Outlook search broken by Windows … again

Outlook for Windows has a broken search feature, again, for some mailboxes.  The problem is seemingly caused by faulty Window 11 update.

The problem is with the Windows Indexing Service which creates an index of files, documents and contents of Outlook data files (PST or OST) for quick search results.  If the Indexing Service is broken, Outlook can’t quickly find emails or other content. 

It seems the Indexing service is playing up again, though Microsoft is only saying they are “currently working on a solution.”.

What happens?

When Outlook searches your mailbox, the more recent emails or items don’t appear.  And they are usually the ones you’re looking for!   Only older items show up in the search.

Who is affected?

All Outlook desktop for Windows might be affected. Outlook 365, 2021, 2019 etc but only on Windows 11.

Only mailboxes with data stored on the computer are affected, meaning mostly POP or IMAP connected accounts. Also Exchange Server accounts with offline (cached) storage, though these might get their search results online.

The range of affected Outlook versions and just Windows 11 suggests it’s a bug in a recent Windows update.


Microsoft’s suggested workaround is to disable indexing of Outlook data only.  That forces Outlook to use its internal search function which is slow but at least doesn’t ignore results!

To change the Indexing service edit the Registry (after taking a backup and with all due care)


Add a new Key called Windows Search.

In the new Windows Search key, make a new DWORD value: PreventIndexingOutlook

Then edit the value in the new key to 1  (one) to stop Outlook Indexing. (set 0 to disable the key and allow Outlook indexing to resume).

Source: Microsoft

Not the first time…

Microsoft has ‘form’ with broken Outlook indexing.  

Late last year there was a similar problem with Outlook and Windows Indexing which was fixed in January. Yet here we are again?

Bugs happen, sure but there is supposed to be a lot of testing at Microsoft before patches are released.  Testing for indexing of Outlook data should be part of the regular testing regime, but apparently not.

It’s not a stretch to think that Redmond is giving less attention to bugs related to services they want customers to drop. Is there are little corporate ‘passive aggressive’ behaviour going on?  Microsoft is clearly preferencing their own Microsoft hosted mailboxes over others using POP, IMAP or even non-Microsoft hosted Exchange Server. 

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