Windows File Explorer offers a search box that allows you to search for files in the current folder or anywhere on the computer. If you have noticed, Microsoft seems to have changed the behavior of the Explorer search box in Windows 11 or Windows 10. Earlier, one had to start typing, and you would see the options in the drop-down and the items being displayed in the windows. But now you have to type your keyword and then hit Enter for the search results to get populated. Moreover, there are no search suggestions offered in the drop-down.
File Explorer Search Box not returning any results
Windows Search powers this new search experience, and it also displays your OneDrive account online content. While it works, at times, I have found it freezing or not working correctly. At times it may even cause Explorer to crash when searching. If you face issues, here are a few inputs.
File Explorer Search not working properly
These troubleshooting tips can be followed without any fear of deleting files. However, make sure to understand what is the exact nature of your problem. Sometimes you might be looking for the wrong file, or the content is not there in any file and so on. Let’s fix the search issue with these inputs.
- Search Behaviour change
- Search Box Stuck or Not Responding in Explorer
- Search does not display any result
- Restart the Windows Search Service
- Run Search & Indexing Troubleshooter
- Restart File Explorer
Some of the tips need admin permission, especially when we are restarting a service.
1] Search Behaviour change
Here is the list of recent changes made to File Explorer in Windows 11/10. So if the problem is because of behavior change, then you should know that it is not a bug.
No Instant Search Result in File Explorer
In the earlier version of File Explorer, the results were displayed as soon as you started typing. It has changed. Now when you type, a couple of search results are displayed right below the search bar, but only when you hit Enter, the complete result is displayed. In short, the instant search result has been removed. However, when you press the enter key, it shows the search result like the previous style.
Assuming you have a search result based on the text in the search box. If you click on the “X” icon next to the text you type, it will not clear the search result.
OneDrive Integration with File Explorer
The results that are displayed include files and folders from OneDrive online and offline files. Here is an essential thing about the OneDrive search. They can find online files, i.e., the one which is not downloaded on the computer, only if you chose the “Files on Demand” option in OneDrive.
Files on Demand bring the metadata of the files on the computer. So when you search, the search program uses that metadata to find the data and display as part of the result.
Directly open Files from Search Result
When you click on any of the files or folder that appears under the search box, it will open the file directly. If the file is from OneDrive, which is not available on the computer, it will instantly download the file, and then open it. So if it is taking time, you know the reason.
Try it with one of your files which has a cloud icon, and click to open. You should notice that it will turn green, i.e., downloaded to the computer, and then it will open in its respective app.
2] Search Box Stuck or Not Responding in Explorer
The problem with it is that it’s just that cursor is not blinking when you click on the box. Otherwise, it’s working just fine.
- Type something and hit Enter to start the search
- Now go back using the back button
- Then click on File Explorer, and it will not display a blinking cursor, which gives you a feeling that it is not responding.
- However, as soon as you press the down key/up key or type anything, it will start working again.
So if that’s what is happening with you, then it’s just the missing cursor, which should be fixed through a minor update.
That said, since we are noticing many people having a similar issue, it can’t be denied because of the way it is working for me. If you are facing stuck or not responding issues in Windows File Explorer Search, it is best to restart Explorer by following the method I have shown in the last point.
See this post if the Windows Search bar is missing.
3] Search does not display any result
Even after you hit Enter, there is no result; you may have to rebuild the search index. Before going ahead, make sure to search for recognizable file names which are on the computer, and if that doesn’t work, it will be best to rebuild the index.
These days we have started saving our files on cloud services like OneDrive, Google Drive, and Dropbox to name a few. If you are saving files there, and the folders are not included in the index, then it will not be able to search for them. We have written a detailed guide on this, so make sure to read our post on Windows File Explorer stuck on ‘Working on it…’ message. You may have to optimize the folder for General Items as well.
4] Restart the Windows Search Service
Like everything else, Windows creates a service for search as well. If the service has stopped or disabled to start with Windows boot, then it can be problematic.
- Open the Services window by typing services.msc in the Run prompt and press the Enter key.
- Locate a service with the name Windows Search.
- Double click to open it, and start if it is not running.
- Also, change it to Automatic Delayed, if it is disabled.
However, if the service repeatedly starts and then stops, then you need to delete all files with BLF and REGTRANS-MS extension in this directory.
5] Run Search & Indexing Troubleshooter
In Windows 11, open Settings > System > Troubleshoot > Other troubleshooters to access all the Troubleshooters.
In Windows 10:
- Open Windows Settings (Win + I)
- Navigate to Update & Security > Troubleshoot
- Locate Search & Indexing troubleshooter
- Click on it, and run the troubleshooter.
The troubleshooter checks at several points that might be clogging the experience of search, and fixes it. Try searching after it’s completed to see if the issue has been fixed.
6] Restart File Explorer
If the File Explorer is misbehaving, then it’s best to restart it to know if that was the problem.
- Right-click on the taskbar, and select Task Manager
- Click on the Name column to sort it by name.
- Then under apps, locate Windows Explorer.
- Right-click on it, and choose to restart.
Momentarily everything will disappear and then come back. Once it is back, try searching again and check if File Explorer Search is working properly.
These tips should help you resolve the issue with Search and File explorer. You can even make Windows find the content inside of a file and do deep searches. Follow our guide, and it will help you master the search in Windows.
File Explorer crashes when searching for files
If File Explorer crashes when searching for files then you may need to check Check installed Add-ons, Run System File Checker, Update Video drivers. Troubleshoot in Clean Boot State. etc. This post offers suggestions to fix Explorer crashes or freezes.
UPDATE: Microsoft has released a Cumulative Update to fix this issue.
How do I fix Search in File Explorer?
To fix the search in File Explorer on Windows 11/10, you need to do a few things, as mentioned here. For instance, you need to change the search behavior, restart the Windows Explorer process in the Task Manager, use the corresponding troubleshooter, etc. However, you can also restart the Windows Search service from the Services panel on Windows 11/10.
Why does search not work in File Explorer?
Numerous reasons could be responsible for this error. From a corrupted system file to a certain change in the search behavior, anything can be accountable for this error in Windows 11/10. However, if you get this problem on your computer, you can follow the steps mentioned above in this article.
If nothing works, it is not the end of the world. Check out our list of some of the free Windows Search alternative software which works as well or better than Windows Search. If you start using them, you might not use Windows Search at all.