The Windows Search Engine Is Currently Disabled

If you have ever gotten this error message you may have been left scratching your head wondering why…kinda like me.

The Windows Search Engine is currently disabled. Outlook will not be able to provide fast search results using the Instant Search functionality unless the service is running.

Well, like any tech savvy user I went into the Windows features section and found that Windows Search was in fact enabled.  Then I figured, the service may have just stopped running or something happened and it couldn’t start properly when I turned the laptop on. So I went to the Windows Services and found to my amazement that it was running just the way it should. Again, being a technical person with fairly good troubleshooting skills my next step was obvious and it worked!

That’s right, I went to good ol’ Google. A couple modified searches later (because the first two searches only brought back people who did have the search service running) I came across this wonderful blog. I cannot take credit for coming up with this solution at all.

Without trying to explain why each of these things matter, do the following and you’ll be good to go…hopefully.

  1. In the Windows Features be sure the Windows Search feature is checked (most of the blogs will tell you this, so it’s probably the most common fix)
  2. While in the Windows Features go ahead and make sure that Indexing Services is checked off too.
  3. Finally inside Outlook go to File >  Options > Add-Ins and look under the Disabled Application Add-ins section. If you see Windows Search Email Indexer be sure to enable that.

That’s about it.  You should be good to go on your awesome email searching functionality.

Bradley Schacht

Bradley Schacht is a Cloud Solution Architect on the state and local government team with Microsoft based in Jacksonville, FL. He has co-authored 3 SQL Server books including "SQL Server 2014 Professional Administration". As a former consultant and trainer, he uses his experience on many parts of the Microsoft BI and data platform to help customers deliver the best possible solutions. Bradley frequently presents at community events around the country. He is a contributor to sites such as and an active member of the Jacksonville SQL Server User Group (JSSUG).

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12 Responses

  1. Anquera says:

    Thank you! This had been working fine and suddenly it was turned off. I keep thousands of emails in my Inbox so I am dead without the fast search.

  2. Doug says:

    I can’t find “Windows Features” on the control panel of XP.

  3. signboard says:

    Go to Control Panel->Program and features->Turn Windows features on or off. Wait for files to be filled in the box->Indexing services check box is above internet explorer

  4. justin klenk says:

    ON THE LAST STEP (OUTLOOK SEARCH ADD-IN HAPPENS TO BE DISABLED), IT’S IMPORTANT TO NOTE (for us semi-novice users) that, TO EDIT that search add-in – which is disabled, and which you need to enable – you must click on the (not at ALL obvious, in keeping with just about every other dialog that MS produces) “GO” button (next to the bottom drop-down field) – NOT double-click, right-click, or anything else, on the actual entry you’re trying to edit/enable!!
    [Oh yeah, and the OPTION YOU NEED TO CHOOSE there? Make sure it’s NOT “Disabled Items” (duh..???), but rather “COM Add-ins” – as if anyone would know what the HELL that means!! Pretty unbelievable, in this day and age, how unusable basic Windows dialogs are to the average (not to mention the lower-than-avg) user – as they have ever been… and will one day die as, or finally evolve. Of course, to GET TO that confusing/unusable (until you do more research and burn more of your precious time and energy) dialog, you have to (know how to) do a bit of research to identify your problem and GET TO the place where you can BEGIN to deal with it, after any false leads have been eliminated.]

  5. mike says:

    Thank you! Could not figure this out until I found your post and changed my add-in settings.

  6. shawn says:

    agreed – NOT intuitive (surprise, surprise) but thanks to all for the great help!

  7. Linda says:

    Thanks for documenting your findings that indeed is very helpful. Unfortunately, not in my case.
    Thought to share hoping somebody have similar situation!

    No matter what, I cannot keep the Windows Search Email Indexer in Outlook enabled. As soon as I close Outlook, it goes back to Disabled Application Add-ins.

    I already checked the Indexing Service and Windows Search, both are enabled and looks like working fine.

    Well, as mentioned earlier good old friend Google directed me to
    Which say “Windows Search Email Indexer remains disabled in Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013
    …. This behavior is by design. Windows Desktop Search installs a MAPI Protocol Handler. This handler is responsible for indexing data in earlier versions of Outlook. Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013 now include some of that indexing and search functionality in the program….”

    I’m still getting the pop up message!

    Any idea would greatly appreciated 🙂

  8. Carl Strydom says:

    Have an exact similar experience as that of Linda. Seems MS has not come up with an answer to this problem at all, as my MS Outlook 2013 still cannot do a quick search, even though Indexing service and Windows Search are enabled. Indexing takes forever and then some. Really a blight on MS for such poor design work.

  9. Bev says:

    When I open the Windows Feature it is empty and does not list anything there. I’m afraid I might have deleted something. Can you tell me what I might need to reinstall? Thank you.

  10. Tan says:

    If you facing outlook add ins seach function issues like linda and mike, you may follow the below page

  11. Tan says:

    If you facing outlook add ins seach function issues like linda and mike, you may follow the below page
    (Previous link is not workable)

  12. fazril says:

    thank you, finally i can search any email quickly

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