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A search bug prevents Windows 11 from indexing Outlook mail

Yet another Windows 11 Search bug affects Outlook desktop users. If you are using the app, you could already notice that Outlook search results often don't include recent messages. It affects all boxes regardless of their protocol, including POP, IMAP and Microsoft's Exchange working offline.

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Users of Microsoft 365 and online Exchange services aren't affected. The two latter use a different service to index the messages. But on desktop, it is the classic search indexer. Due to the bug, you may find it working slow, consuming a lot of resources or even paused. Indexing emails makes it stuck.

Outlook Search Indexing on Windows 11

As a workaround, Microsoft suggests disabling indexing for Outlook to make the search work again.

Fix Outlook Search in Windows 11 [Workaround]

  1. Press the Win + R keys on your keyboard to open the Run box.
  2. Type in there regedit and hit Enter.
  3. Paste the following key path into the Registry Editor address bar HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows, or open it manually.
  4. Right-click the Windows folder in the left and select New > Key. Enter Windows Search as the new key name.
  5. Now, right-click the Windows Search key and select New > DWORD 32-bit Value from the context menu.
  6. Name the new value as PreventIndexingOutlook and double-click it to change its data.
  7. Now, set the PreventIndexingOutlook to 1.Disable Outlook Indexing
  8. Close the regedit app and restart Windows 11.

You are done. Sadly, it is not the first time when a Search bug breaks Outlook. Just this Spring Microsoft successfully resolved a similar issue. By that time they released a special patch to affected Windows versions. So we can expect a similar patch for the actual bug. Currently, Microsoft is investigating the issue to provide some permanent fix.

Once you apply the above mentioned Registry modification, Outlook won't involve the desktop search engine. Instead, it will redirect searches to its internal database, so it will resolve the issue.

Once Microsoft provide a permanent solution for Outlook and Windows Search, you may need to undo the change you made. Speaking more specifically, you will have to delete the PreventIndexingOutlook DWORD value you have created.

Simply navigate to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Windows Search key, right-click the PreventIndexingOutlook param, and select Delete from the context menu. Restart Windows 11 for the change to take effect.

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Author: Sergey Tkachenko

Sergey Tkachenko is a software developer who started Winaero back in 2011. On this blog, Sergey is writing about everything connected to Microsoft, Windows and popular software. Follow him on Telegram, Twitter, and YouTube.

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