Today I got a letter from one of our readers saying that he upgraded to Windows 8.1 and thereafter, the Start screen search was really SLOW, almost eating up 100% of the CPU. He asked if there was a fix or some way to speed it up. Always anxious to help people with such issues, which I find a challenge to troubleshoot, I looked closely at what was causing the slowdown and figured out what was the cause. In this article, I would like to share the fix that finally made the Start screen search more responsive.
As you might be knowing, the impressive speed of search in Windows is because it is powered by the Windows Search indexer. It runs as a service that indexes the file names, contents and properties of file system items and stores them in a special database. There is a designated list of indexed locations in Windows, plus Libraries which are always indexed. So, instead of performing a real-time search through files on the filesystem, the search performs a query to the internal database, which is 'fast and fluid'.
When you search for some folder or file which is not located in an indexed location, the search is slower by several orders of magnitude. This was exactly what was happening in this case. Some locations which need to be indexed were missing from the search index.
If this slow Start screen search issue affects you, follow these simple instructions below to easily fix it.
- Open the Control Panel. Switch it to the Large Icons view and locate the 'Folder Options' icon:
- Open Folder Options, switch to the View tab and turn on the display of hidden items as shown in the screenshot below: (Refer to this article to understand how to show hidden items.)
- Now, locate the 'Indexing Options' icon:
- Open the Indexing Options applet. The Start menu folder should be in the list of indexed locations. Note that even if the Start menu itself is not part of Windows 8.1/8, the folder is still called Start Menu for backward compatibility.
If you are having the issue of very slow search results, then in such a case, the Start Menu folder will not be in the list of indexed locations:
You should add this location back.
- Click the 'Modify' button.
- Add the following folder:
- Repeat step #6 for the following location:
C:\Users\your user name\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\
That's it. Give Windows few minutes to index these locations. Then your Start screen search will be fast again!
If none of these fixes satisfy you and you find searching from the Start screen still slower, then I strongly recommend downloading Classic Shell to get back a fast, unified search. Classic Shell's search is faster than the Start screen.