How to Fix Outlook 2016 Instant Search Not Working Problem

instant search outlook

An incredible inbuilt feature with Microsoft Outlook 2016, Instant Search allows users to search for calendars items, messages, specific emails, etc. quite effectively. Sometimes, this feature shows some error and eventually stops working. When it doesn’t work, it requires immediate fix. Here are the issues that you may encounter when it is not working.

  • Outlook 2016 search is not showing all results.
  • Outlook fails to return any search results.
  • Outlook fails to find recent or older emails.
  • Search tab is not working and turns grey.
  • Outlook search doesn’t find a match.


You can try these steps out if the search bar remains invisible –

  • Open Outlook and go to “File”.
  • Click on “Options” and click “Customize”.
  • Under the “Choose commands from” section, select “All Tabs”.
  • Select “Search” (from the list of tab selections) and click on the “Add” option.
  • Click “OK”.


Fix Outlook 2016 Instant Search Not Working Issue

Read on to know how to ‘fix Outlook 2016 Instant Search not working’ issue.

  • Fix Outlook Indexing Status: When there’s an issue with the Instant Search feature, it fails to fetch hundred percent result. You may also not find recent emails in search results. Or, you may see results up to a particular date. You need to check the indexing status. Here are the steps –
  • You need to open Outlook 2016.
  • Click on the “Search” bar.
  • You will see the “Search Tools” option near “Close Search”. Click on it and choose “Indexing Status…
  • It will then load the Indexing Status. However, you may not find the exact match or the desired mails due to incomplete indexing status.

You need to fix or rebuild the index and resolve the search issue in Outlook 2016. There are two ways to do it –

  1. Repair MS Office Installation:
  • Go to “Control Panel” on your computer.
  • Click “Programs” > “Programs and Features”.
  • Look for the “Change” button and click on it.
  • Now, select “Repair” from the options and click on the “Continue” button.
  • The repairing will begin and will fix the search issue.

2. Using Outlook Index Repair Option:

  • Go to the “File” option in Outlook 2016.
  • Click “Options” > “Search”.
  • Now, click “Indexing Options…
  • A new window will open. You will have to click on the “Microsoft Outlook” option.
  • Now, select the “Advanced” button.
  • Click on the “Rebuild” option and press “OK”.

Steps to Resolve Incomplete Search Results Problem:

We have got two ways to fix the incomplete search results problem.

Increase Email Sync Slider:

  • Open Outlook and go to “File”.
  • Click on the “Account Settings” option.
  • Click “Account Settings…
  • You will be prompted to select email account and click “Change”.
  • Drag the slider to “All”.
  • Click “Next”.
  • Click “OK”.
  • Click “Finish”. (This will close the window. Outlook will restart.)
  • Outlook will index all the mail items. You can search your desired emails.

Allow Search to Display All Results: Outlook has limitation when it comes to showing or displaying the search results. Well, you can follow the steps below to see all results in Outlook 2016.

  • Go to “File” and click “Options”.
  • Click on the “Search” option and unselect the checkbox “Improve search speed by limiting the number of results shown”.
  • Press the “OK” button.
  • You can now restart the Outlook.

Repair Outlook 2016 Installation to Fix Greyed out Search Bar:

  • In Windows 10, go to “Settings”.
  • Click “Apps” and press the “Microsoft Office” button.
  • You need to click “Modify” > “Repair”.
  • Press the “Continue” button. (It will fix the greyed out search bar issue in Outlook).

Fix Personal Folder Outlook Data File (.pst) Using Inbox Repair Tool: The default location of the Outlook data file (.pst) is C:\Users\YOURUSERNAME\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook. When something goes wrong in the data file, you will encounter issues in search. Using SCANPST.EXE or an Inbox Repair Tool, you can analyze and repair the damaged file. To use the tool –

  • Go to “File Explorer” > “C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office16\” or “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office16\”.
  • Find and double-click “EXE”.
  • Select “Browse” (This will select the corrupt Outlook data file .pst).
  • To start the Outlook data file scan process, you need to press the “Start” button.
  • Click “Repair” – if the “Inbox Repair Tool” detects any error.
  • Click “OK”.

Hopefully, you have managed to resolve the issue. Your Outlook 2016 Instant Search option should be working perfectly fine now.

If you find any error, consider reaching out to the technicians at Outlook Customer Support!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *