Windows Search Indexer and Indexing Tips & Tricks

Windows 10/8/7 has a powerful Search feature that allows you to quickly search for files on your computer. Windows Search creates and then uses what is called the Index to perform very fast searches on your computer. This article will tell you how to configure Windows Search and its indexing options so that you get the best out of it.

Configure Windows Search Indexing

You can configure your Windows Search and Indexer to suit your requirements. To do so, you will have to open the Indexing Options via Control Panel > All Control Panel Items > Performance Information and Tools.

Windows Search Indexing

Here you will see the locations which are being indexed. You can also Modify the Index locations. If you wish, at any point in time, you can pause indexing here, for 15 minutes at a time, by clicking on the Pause button. The Advanced button gives you some more options, which we will see below. All this is managed by SearchIndexer.exe.

What is SearchIndexer.exe

You may have come across a process called the SearchIndexer.exe in your Windows Task Manager. This process is the actual service that manages the indexing of your files for Windows Search.

What is SearchIndexer.exe

If you right click on this process and select Go to Service, you will see that a Windows Service called WSearch is associated with it. The WSearch service provides and manages content indexing, property caching, and search results in Windows operating system. If at any point in time you find that you wish to terminate this process, you should click on End Process Tree to terminate it as well as its related processes.

Location of Windows Search Index

By default, the Windows Search Index is situated at the following location: C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Search. But if you want to change its location, you can do it easily. Go here to see how to change the location of the Windows Search Index. This operation will restart Windows Search Service, and indexing will take place afresh and be saved at this new location.

Add or remove folders to be indexed

The easiest way to add anything to the search index is to include it in the Library. But you can also do so via the Indexing Options. Clicking on Modify will open a dialog box which will show all the currently indexed locations.

Here, you can add or remove index locations and decide which folders you’d like to add or to be removed.

By default, most of the common user files on your computer are indexed. Indexed locations include all folders included in Libraries, e-mail, and offline files. Windows folder, Program files and system files are normally not indexed.

You should include only those folders which you routinely search, else your index may become too large, which in turn may slow down your regular searches.

Read: How to change the location of Search Index.

Add or remove File Types to be indexed

The Windows Search Indexer has a set list of default file types that it indexes. But if you wish, you can change these file types. To do so, click on the Advanced button in the Indexing Options.

In the box which opens you will be able to check, un-check file types to select or de-select them, and even add a new file extension to the list.

Index Encrypted Files

Under the Advanced tab of the Indexing Options, you can also set it to encrypted index files. You can see the last image in this post.

But before you add encrypted files to the index, it is recommended that you have Windows BitLocker (or a non-Microsoft File Encryption Software) enabled on your system drive for security purposes. If you don’t Windows may show you a yellow security warning saying Cannot Verify Files.

Disable searchindexer.exe or Search Indexer in Windows

People often recommend that you disable the Search Indexer to save resources and make your Windows computer faster. But this is not exactly true. The Indexing takes place, only when your computer is idle. When it is busy, indexing is paused.

But nevertheless, if you do not use the Windows Search frequently and would like to disable Windows Search, you can do so as follows:

Open Control Panel > Programs and Features > Turn Windows Features on or off. Here uncheck the Indexing Service check box. Click OK and Restart computer.

Additionally, you could also open Services.msc and navigate to Windows Search service. Right-click on it and select Properties.

Here set its startup type to Disabled. Click Apply/OK and restart your computer.

Rebuild Search Index and Restore Search Defaults

If you feel that your search index has corrupted, you can rebuild your search index easily.

To do so, open Control Panel > System & Maintenance > Indexing Options. In the Advanced Options, Click on Restore Defaults and Rebuild Index. Click OK.

Windows Search Indexer has stopped working

If you find that your Search Indexer is not working correctly, you may want to check our tutorial on how to Troubleshoot Windows Search Indexer errors based on which the first MVP Fix It was released. If you are facing problems with Windows Search itself, check out the Windows Search Troubleshooter.

Read next: Fix SearchIndexer.exe High Disk or CPU usage.

Do let us know if you have any additional tips to share!

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Posted by on , in Category Windows with Tags
Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.

35 Comments

  1. Caleb

    I have always disabled my search indexing to make my computer faster, so – what you are now saying that it does not really make any difference, am i correct?

  2. Fdgdfgs

    thanks !! I never knew this thing before ..

  3. Yes, not much, because Indexing takes place only when the computer is idle – ie. when you are not using it.

  4. Benb

    Why can’t you just schedule the search indexer? It causes 100% CPU usage. After 20 years of Microsoft, I am switching to Apple. Silence is golden and Microsoft after Gates is loud and idiotic.

  5. E79Inc

    Great thinker’s.. thanks to God’s great work.. Ben from Tanzania

  6. E79inc

    opposer’s are always there they don’t bug me so do you
    Good work .. God bless you all

  7. Hi AnandK, in the article you say that “The Indexing takes place, only when your computer is idle. When it is busy, indexing is paused”, let me tell that this statment is not true, I’m having problems with my Windows 8 Os, it is always using the disk at 100% level and the Windows Indexser Service has all the Disk resources, it doesn’t matter if I’m using the machine or not, this is happening right now that i’m writing this commet.
    I miss you Windows 7.

  8. Nick

    Can run indexing or read data for indexing only in the night or if computer is idle

  9. junkemail

    If ser A and B have both logged into a computer and have similar documents and emails stored in the index. User A does a search, how/what keeps files from User B’s documents/emails from showing in A’s search results

  10. Ethel Aardvaark

    Is it possible to get the search bar not to run programs it finds by default, but simply shows results. At the moment if I search for “con” and press enter it opens the control panel rather than showing search results. If I type “cno” and press enter I get search results.

