Windows 11 Search Bar Not Working? Here’s 9 Ways to Fix It

Featured Image Window11 Search Bar Error

For many Windows users, the Windows Search bar is the most important utility. On a Windows 11 device, however, you may find this option disabled. This is, in fact, a common issue facing those who plan to get the free upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11. There’s no single reason behind it being disabled. Therefore, our solutions below range from quick, easy fixes to more elaborate troubleshooting, including a reset option.

Why Is Windows 11 Search Disabled?

To use anything on your computer, you first need to search for it. The Windows Search bar (or Search box) is a one-tap utility that helps you quickly access your File Explorer, apps, registries, and documents.

The Windows 11 Search bar error is a widespread bug where the search bar is disabled, not allowing you to type anything at all. Also, the Windows 11 Start menu (with its own new search box) might not respond to your clicks. You can’t even access the Shutdown and Restart buttons!

Windows11 Stuck Search Menu Stuck

In the past, the issue was mainly affecting those users who migrated from Windows 10 to Windows 11. It’s unlikely to affect any PC or laptop that came pre-installed with Windows 11. There’s no other reason for this apart from Microsoft’s own bugs. Thus, a few remedial steps are all you need to get your computer search back.

It’s different, though, with Windows 10: the problem might actually be traced to your device, due to many accumulated errors over time. If you’re having this issue in Windows 10, try one of our solutions specific to that version.

With Windows 11, you need to try the following fixes in order.

1. Enable Search Button on Taskbar

On Windows 11 devices, the search function is merged with Taskbar options. You need to first check whether the Search menu has been disabled.

  1. As you can’t use the search button anymore, right-click anywhere on the taskbar to bring up the “Taskbar settings” option. Click on it.
Windows11 Stuck Search Taskbar Settings
  1. A new “Settings” window will open as shown below.
  2. Enable the “Search” Taskbar item if was disabled after the Windows 11 update.
Windows11 Stuck Personalization Taskbar Items Search Enabled

Try using the search button with your Windows 11 device again. If it doesn’t work, try the next few steps.

2. Check for Windows Updates

Sometimes an update and restart in Windows 11 is all you need to fix the search bar error.

  1. Go to “Settings” on your Windows computer by pressing Win + I.
  2. From the right-side menu, select “Windows Update -> Check for Update”.
Windows11 Stuck Search Check New
  1. Check your device for any pending updates.
  2. If you have one or more pending, install them and restart the computer to see if the bug is gone.
Windows11 Stuck Search Checking For Updates

3. Use Search and Indexing Troubleshooter in Windows 11

Windows devices have a built-in troubleshooter for all major and minor glitches. Using the search and indexing troubleshooter should fix the search bug issue for most users. Follow the steps below:

  1. Go to “Settings -> System -> Troubleshoot”.
Windows11 Stuck Search Settings System Troubleshoot
  1. Select “Other Troubleshooters.”
Windows11 Stuck Search Other Troubleshooters
  1. Click “Run” next to “Search and Indexing.”
Windows11 Stuck Search And Indexing Run 1
  1. Wait a few seconds for “Search and Indexing” to detect the problems.
Windows11 Stuck Search And Indexing Detecting Problems
  1. You will see “Search and Indexing” populate the problems due to search not showing. Click all that apply, especially “Can’t start a search or see results.”
Windows11 Stuck Search And Indexing Check Problems Noticed
  1. It may help to describe the problem in detail.
Windows11 Stuck Search And Indexing Describing Problem
  1. The troubleshooter will diagnose that Windows search is not working. You need to repair the problem as an administrator. Click to proceed.
Windows11 Stuck Search And Indexing Repairs Administrator
  1. Wait a few seconds (or minutes) while “Search and Indexing” restarts the Windows search application to resolve the problem.
Windows11 Stuck Search Resolving Problems
  1. A message will say that troubleshooting has completed. The troubleshooter will make some changes to your system, and you should see green checkmarks next to all kinds of search problems signifying that Windows search is now working on your device.
Windows11 Stuck Search Troubleshooting Has Completed

Some of the common search problems resolved through the troubleshooter include “Incorrect permissions on Windows Search directories” and “Windows Search is not working.”

If the Windows troubleshooter also fails to solve the search problem, try one of these minor tweaks below.

4. Restart the Windows Search Service

If your Windows search service is stuck for no reason, restarting it once will resolve the problem.

  1. Open “Services” from the Run menu using the keyboard shortcut Win + R.
Windows11 Stuck Search Services Msc Run Command
  1. Scroll down to find “Windows Search.”
  2. Right-click to restart it.
Windows11 Stuck Search Services Windows Search Restart
  1. Windows will now attempt to stop the Windows search service on your computer. Wait a few seconds for this service to restart on your device, and your search button should work again.
Windows11 Stuck Search Attempting Stop Service

5. Tweak the Touch Keyboard and Handwriting Panel Service

It is possible that your search results are frozen due to errors in the “Touch Keyboard” which is connected with the Windows search bar. Windows devices have a mechanism to unfreeze the “Touch Keyboard”.

  1. From the “Services” dashboard, go ahead and access “Touch keyboard and handwriting panel service.”
  2. Double-click it or use right-click on “Properties.”
Windows11 Stuck Search Services Touch Keyboard Handwriting Panel Service
  1. Under the “General” tab, change the “Manual” default startup type to “Automatic.”
Windows11 Stuck Search Touch Keyboard Handwriting Automatic Startup 1
  1. Go to the “Recovery” tab and set “Subsequent failures” to “Restart the service”.
  2. At the same time, change the “Reset fail count after” variable from “1” to “0.”
Windows11 Stuck Search Services Touch Keyboard Restart The Service Recovery
  1. Return to the “General” tab and press the “Start” button.

