Windows.

Causes of the File Explorer Search Not Working Error

Several factors can contribute to the malfunctioning of File Explorer’s search feature:

1. Corrupted System Files: Damaged or missing system files can interfere with File Explorer’s functionality, including its search feature.

2. Outdated or Faulty Windows Updates: Sometimes, specific updates can introduce bugs affecting File Explorer’s search.

3. Improper Indexing Options: File Explorer relies on indexing to provide quick search results. Incorrectly configured indexing options or a corrupted index can result in search errors.

4. Third-party Software Conflicts: Certain applications or add-ons can conflict with File Explorer, disrupting its search capability.

Methods to Fix File Explorer Search Not Working Error

Method 1: Restart File Explorer

  1. Open Task Manager by pressing Ctrl + Shift + Esc.
  2. Find File Explorer in the list, right-click it, and select Restart. This can resolve temporary glitches affecting the search function.

Method 2: Run the Search and Indexing Troubleshooter

  1. Open Settings (Win + I), go to Update & Security > Troubleshoot > Additional troubleshooters.
  2. Select Search and Indexing, then click Run the troubleshooter. Follow the prompts to fix issues related to search functionality.

Method 3: Rebuild the Search Index

  1. Open Control Panel, navigate to Indexing Options, and click Advanced.
  2. Under the Troubleshooting section, click Rebuild. This process can take some time but can effectively resolve issues by creating a fresh index.

Method 4: Check for Windows Updates

Ensure your system is up to date by checking for and installing any available Windows updates:

  1. Go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update.
  2. Click Check for updates and install any available updates.

Method 5: Use System File Checker (SFC)

  1. Open Command Prompt as Administrator by right-clicking the Start button and selecting Windows PowerShell (Admin) or Command Prompt (Admin).
  2. Type sfc /scannow and press Enter. This tool scans and repairs corrupted system files that could be causing the search issue.

Method 6: Disable Third-party Conflicts

If you’ve recently installed new software before encountering the search issue, consider uninstalling it to check if it resolves the problem. Alternatively, perform a clean boot to disable non-essential applications and services that might be causing a conflict.

Advanced Troubleshooting Techniques

When basic troubleshooting doesn’t resolve the File Explorer search not working error, it’s time to consider more advanced methods that delve deeper into Windows’ workings.

System Restore

If File Explorer’s search function was working correctly at a previous point, performing a system restore can revert your system’s state to a time when everything was functioning as expected. This process can undo recent changes that might have disrupted the search functionality without affecting personal files.

  1. Access System Restore by typing “Create a restore point” in the Windows search box and hitting Enter.
  2. System Properties will open. Click on the System Restore button and follow the prompts to select a restore point where File Explorer search was operational.

Windows PowerShell Commands

PowerShell offers a more granular control over Windows functionalities, including the ability to reset and repair system components related to search indexing.

  1. Open PowerShell as Administrator by right-clicking the Start button and selecting “Windows PowerShell (Admin)”.
  2. Execute the command Get-AppXPackage -Name Microsoft.Windows.Cortana | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register "$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml"} to re-register Cortana packages, which are closely linked with search functionalities in Windows.

Understanding and Enhancing Indexing

The effectiveness of File Explorer’s search feature is largely dependent on Windows’ indexing service, which catalogs files and folders to facilitate quicker searches. Understanding and optimizing this service can prevent future issues and enhance search performance.

Customize Indexing Locations

Customizing which locations Windows indexes can significantly improve search efficiency and reduce the likelihood of errors. By ensuring only essential folders are indexed, you can streamline the indexing process and maintain a more robust search database.

  1. Access Indexing Options through the Control Panel.
  2. Click Modify to select or deselect folders for indexing according to your preferences and needs.

Optimize Indexing for Performance

Windows allows users to tweak how indexing operates, which can be particularly beneficial for systems with limited resources.

  1. In the Advanced Options of Indexing Options, adjust settings for indexing to prioritize either system performance or search speed, depending on your specific requirements.

Long-term Strategies for File Management and Search Optimization

Beyond troubleshooting, adopting long-term strategies for file management can mitigate issues with File Explorer’s search functionality.

Regular Maintenance

Regularly performing system maintenance tasks such as disk cleanup, defragmentation (for HDDs), and scanning for malware can keep your system running smoothly, indirectly benefiting File Explorer’s search feature.

Organized File Management

Adopting a logical and organized approach to file storage can reduce dependency on search functionalities. Use clear naming conventions and organize files into well-structured folders to make manual navigation more intuitive.

Utilize Cloud Storage Solutions

For critical files, consider using cloud storage solutions like OneDrive, which offers its search capabilities and can serve as a backup should local search functionalities encounter issues.

The Future of File Search in Windows

Looking ahead, Microsoft continues to refine and enhance the search experience in Windows, integrating AI and cloud computing technologies to provide more accurate, context-aware search results.

Staying updated on these advancements and adapting to new search tools and functionalities as they become available can ensure a more resilient and efficient search experience.


The “File Explorer search not working” error can be a significant inconvenience, but it’s often resolvable through the methods outlined above.

By understanding the potential causes and systematically applying these fixes, users can restore File Explorer’s search functionality and ensure a smoother, more efficient file management experience in Windows.

Remember, maintaining your system with regular updates and system checks can prevent many common issues, including problems with File Explorer.

FAQ: File Explorer Search Not Working in Windows 10/11

Q1: Why is my File Explorer search not showing any results?

A1: This can happen due to several reasons, including issues with the Windows search service, corrupted system files, improper indexing settings, or network connectivity problems if your files are stored in cloud-based locations.

Q2: How can I quickly fix the File Explorer search?

A2: A quick fix often involves restarting the File Explorer process via Task Manager, running the Search and Indexing troubleshooter, or restarting your computer to refresh the system’s state.

Q3: What is indexing, and why is it important for File Explorer search?

A3: Indexing is a process where Windows creates a database of the files and folders on your system, allowing for quicker search results. Proper indexing is crucial for the efficiency and accuracy of File Explorer’s search functionality.

Q4: How do I rebuild the search index in Windows 10/11?

A4: You can rebuild the index by going to Control Panel > Indexing Options > Advanced > Rebuild. Note that rebuilding the index can take a significant amount of time, depending on the number of files and folders you have.

Q5: Will using the System File Checker (SFC) scan affect my personal files?

A5: No, running an SFC scan does not affect personal files. It scans and repairs corrupted system files that might be causing issues with File Explorer search or other system functionalities.

Q6: Can third-party software affect File Explorer’s search functionality?

A6: Yes, some third-party applications, especially those that modify system settings or behaviors, can conflict with File Explorer’s search feature. Consider any recent software installations as potential causes if search issues arise.

Q7: What should I do if File Explorer’s search is still not working after trying all suggested fixes?

A7: If the issue persists, consider creating a new user profile to see if the problem is isolated to your current profile. If that doesn’t work, contacting Microsoft Support for further assistance may be necessary.

Q8: Is it possible to use alternative search tools for Windows?

A8: Yes, several third-party search tools can serve as alternatives or supplements to File Explorer’s built-in search. These tools may offer different features or indexing options that could suit your needs better.

Q9: How can I prevent File Explorer search issues in the future?

A9: Regular system maintenance, including updating Windows, running malware scans, and clearing temporary files, can help prevent many common issues. Additionally, managing and organizing your files effectively can reduce reliance on deep search functionalities.

Q10: Are File Explorer search issues common after Windows updates?

A10: While not common, some users have reported issues with File Explorer search following certain Windows updates. Keeping your system updated and monitoring official channels for known issues and fixes can help mitigate these problems.

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