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Start Menu and Taskbar Search Not Working in Windows 10

By July 29, 2020October 3rd, 2020No Comments

Search in Windows 10 is used more often than in previous Windows version. You can use Windows search to find an app, file, setting item, system feature or even search the Internet much faster. However, in some cases, Windows 10 search in Start Menu, Cortana and Taskbar Search stops working: when you trying to find an app or a file, an empty list is returned (as a rule, it happens after installing Windows updates or upgrading Windows 10 build). In this post, we’ve put some basic tips that should help if search in the Start Menu, Taskbar, Cortana or other Windows 10 interface elements doesn’t work properly. Many users of Windows 10 on February 5, 2020 began to complain about the search box breaking down (the search shows blank results). The problem is related to the temporary unavailability of cloud-based Bing search services and can be solved by disabling the Windows 10 search integration with Bing (see the solution “Blank Windows Search Result on Windows 10 with Bing Search Integration” below).

Restart Windows 10 Search Services

The Cortana process (SearchUI.exe) is responsible for the search from the Taskbar. If the search from the Windows 10 Taskbar does not work, try to restart this process:

  1. Run the Task Manager (Ctrl+Alt+Del);
  2. Go to the Details tab;
  3. Find SearchUI.exe in the list of processes, right-click on it and select End Task;
  4. Similarly, kill the SearchApp.exe process;
  5. The next time you try to use Windows 10 search, these processes will automatically restart.

Windows 10 Start Menu Search Not Working

If the search doesn’t work only in the Windows 10 Start menu, try the following solution:

  1. Kill the File Explorer (Explorer.exe) process by right-clicking an empty space on taskbar with Ctrl+Shift pressed -> Exit Explorer or use the Task Manager (Ctrl + Shift + Esc);kill explorer
  2. Run the Registry Editor from the Task Manager (File -> Create new task -> regedit.exe);
  3. Delete the following registry key: HKLMSOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorerFolderTypes{ef87b4cb-f2ce-4785-8658-4ca6c63e38c6}TopViews{00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000}. In the Windows 10 x64 you need to delete the another registry key HKLMSOFTWAREWow6432NodeMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersion ExplorerFolderTypes {ef87b4cb-f2ce-4785-8658-4ca6c63e38c6}TopViews {00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000}.
  4. Start Explorer.exe using the Task Manager (File -> Create new task -> explorer.exe).

In Windows 10 Creator Update (1703) or newer, there is another common problem that results in the search function not working. In the Settings -> Privacy -> Background apps, enable the option Let apps run in the background. If you disable this option, the search among the newly installed applications may not work.

Let apps run in the background

If you can’t find this option, you can enable it through the registry:

  1. To do it, go to the registry key HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoft WindowsCurrentVersion BackgroundAccessApplications;
  2. Create a new DWORD (32-bit) parameter with the name GlobalUserDisabled and the value 0;
  3. Then change the value of the BackgroundAppGlobalToggle parameter to 1 in the registry key HKCUSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionSearch;Or you can change these parameters from the command prompt:
    REG ADD HKCUSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionBackgroundAccessApplications /v GlobalUserDisabled /t REG_DWORD /d 0 /f
    REG ADD HKCUSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionSearch /v BackgroundAppGlobalToggle /t REG_DWORD /d 1 /f
  4. Restart your computer.

Check the Search Service and Indexing Settings

Check if the Windows Search (Indexing) service is running.

  1. Open the services.msc console;
  2. Find Windows Search in the list of services;
  3. Make sure that the service is running and its startup type is set to automatic; Windows Search in windows 10
  4. Start/restart the WSearch service;
  5. Open the classic Control Panel and open the Indexing Options item (Control PanelAll Control Panel ItemsIndexing Options);
  6. Make sure that you select the indexing of all necessary locations (at least the following indexing locations should be enabled: Start Menu, Users folder. Also, you can add your local drives and Outlook);
  7. Click Advanced button and then press Rebuild in the Troubleshooting section; rebuild search index
  8. The reindexing process can take some time. Be patient.

Note. Make sure that there is enough free space on your system drive. In some cases the size of Windows Search indexing file (Windows.edb) can be quite large.

