Windows 10 File Explorer search not working [Full Fix]

Matthew Adams
by Matthew Adams
Windows & Software Expert
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  • File Explorer is Windowsfile management utility with which users search for documents, images, music, software, and more besides.
  • It might return a No items match your search message even when there certainly are files that match the keywords entered. You can fix this with our guide.
  • File Explorer has seen its fair share of issues. Go to our Fix File Explorer section if you have more problems with it.
  • If you have any problems with Windows 10 we have an even more extensive Windows 10 Troubleshooting Hub.
how to fix Windows Explorer search not working

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!

How can I fix File Explorer’s search utility?

1. Open the Search and Indexing Troubleshooter

  1. First, try opening the Search and Indexing troubleshooter. 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.The Search troubleshooter windows explorer search not working
  4. Go through the troubleshooter’s resolutions.

If the Troubleshooter stops before completing the process, fix it with the help of this complete guide.


2. Restart File Explorer

Restarting File Explorer might help fix search issues. To do so, right-click the taskbar and select the Task Manager option. Then select Windows Explorer on the Processes tab, and press the Restart button.

The Processes tab windows explorer search not working


3. Rebuild Search indexing

  1. Rebuilding indexing can often fix File Explorer‘s search utility. Press the Windows key + R keyboard hotkey.
  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.

You can’t open Control Panel? Take a look at this step-by-step guide to find a solution.


4. Select the Index Properties and File Contents option

  1. Some users have confirmed they’ve fixed File Explorer searches by selecting the Index Properties and File Contents option. To select that setting, 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.

5. Check if Windows Search Service is enabled

  1. Make sure that Windows Search is enabled. 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 in the snapshot directly 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.

6. Assign system permissions to a folder

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

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.

FAQ: Read more about File Explorer not working

  • Why can’t I search in my file explorer?

If the File Explorer search is not responding, first, try to restart it. Close the process from Task Manager, then open File Explorer again.

  • What is the best file finder software?

Some of the best file finder software are Copernic Desktop Search, Aten File Finder, and Everything. You can also take a look at our top selection.

  • How do I fix Windows Search not working?

If the Windows Search is not working, open the Search and Indexing Troubleshooter, restart File Explorer, and rebuild Search indexing. 

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2019 and has been since revamped and updated in June 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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