Windows 10/11 File Explorer search not working [Full Fix]

by Matthew Adams
Matthew Adams
Matthew Adams
Windows & Software Expert
Matthew is a freelancer who has produced a variety of articles on various topics related to technology. His main focus is the Windows OS and all the things... read more
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  • If your Windows Explorer search is not working, there is something wrong with your OS.
  • You can use an alternative third-party program that searches your Windows files instead.
  • Windows 10 explorer search not working can quickly be fixed with the app troubleshooter.
  • Users suggested that restarting your file explorer will solve the Explorer search not working issue.
File Explorer search not working windows 10 11

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Windows (otherwise File) Explorer is Windows’ file management utility with which users search for documents, images, music, software, and more besides.

However, File Explorer searches might return a No items match your search message for some users even when there certainly are files that match the keywords entered.

Therefore, File Explorer’s search utility can effectively stop working for certain folders or more widely. One user stated on the Microsoft forum:

The search facility in Explorer has stopped working. I can see all files and access them, but when I try to find any of them using the search box it comes up with No items match your search. This facility worked 48 hrs ago, but is no longer!

Why is File Explorer search not working on Windows 11?

Many have reported that File Explorer search isn’t working on Windows 11, and this is usually caused by a minor glitch that is fixed by restarting the Windows Explorer.

Problems with this feature can occur if File Explorer is crashing, and this can be caused by missing updates, so keep your system up to date at all times.

This issue can also occur if Search indexing is turned off on Windows 11, so make sure that you enable it in order to use this feature.

How can I fix File Explorer’s search utility?

1. Use a third-party software

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If your default File Explorer that comes with Windows is giving you headaches, you can use a different file searcher software, and there are plenty on the market to choose from.

This software is designed to allow you to search your computer thoroughly, being able to find even the most hidden files. This includes Office files, Outlook files, and attachments.

If you need to find another efficient file explorer solution, it’s advised to choose from the best file finder software for your PC.

2. Open the Search and Indexing Troubleshooter

  1. Click Settings on the Start menu.
  2. Click Update & Security > Troubleshoot to open the tab in the image directly below.
    The Troubleshoot tab windows explorer search not working
  3. Then select Search and Indexing and click Run the troubleshooter.
  4. Go through the troubleshooter’s resolutions.

3. Restart File Explorer

  1. Press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to open the Task Manager.
  2. Click the arrow to expand it.
  3. Select  Windows Explorer on the Processes tab.
  4. Then press the Restart button.

4. Rebuild the search indexing

  1. Press the Windows key + R keys.
  2. Enter Control Panel in Run, and click the OK button.
  3. Click All Control Panel Items shown directly below.
    The All Control Panel Items setting windows explorer search not working
  4. Then click Indexing Options.Indexing Options windows explorer search not working
  5. Press the Advanced button.The Rebuild button windows explorer search not working
  6. Press the Rebuild button, and click OK to confirm.

5. Select the Index Properties and File Contents option

  1. Click the Advanced button on the Indexing Options window.
  2. Click the File Types tab shown directly below.The Index Properties and File Contents setting windows explorer search not working
  3. Then select the Index Properties and File Contents radio button.
  4. Click the OK button.

Some users have confirmed they’ve fixed File Explorer searches by selecting the Index Properties and File Contents option.

6. Check if Windows Search Service is enabled

  1. Press the Windows key + R keyboard shortcut to open Run.
  2. Input services.msc in the Open text box, and select the OK option.
  3. Double-click Windows Search to open the window below.Windows Search window windows explorer search not working
  4. Select the Automatic option on the Startup Type drop-down menu.
  5. Click the Start button.
  6. Select the Apply and OK options.

7. Assign system permissions to a folder

  1. Open File Explorer, and right-click the folder searches that don’t work.
  2. Then, select Properties.
  3. Select the Security tab.
    Security tab windows explorer search not working
  4. The Group or user names box should include SYSTEM. If not, click the Edit button.
  5. Press the Add button to open the Select Users or Groups window.
  6. Enter SYSTEM and Enter the object names box as shown below.Select Users or Groups windows explorer search not working
  7. Click the Check Names button.
  8. Press the OK button.
  9. Select the Read & execute, Read, and List folder contents checkboxes in the Allow column within the Permissions for System box.
  10. Select the Apply option to save changes, and click the OK button to exit.

If File Explorer searches don’t work for a more specific folder, check if that folder has System permissions.

Those resolutions will often fix FileExplorer’s search utility. Remember, however, that there are also numerous third-party search tools for Windows that users can utilize as an alternative to File Explorer.

If you have any other questions or suggestions, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section below.

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