How To Fix Outlook’s Search Feature On A Mac

Do you use Microsoft Outlook 2011, Outlook 2016, or newer, on a Mac? If your copy of Outlook has lost its ability to find emails, here are some suggestions on how to fix Outlook’s search function. Microsoft has written a thorough article outlining all possible causes and fixes when Outlook’s search function stops working. This is great, but I think this article might overwhelm the typical person since it is quite dense and a bit technical. In my experience, the most common cause is a corrupt Spotlight search index. An easy fix for this is to rebuild the Spotlight search index.  Furthermore, in my experience, the most frequent time for Outlook’s search function to stop working is when one migrates to a new Mac from a Time Machine backup. This makes me think that Microsoft’s suggested fix of only reindexing the Outlook database might be a sufficient fix. Microsoft lists the command to reindex the Outlook database in step 7e of their article, but, again, I think it’s a bit too convoluted for many people. Thus, I recommend you simply rebuild the entire Spotlight search index. Microsoft’s article also mentions trying a tool they built, named OutlookSearchRepair. [Note September 2022:  it appears that OutlookSearchRepair is not longer available from Microsoft[  While I’ve only tried this tool twice, it didn’t work for me either time. It’s easy to download it and try it, but if it doesn’t work try rebuilding the entire Spotlight search index.

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