    This inconsistency is unpredictable and very annoying – can it be turned off?

  11. hushv

    i agree completely. It’s just freezes the whole computer and i don’t want to disable it because, windows 8 without search is incomplete. I even tried lowering the process priority from normal to low but that does not stop it from hanging my system.

    I don’t want to format the system cos that would only push the problem for a few weeks and after that, I’d be back to the same problem.

  12. The Baron

    Anybody know how to stop windows search showing files no longer on my computer or how to delete these? Or files that I opened from a USB key months ago showing up in windows search – how do I remove or re- delete these ‘ ghosts’? Thanks

  13. Rebuild the Search Index:)

  14. Joe

    Running windows 7 and your instructions do not fit my version of 7. 1. system and security, not maintaince. 2 No Indexing options, that I can find. I’m no geek but I can follow directions and these seem to me to be lacking, Not the correct sequence of steps. Thanks, Glad you post these to help us all.

  15. Open Control Panel > All Control Panel Items > Performance Information and Tools > Indexing Options > Click on Advanced button > Click File Types. You should see them.

  16. joe

    ater opening the control panel, I have 8 general catagories. Which should I open next? I thought syntext/ exactness was paramont in computing. Lets say I’m an idiot, step me through it. I am using windows 7. Thanks

  17. In the top right corner of your Control Panel, you probably have ‘View by’ set to ‘Category’. That is why you are seeing only 8. Change it to ‘Small Icons’. You will now be able to see Performance Information and Tools.

  18. ss

    indexer only seems to run when the computer is busy !!!! 11 when I stop typing it stops indexing!!!!

    help, please

  19. See Add or remove folders to be indexed above.
    Allow only your Documents folder to be indexed.

    See Add or remove File Types to be indexed above.
    Restore default list.

    Follow procedure mentioned in the post to. Rebuild Search Index and Restore Search Defaults.

  20. eenymeeny

    I’m sitting here now and using my PC and Windows Search is running at 25% of CPU. On Windows 8. It does run when the PC is not idle. And I would like to know how to fix that.

  21. nylie

    hi. i have unchecked the windows search but the searchindexer.exe is still running and utilizes 90% of CPU. thought there might be some virus, tried running kaspersky but found none.

  22. Sebastien Lemieux

    Adding my voice to this. It does start up when you do “nothing” with your computer, like using your mouse for maybe 30 seconds.
    Sending 5gig of data trought FTP and already using a lot of your HDD read capacity for it ? Meh, let’s start indexing…

  23. KoreaWatch

    Absolutely wrong information given. Indexing doesn’t wait for idle at all. It is indexing even when I play Diablo 3!

  24. KoreaWatch

    WRONG!

  25. manit77

    best way to fix windows search service is to disable it. especially in a server environment. It consumes CPU and blocks access to files. I’ve also seen it to cause network packets to drop.

  26. It is always on until done.

  27. A small heads up; if you have folders with lots of files, you cannot deselect or expand the folders to do so in Indexed Locations part. It takes 40 minutes (I waited) to expand a folder, probably because of indexing again, and by then you probably clicked several thousand other places. Pause Indexing then remove whatever you want. Also you cannot deselect everything by deselection the parent folder. You have to go wherever your indexed folders are and deselect there.

  28. barbaselo

    Yes, it’s always on – unless you stop it manually. However, at least on my computer, the indexing process shows a message saying something like “Indexing is running slower due to user activity”. I don’t know the exact message in english since my windows is not english.

    It does in fact run so slow (low prio) that I don’t even notice it’s running.

  29. Michael Schindler

    It´s a shame, that Microsoft still doesn´t allow indexing of files on a i.e. NAS.

  30. Mike McGowan

    Unfortunately I have a very low-spec notebook and when I’m watching a TV programme or movie on it and haven’t had any physical interaction with the system for a while, the Windows Search Indexer starts running even though the computer is NOT really ‘idle’.

    This is a very small problem if I’m watching something I’ve downloaded because the disruption to my player is minimal but if I’m streaming, it becomes practically unwatchable because the increased CPU activity means that I rarely get more than 5 seconds of continuous play before there’s a pause of anything up to a second or 2.

    Normally I just disable the indexing for several days at a time then manually re-enable it just before I head off to work in the morning, disabling it again when I come home in the evening but I wish there was a quick and easy button I could click that would do this (yeah, I suppose I could write a script or something to disable/re-enable the service but that’s effort and we all know that solution’s not perfect anyway).

  31. Macgyver

    @happyandyk:disqus Bro does rebuilding the index fixes file types that i have disabled and configured to index only file properties not content etc to default? I had many file types that were set to index file properties and content modified to file props only..will it fix my prob?
    [EDIT]
    I dont suppose it works as i went to advanced indexing options>file types>navigate to filetype:ascx and changed from index file props&contents to file props only……after clicking ok rebuild index dialog popped up…..i closed the popup and restarted windows search service…then rebuilt service again….went over to filetypes and viola…it wasnt reset to default…filetype: ascx was indexed for file props only…….anyway to fix this….any registry keys to delete or edit?……thankx in advanced……

    I know i use void tools Everything for my search but some Microsoft recommends enabling windows search for many of its product including Onedrive sync in windows 8.1 as well as 10

  32. It will not work that way.

  33. PuterMan

    When search indexing starts it freezes my PC for up to 8 minutes, normally around5, and I can’t do anything at all. I need to set the delay time longer as currently it starts when idle after only 4 minutes.

  34. Abelardo Pérez G.

    How solve this issue: Windows no pudo iniciar el servicio Winows Search en Equipo local. Error3:El sistema no puede encontrar la ruta especificada.

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