Methods for Fixing Instant Search Outlook Without A Tool

safe mode

Search is the most essential feature provided by applications that make life simpler by finding us the things that are looked for. However, our dependency over these facilitating features has made it difficult to find survival without them available at all times. Technology is like that, at times it tends to fail and especially at one of those times when you really need it.

Following is a discussion based on one such failures of technology and the procedure of troubleshooting it. Outlook being a common personal data manager application amongst all groups of users makes the following information useful for corporate as well as home based users in fixing instant search Outlook.

Search and Its Essentiality

he search feature in Microsoft Outlook is bundled with a number of filters that makes it easier for users to search with properly defined criteria for finding a particular item. Almost regularly, this feature works absolutely fine without giving the user a hard time. However, situation where a moment of halt is surfaced is when you realize that something is wrong with the search feature.

The search doesn’t display a result and only shows results from a particular date. The indexing process goes on without an end.

Verify the Problem

Outlook 2007, 2010, 2013, & 2016 are the latest versions in use and the ones that have encountered the issue of Instant Search not working in Outlook.

Before starting to troubleshoot, it is necessary to check whether any PST or mailbox has been marked for indexing or not.

NOTE: The version of Outlook used here is 2010. The procedure might differ slightly in other version of the client.

  1. Go to File menu and click on Options
  2. Click on the Search button and click on Indexing Options in it
  3. Click on the button that reads Modify
  4. Now expand the Microsoft Outlook drop down arrow
  5. Doing this will display your PST files (profiles). Ensure that all of them are listed and selected too. If any of the PST is not listed on the screen, there is an immediate need to recreate the respective profile.

The PST files that are not listed are generally the corrupt ones. This state of the file can be resolved with the help of Scanpst utility (an inbuilt provided by Microsoft for fixing Outlook data file). If the repair was successful, run Outlook client and leave it on idle more for some time to let indexing take place and then check the status by following the given steps:

  • Click on the Search field to view the Search Tools on the Ribbon.
  • Now click on Search Tools drop down in the Options section and select Indexing Status

NOTE: The time taken for a file’s indexing might differ in each case based on the size of the PST. Size of the PST determines what amount of time it will take Outlook to index the file. However, if the procedure takes more than 30 minutes, then the file is still in trouble.

Alternative At Rescue

As an alternative in a situation like the one discussed above one can disable and re-enable the PST. Following are the steps for doing the same:

Go to the Search Options
Deselect the data file having problems
Close you Outlook client and wait for a moment
Verify in Task Manager that the application is closed by going to the Processes tab
A lot of disk activity might be experienced in the meantime, as the indexer will remove the items that have already been indexed.
Once done, run Outlook and go to the Search Option again.
Select the PST you had deselected previously then leave the computer idle for some time.
Check later whether the status reaches at the point of - ‘0 items remaining

Rebuild Index

The above-suggested method will not work only if the index has got damaged in the process. For resetting the state do the following:

  • Go to File menu, click on Options
  • Select Search section and click on Indexing Options
  • Once you reach the Indexing Options window, click on Advanced button
  • Under Troubleshooting section, click on Rebuild

TIP: You can also reach the applet by typing ‘Indexing’ in the search field provided on Control Panel window.

This will help you rebuild the Index right from the scratch. However, this is based on the level of documents that have to be indexed in the process. Having the index rebuilt during the night is highly advised as the process takes up most of the processing speed of the computer.


Suggested above are some of the possibly applicable solutions for fixing instant search Outlook. However, there is a possibility that they may not work out in some cases depending on the intensity of the issue. Therefore, other troubleshooting options that can be taken into consideration are to reset the index of the client or reinstall search feature on Windows. Other than that, contacting the Microsoft support would be the final resort for overcoming the problem. Just in case the PST file corruption is what is troubling you the most, a third party application can be put to use.