Instant Search is not finding items

If searches in Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 don't locate the items you're looking for, the most common reason is that the indexing of your Outlook data files is incomplete. Also, if you or your organization are using encryption for message security, this can prevent some of your e-mail messages from being found during a search.

Symptoms

Instant Search is enabled, but when you search for items in Outlook, no search results appear, or the ones that do appear don't match your search criteria.

If you are not sure if Search is enabled, find out more about enabling Instant Search.

Possible causes

  • The indexing of your data files might not be complete. Indexing is what enables the Instant Search feature to quickly locate items.

 Note   When you first start using Instant Search, Outlook needs to index your data files to provide fast and complete search results. This process might take several minutes.

See Resolving indexing issues below.

 Note   This might occur if you are using either Windows Desktop Search (WDS) or Outlook (Instant Search or Advanced Find) to search for the messages.

See Resolving clear-signed message issues below.

Resolving indexing issues

Verify that your Outlook data files can be indexed

Outlook indexes the following data files:

This includes Microsoft Windows Live Mail, IMAP, and POP e-mail accounts. If you use a Microsoft Exchange account (much more common in business e-mail systems than in a home or personal account), you must be connected to the server running Exchange and use Cached Exchange Mode for Instant Search to index your messages. Cached Exchange Mode uses an Offline Folders file (.ost) to save your information on your computer. To verify which data files are being indexed, do the following:

  1. On the Tools menu, point to Instant Search, and then click Search Options.

Alternatively, click the arrow in the Instant Search pane, and then click Search Options on the menu.

  1. Under Indexing, verify that the data files that you want to include in your search are selected in the Index messages in these data files list.

Verify that indexing is complete

To verify the indexing status, do the following:

  1. On the Tools menu, point to Instant Search, and then click Indexing Status.

Alternatively, click the arrow in the Instant Search pane, and then click Indexing Status on the menu.

  1. Verify that the dialog box reports 0 items remaining. If not, indexing is not complete and needs to finish before all of your Outlook items can be searched.

Indexing Status reports "0 items remaining," however, search results are not correct

If the Indexing Status reports 0 items remaining and Instant Search is still not returning the correct search results, exit Outlook and restart your computer. When you start Outlook again, verify that Outlook is indexing your items properly by doing the following:

  1. On the Tools menu, point to Instant Search, and then click Indexing Status.

Alternatively, click the arrow in the Instant Search pane, and then click Indexing Status on the menu.

  1. Verify that the number of items in the Indexing Status dialog box has increased. If the number has not increased, you must wait until indexing is complete for the results.

I restarted my computer, and Instant Search still doesn't return the correct results

If you aren't getting results after restarting, the next step is to rebuild your search catalog. The search catalog is a file where all of your Outlook and Microsoft Windows items are indexed. To rebuild your search catalog, do the following:

  1. Exit Outlook.
  2. In Microsoft Windows, click the Start button, and then click Control Panel.
  3. Do one of the following:
    • Windows Vista     Click System Maintenance, and then click Indexing Options.

 Note   In Classic view, double-click Indexing Options.

  • Microsoft Windows XP     Under See Also, click Other Control Panel Options, and then click Indexing Options.

 Note   In Classic view, double-click Indexing Options.

  1. Click Advanced.
  2. Click Rebuild.
  3. Restart Outlook.

Resolving clear-signed message issues

If a clear-signed message is stored in a Personal Folders files (.pst) (Personal Folders file (.pst): Data file that stores your messages and other items on your computer. You can assign a .pst file to be the default delivery location for e-mail messages. You can use a .pst to organize and back up items for safekeeping.) or an Offline Folder files (.ost) (Offline Folder file: The file on your hard disk that contains offline folders. The offline folder file has an .ost extension. You can create it automatically when you set up Outlook or when you first make a folder available offline.), Outlook Instant Search (and Windows Desktop Search) will not be able to find it. The way that Outlook encrypts, or "packages," the body text of a message when signed using clear-sign encryption technology renders the message text unsearchable.

For more information on signing and encryption technology, see Understanding Public Key Cryptography.

You can use the following steps however, to find out if the file location is part of the problem.

  1. Determine if you are searching a .pst or .ost.

ShowHow?

  1. In your Inbox, click the single arrow next to the Search All Mail Items box.
  2. Click Search Options.
  3. In the Indexing section, see if the following check boxes are selected:
    • Personal Folders
    • Mailbox - <your name>

  1. If you think that the messages are stored in other data files besides a .pst or the .ost, clear the check boxes (if necessary) and then try your search again.

If you are searching a data file other than a .pst or an .ost, and Instant Search still isn't finding the messages, see if you have your Outlook e-mail account set to use Cached Exchange Mode. If so, turn off Cached Exchanged Mode and then try your search again.

ShowHow?

  1. On the Tools menu, click Account Settings.
  2. On the E-mail tab, click the Exchange account, and then click Change.
  3. Under Microsoft Exchange server, clear the Use Cached Exchange Mode check box.
  4. Exit and restart Outlook.

Once Cached Exchange Mode is turned off, if you still aren't getting the search results you expect, try using a different Outlook profile. If you don't have another profile set up, you can create one. In each case, you must turn off Cached Exchange Mode as described in the procedure above.

For more information, see any of the following:

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Applies to:
Outlook 2007