The Complete Guide to Fixing Windows 7 Search Indexing Issues

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Featuring-IndexingYou know how the index of a book helps you look for contents in it. Similarly, Windows has an indexing mechanism that speeds up searching of files in the system. Instead of going through each drive and directory, Windows simply searches for the associated index and maps the real location of the file.

However, the performance of search indexes is not always accurate and pleasing. Sometimes you may see messages that search results are slow, search results might be incomplete, media is not present in the search location or Windows search indexer has stopped working.

Let us see ways to counter these problems and fix the issues. There is no advanced troubleshooting here. We are going to discuss basic and general solutions. But, you may always take these as a step by step process to try and solve your issues.

Cool Tip: You may want to check out article on ways to resolve the slowness in loading of folders and files in Windows 7.

Windows Built-In Troubleshooting

There is an option to troubleshoot search and indexing using which Windows tries to identify and fix the issues. Here’s what you need to do.

Step 1: Click on Start menu and type index. Select Indexing Options from the list that appears.


Step 2: That will open the Indexing Options window. Click on the link to Troubleshoot search and indexing.


Step 3: On the Search and Indexing dialog, select one or more of your problems, hit Next and wait for Windows to solve the issue.


Rebuild the Index

During course of time the indexing of files gets disconnected and messed up. So, try rebuilding the index and check if it helps.

Step 1: Click on Start menu and type index. Select Indexing Options from the list that appears.


Step 2: That will open the Indexing Options window. Click on Advanced and enter the administrator password if prompted to do so.


Step 3: In the Advanced Options dialog box, click the Index Settings tab, and then click Rebuild.

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Check If Windows Search Index is Enabled

There could be a chance that Windows search feature has been disabled for you or gone inactive due to some other third party software. Enable it and test if the issues are rectified.

Step 1: Launch the Control Panel. Click on the Start  icon and click on Control Panel. The navigate to Programs and Features.

Step 2: On the left pane of the Control Panel window, click on the option to Turn Windows features on or off.


Step 3: The Windows Features dialog will show up. Scroll down to find Windows Search and make sure it is ticked.


You may also want to try by ticking Indexing Service. It is meant to enable indexing services from previous versions of Windows.


Ensure Search Service is Active

In Windows even if everything is fine, you may face issues with a process if at all the services associated with it is off. Here’s how to check for indexing.

Step 1: Open Run dialog (Windows key + R), type services.msc and hit Enter.


Step 2: On the services window, search for Windows Search service. Select the service and turn it off by clicking on Stop from the top left.



These are the four things that a user should check if he ever faces indexing issues. If the processes do not help, there could be some malware or third party software interfering with the default.

Are you aware of more advanced ways of handling search and indexing issues? Share with us in the comments section.

Top Image Credit: Jereme Keith

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Show archived comments (9)

Archived Comments

  1. IyellRB says:

    I have another problems… I typed something on the search bar and it only shows “Programs” and when i clicked it it says “Your Internet security settings prevented one or more files to be opened”

  2. Todd Spangler says:

    Windows Search is missing from the services.msc list. Indexing options shows indexing is not running.

  3. tommy says:

    It worked!!! I have been working on this (off and on) for months!! I even tried third party desktop searches. Thanks a Billion.

  4. Russell G says:

    I have Win7 64 bit and Outlook 2007. Also my C drive is raided. One of the drives was failing and so I’ve replaced that and ever since my indexing is not working. Tried all the solutions suggested above and none worked. For example when I try and turn on Windows Search I get a message along the lines of The Windows Search service on Local Computer started and then stopped. Some services stop automatically if they are not in use by other services or programs.

    Indexing Services and Windows Search are turned on in check boxes.

    Trouble shoot search and indexing brings up an error message of A problem is preventing the trouble shooter from starting.

    When I try to rebuild the index, nothing seems to happen at all.

    This is driving me nuts. Anyone that can help deserves a big chocolate fish.

  5. Al Rabold says:

    Hey dumbos! If search isn’t working how do you “Click on Start menu and type index….?”

    • UTS Employee says:

      The indexing feature is for your files and folders. Indexing Options is a default program that is part of your operating system. If indexing is broken, you still will able to search and access control panel/indexing options, etc.

  6. Hoppy says:

    I just followed all these steps and it’s now working again. Thank you very much.

  7. geogan says:

    No Windows search is pure shite – it just STOPS working regularly. I’m sick and tired of doing searches and it just saying “The folder is empty” even though the thing I am searching for is right in front of me. I have rebuilt index many times to fix problem – I haven’t changed filesystem or moved files around so WHY DOES IT KEEP FORGETTING FILES or FCUCKING UP ITS INDEX? Right now search service ON, indexing ON, 1.4 million items in index and it STILL DOESN’T WORK!! Sick of waiting days for it to RE-READ EVERYTHING into index only to FORGET everything again.

  8. StefanS says:

    Thanks a lot. Nice really nice , it worked almost instantly. Currently I can use the win search without third party software. Btw. an alternative which is called Lookeen has bridged the time between the start of the weak performance and your problem solving. Guiding tech you did a great job !