Windows 11 bug breaks Outlook searches (again)

Windows 11 working on a laptop PC
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Windows 11 users have in some cases found themselves suffering at the hands of a bug which interferes with Outlook search results.

As spotted by Bleeping Computer, the email client can fail to return results pertaining to recent messages when running a search in Outlook on Windows 11 PCs. The issue can happen with POP, IMAP, and offline Exchange accounts, scenarios in which Outlook uses the local Windows Search service to index emails (in most cases).

Online Exchange accounts and Microsoft 365 are not affected as they use service search for the majority of searches, and this isn’t hit by the gremlin in question.

Microsoft explains that it is investigating the issue, and is “currently working on a solution” with an update on any fix to be provided in the support document flagging the problem.

Meantime, that article offers up a temporary workaround for affected users who are being frustrated by wonky search results in Outlook.

Analysis: Search bug strikes again – hopefully with a quick fix?

Bugs are to be expected, even if they are unwelcome – and much too prevalent since Windows 10 arrived – but the situation with this one is a bit more embarrassing for Microsoft seeing as the same kind of Outlook bug happened last year when Windows 11 was first pushed out (before being fixed in January 2022). So, it doesn’t look good for Microsoft that the glitch has re-emerged.

It's also not great that the provided workaround involves the registry, an area of the system that requires a good deal of care when you’re tinkering and making changes (small slips can wreak havoc here). If you do want to apply the temporary workaround, be very careful following Microsoft’s outlined steps for troubleshooting (and also bear in mind that the fudged solution involves disabling Windows Desktop Search – basically forcing Outlook to use its own search).

This was exactly the same workaround Microsoft aired when this problem first reared its head last year, you may recall. Hopefully given the previous experience troubleshooting this bug, a remedy should be forthcoming in short order – though there’s always the chance that this is a seemingly thornier flaw in Outlook than thought, given its reoccurrence.

We shall see, but it’s worth keeping an eye on that support page where a notification will come through regarding any fix which has been implemented.  

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).