Run the Search and Indexing Troubleshooter

Try to start a build-in Windows 10 Indexer Diagnostics (Troubleshooter) tool. To do it:

  1. Go to Settings -> Search -> Searching Windows. Scroll down the list and click on “Run the indexer troubleshooter to resolve common search issues”;You can start the Windows Search troubleshooter from the command prompt: msdt.exe -ep WindowsHelp id SearchDiagnostic 
  2. The “Search and Indexing Services” troubleshoot wizard should launch;
  3. Select your problem (most likely it will be “Files don’t appear in search results”) and click Next;
  4. Wait until the “Search and Indexing troubleshooter” scans your computer and tries to fix the errors. Then reboot the computer and check the search result.

Re-Register Universal Apps in Windows 10

If you have Cortana installed on your computer, you can fix the search problem by re-registering all Universal Windows Platforms (UWP / Windows Store) apps in the system. To do it, run the following command in PowerShell that is started with the administrator privileges:

Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register "$($_.InstallLocation)AppXManifest.xml"}

reregister apps in windows 10 to fix search problems

After the command completes, reboot the computer.

Blank Windows Search Result on Windows 10 with Bing Search Integration

On February 5, 2020, many users noticed that search from the taskbar or Start menu did not work on Windows 10 1909 and 1903. When you click the Search icon or type something in Start menu, it shows a blank search window.

Windows 10 search giving blank results

Most likely the cause of the problem is the inaccessibility of the Bing cloud search services. The fact is that, by default, Windows 10 sends everything that you entered in the Start Menu search to its cloud servers, which return the search results from Bing to you.

The easiest way to fix this problem is to disable Windows 10 Search Integration with Microsoft Bing Search.

  1. Run the Registry Editor (Win+R -> regedit.exe);
  2. Go to the registry key HKEY_CURRENT_USERSOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionSearch;
  3. Change the value of the BingSearchEnabled and CortanaConsent parameters to 0If these registry settings are missing, create them manually (use the  REG_DWORD 32 parameter type). You can create and set these parameter values with the following commands:
    REG ADD HKCUSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionSearch /v BingSearchEnabled /t REG_DWORD /d 0 /f
    REG ADD HKCUSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionSearch /v CortanaConsent /t REG_DWORD /d 0 /f
  4. Restart the Explorer.exe process or reboot your computer.

This solution will help if you have a search box open, but nothing appears when specifying the text to search. At the time of writing this post, Microsoft engineers had already fixed the problem with Bing, and Windows Search Services began to work fine. Although in my opinion the integration of Windows 10 search with Bing service should be permanently disabled.

Windows 10 Setting Search Not Working

Windows 10 Settings app has its own search box for quick access of system settings. If the search in the Setting menu stops working:

  1. Open the File Explorer and go to the directory %LocalAppData%Packageswindows.immersivecontrolpanel_cw5n1h2txyewyLocalState;
  2. Open the properties of the Indexed folder and click the Advanced button. Make sure that the option “Allow files in this folder to have contents indexed in addition to file properties” is enabled;
  3. If the option is already enabled, disable it, click OK, and then re-enable it.

Reset Windows Search with PowerShell Script

If the methods described above didn’t help you to restore the Windows 10 search, Microsoft recommends using the PowerShell script to reset all settings of the Windows Search service (the script is designed for Windows 10 1903 and newer).

Download the ResetWindowsSearchBox.ps1 PowerShell script from the link and run it on your computer.

Some Other Ways To Fix Search Problem on Windows 10

If the methods discussed above didn’t help to fix the search issue, try the following additional options:

  • Create a new user and check if the Windows 10 search is working under the new account;
  • Boot from the LiveCD and remove the folder C:Documents and SettingsusernameAppDataLocalPackagesMicrosoft.Windows.Cortana_****** (alternatively, you can use the unlocker tool to kill this folder lock process). Reboot your computer. The Cortana folder will appear again and after a few minutes the search should work (this method has helped several of our subscribers);
  • Check the system files and Windows image integrity using the commands: sfc /scannow  or dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth

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