Are you having difficulties searching for something on Windows 11? Are wrong files or applications showing up in search results? If so, this is your stop.
Why is the Windows search bar not working?
Feels like a lifetime ago when I faced a similar issue myself on Windows 10, but I successfully solved the problem within a few hours after following multiple tutorials and blogs.
You won’t have to go through all that, though. I have done all the research and testing for you, so all you need to do for the next three minutes is just read. Grab a cup of tea while you are at it and make sure not to skip over anything.
How to Fix Windows 11 Search not Working?
Since Windows 11 launched very recently, you can expect a few bugs here and there but search issues might be appearing from some incorrect settings.
I recommend you perform a simple reboot and see if the Windows search starts to work before diving into the more complex solutions. You can do this from the Start menu or by pressing the Power button on the laptop.
Here are the ways to fix Windows 11 search not working:
1. Run Windows Search Troubleshooters
Windows has an astounding collection of troubleshooters to fix almost any issue if you didn’t already know it. Although they don’t work all the time, you should run them at least once before going to the next fix.
Follow these steps to run Windows search troubleshooters:
- Launch the Run window using the ‘Windows key + R’ shortcut.
- Type ‘Control Panel’ in the text field and click on OK.
- Look for the drop-down selection menu next to ‘View by’ on the top right corner of the Control Panel and click on it. Select ‘small icons’ from the list of options.
- Click on ‘Troubleshooting’ from the list of options that appear.
- On the next page, click on ‘System and Security’ in the Troubleshoot Computer Problems section.
- After that, locate the ‘Search and Indexing’ troubleshooter in the Windows section. Follow the instructions on the window to identify and fix problems.
Also, check out our separate post on how to fix Windows can’t access network drive on Windows 11.
2. Check if Search Icon is Visible on the Taskbar
Making the search button visible on the taskbar has reportedly solved Start menu issues for some users, but it’s a hit or miss situation. Nevertheless, there is no harm in enabling it.
Here are the steps to enable search icon on the taskbar:
- Use the shortcut ‘Windows key + I’ to launch the Windows settings app.
- Click on Personalization on the left panel.
- Next, please scroll down on the right pane and click on the Taskbar when you see it.
- Under Taskbar items on the next page, enable the toggle for ‘Search’.
You may also like to read: keyboard not working on windows 11.
3. Terminate SearchHost Process
You probably don’t know about this, but a process turns on when you open your Windows Start menu for the first time. If that process is malfunctioning, you can terminate that process and try launching the Start menu.
Follow these steps to terminate the SearchHost process:
- Use the shortcut ‘Ctrl + Shift + Esc’ to launch a Task Manager window.
- Switch to the Details tab once the Task Manager loads from the top.
- Once you are in the Details tab, select any service and press the S key on your keyboard. Then, scroll down and right-click on SearchHost.exe and click on ‘End Task’.
Read more on how to find computer name on Windows 11.
4. Reboot Search Service
If the previous method didn’t work, you could try a similar approach where you need to restart a service instead of an executable file.
Here are the steps to reboot the search service:
- Do a right-click on the Start icon on your taskbar, and click on ‘Run’ from the list.
- Type ‘services.msc’ in the text box and hit Enter on your keyboard.
- In the services window, select any service and press the W key on your keyboard. After that, scroll down until you see Windows Search and double-click on it.
- This will open the Properties window where you need to toggle the Startup type to ‘Automatic’. If the status of the service says ‘Stopped’ click on Start. However, if it says ‘Running’, click on Stop first and then Start.
Do check our latest post on the Show Folder Size in Windows 11.
5. Switch on Enhanced Mode for Finding Files
If your Windows Start menu search issue is related to the slow discovery of search results or files not appearing in results, you need to make sure enhanced indexing is turned on.
Once you enable this option, Windows will store an index of all the files, folders, and contents offline, allowing the search results to be precise and extremely fast. The downside to this is that this consumes significantly more CPU and also reduces battery life.
You can turn on the enhanced indexing option by following these steps:
- Move the cursor to the Start icon, press the right mouse button, and click Settings.
- Look for the Privacy and Security tab on the left section and switch to it.
- After that, scroll a little and click on ‘Searching Windows’ when you see it.
- Once the subsequent page loads, expand the ‘Find my files’ button by clicking on the bottom arrow icon and select the ‘Enhanced’ radio button.
6. Reset Indexing Data
If your Enhanced indexing was already turned on or you are still having issues after enabling it, you can clear all the existing data and build an index from scratch.
Follow these steps to reset indexing data:
- Launch Windows settings by using the ‘Windows key + I’ shortcut.
- Click on the search box labeled ‘Find a setting’ on the top left corner, type ‘Searching windows’, and click on the first result.
- This should bring up a new page on the right pane. Click on ‘Advanced indexing options’ in the Related settings section.
- Click on the Advanced button on the new window.
- In the Index settings tab, click on the Rebuild button under Troubleshooting.
7. Update Windows to Latest Version
Microsoft regularly releases patches and improvements to not only fix reported bugs but also to provide new features and optimizations. There is a good chance an update can solve your problem if it’s a windows bug.
Here are the steps to check for updates and download them if necessary:
- Open the Settings application by pressing Windows + I and switching to the Windows Update tab from the left panel.
- Click on the check for updates button on the right panel to scan for updates. It should start downloading them automatically if found. Otherwise, you could click on the Download button to begin downloading manually.
Quickly check out our epic guide on how to turn on or off Device Encryption on Windows 11.
8. Restore Windows to Factory Settings
If you are still stuck with no success after trying out the previous methods, it is possible some of your Windows files are corrupted. The best and most straightforward way to fix this is to reset Windows to its original settings.
Keep in mind that you will lose all your personal files like pictures, videos, and games, so make sure to back them up before going through with this.
These are steps to execute to format windows:
- Go to your settings application.
- Switch to the System section.
- Click on the recovery button on the right pane.
- Click on the Reset PC button under recovery options on the next page.
How do I restart indexing in Windows 11?
You can restart indexing in Windows 11 by going to settings, searching for Indexing options, and clicking on the first result. Then, click on the Advanced button followed by the rebuild button. This will reinitiate the indexing in Windows 11.
How do I turn on the Windows search service?
You can turn on the Windows search service by launching a Run window, typing ‘services.msc’, and hitting enter. Then, scroll down, double-click on Windows search, and click the Start button.
There are more than a hundred different settings and programs available on our computer, and the fastest way to get to them is through Windows search. So, it’s natural to be worried when that stops working.
I’m sure one of these fixes will work for you, so do let me know which one did the job in the comments.