This should fix the search issues immediately. If you do not see the Start button greyed out, move on to the next solution.

6. Enable Search History on Device and Clear Past Search History

When you hover your mouse cursor inside the search box, you can see your recent search history. This is an important menu option without which your search results will not be displayed, so make sure it’s enabled.

  1. Open the “Settings” menu, as explained above.
  2. Go to “Privacy & Security -> Search permissions.”
Windows11 Stuck Search Settings Permissions
  1. Ensure that “Search history on the device” is turned on.
Windows11 Stuck Search Privacy And Security Device Search History
  1. Press on the “Clear device search history”, restart your Windows 11 PC, and check if the search bar error is gone.

7. Ensure Your Search Results Aren’t Within Excluded Folders

Windows 11 and 10 allow you to exclude any folder from search results. If the folder containing one of your important files and applications is excluded from Windows search results, you won’t be able to see any inside information.

  1. From “Settings”, go to “Privacy & Security -> Searching Windows”.
Windows11 Stuck Search Setting To Windows Search
  1. Here you’ll see a complete list of excluded folders such as “C:\Windows.” If whatever you’re looking for is unavailable through search, then you should check if that folder itself is not on this list.
Windows11 Stuck Search Privacy And Security Search Excluded Folder
  1. If any of your program files and applications lie within an excluded folder, you can easily remove it from the list later by pressing on the three-dots next to the folder and selecting “Remove”. You can also create your own exclusion folders.
Windows11 Stuck Search Remove Excluded Folder

8. Use CTRL + ALT + DEL

  1. Before trying the main solution to the Windows search issues, try using the Task Manager’s Ctrl + Alt + Del option once.
  2. Under the “Details” tab, scroll down below to find to “SearchHost.exe” app or “SearchIndex.exe.”
  3. End those processes by right-clicking and selecting “End task” and restart then again. This will restart your search services immediately. If the items are invisible, proceed to the last solution.
Windows11 Stuck Search Task Manager End Task Searchindex

9. Reset Windows 11

If the above steps don’t work, you need to reset your Windows 11 device.

Of course, you can try this method first, however, as it is the most time-consuming process, we recommend it being your last resort. This is really the nuclear option.

  1. From the Windows 11 Settings menu, go to “System -> Recovery -> Recovery Options -> Reset this PC” and click “Reset PC.”
Windows11 Stuck Search Reset Pc
  1. Choose either “Keep your files” or “Remove everything.” Even if you choose the first option, don’t forget to make a backup of all your Windows data.
Windows11 Stuck Search Reset Pc Keep My Files
  1. Wait a few minutes for it to proceed.
Windows11 Stuck Search Reset Pc Getting Things Ready Wont Take Long
  1. You have two options to reinstall Windows: “Cloud download” and “Local reinstall.” Choose the former, as a local reinstall will replicate the same search bug, especially if you upgraded from Windows 10.
Windows11 Stuck Search Reset Pc Cloud Download
  1. The “Additional settings” page will open. Click “Next” to proceed.
Windows11 Stuck Search Reset Pc Addtional Settings
  1. You might see a warning that your PC was recently updated. By going for a reset, you can no longer undo this. It’s safe to ignore this warning by pressing “Next”. It primarily means you can no longer use Windows 11’s system settings to “go back” to Windows 10. However, you can always downgrade to Windows 10 whenever you want.
Windows11 Stuck Search Reset No Undo Update
  1. Finally, click on “Reset”.
Windows11 Stuck Search Reset Pc Ready To Reset This Pc 2
  1. If you want, you can review a list of apps that will be removed during the reset. You can always reinstall those.
Windows11 Stuck Search Reset Apps To Be Removed
  1. Sit back and wait for your Windows 11 device to reset as it prepares the system and downloads the updates. The device will automatically restart after this, and no more intervention is needed at the user end.
Windows11 Stuck Search Reset Pc Preparing To Reset

The complete reset procedure can take a few hours, or even nearly a day, depending on how slow your device is. Keep it plugged in. After the reset, the Windows 11 device search function will be functional again.

Windows11 Stuck Search Is Unstuck 1

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Windows 11 reset wipe all hard drives?

Windows 11 may or may not wipe all hard drives after a reset. The answer depends on whether you use a cloud download or local download options.

Why does my Windows search bar fail to work even after Troubleshooting?

There are many reasons why Windows search bar fails to work even after you’ve tried these fixes. If you’re using an unauthorized Windows ISO installed on your PC, then the search will fail to work because of conflicts with your device. Similarly if your PC is not compatible with Windows 11, these errors are commonplace. Follow our guide on latest Windows 11 installations or you can reset the PC via the above methods. Always go for a fresh installation on your Windows PC. Otherwise these errors will emerge occasionally.

Why am I unable to “reset” in Windows 11?

The Windows 11 reset option will only work if you have a valid Windows license on your device. If you used an unauthorized version, the cloud reset option will not work. You can reinstall Windows 11 on your PC by using a valid license.

If you have a valid Windows 10 license, it’s recommended to first go back to Windows 10 using a clean install, removing any unauthorized ISO trace. After this, you can get a free upgrade to Windows 11 again.

Image credit: Pixabay All screenshots by Sayak Boral

Sayak Boral
Sayak Boral

Sayak Boral is a technology writer with over eleven years of experience working in different industries including semiconductors, IoT, enterprise IT, telecommunications OSS/BSS, and network security. He has been writing for MakeTechEasier on a wide range of technical topics including Windows, Android, Internet, Hardware Guides, Browsers, Software Tools, and Product Reviews.

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