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) does not respond to your clicks. You can’t even access the Shutdown and Restart buttons!
Recently, the issue has been affecting the users who migrated from Windows 10 to Windows 11. It’s unlikely to affect any PC or laptop that came preinstalled 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.
- As you can’t use the search button anymore, look for the “Settings” menu on the right. Click “All Settings.”
- Go to “Settings -> Personalization -> Taskbar.”
- Enable the “Search” Taskbar item if was disabled after the Windows 11 update.
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.
- Go to “Settings -> Windows Update -> Check for Update.”
- Check your device for any pending updates. Finish them and restart the computer to see if the bug is gone.
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:
- Go to “Settings -> System -> Troubleshoot.”
- Select “Other Troubleshooters.”
- Click “Run” next to “Search and Indexing.”
- Wait a few seconds for Search and Indexing to detect the problems.
- The troubleshooter will mainly look for the latest incidents of Windows Search service crashes and resolve the troubles you’re facing.
- You will see Search and Indexing populate the problems due to search not showing. Click all that apply, especially “Can’t see a search or search results.”
- It may help to describe the problem in detail.
- The troubleshooter will diagnose that Windows search is not working. You need to repair the problem as an administrator. Click to proceed.
- Wait a few seconds (or minutes) while Search and Indexing restarts the Windows search application to resolve the problem.
- A message will say that troubleshooting has completed. The troubleshooter makes some changes to your system, and you should see a green checkmark signifying that Windows search is now working on your device.
If the Windows troubleshooter also fails to solve the search problem, try one of these minor tweaks below.
4. Restart the Windows Search Service
- Open “Services” from the Run menu using the keyboard shortcut Win + R.
- Scroll down to find “Windows Search.” Right-click to restart it.
- Windows attempts 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.
5. Tweak the Touch Keyboard and Handwriting Panel Service
- Also from the “Services” dashboard, you can access “Touch keyboard and handwriting panel service.”
- Double-click it or use right-click on “Properties.”
- Under the “General” tab, change the “manual” default startup type to “automatic.”
- Go to the “Recovery” tab and set “Subsequent failures” to “Restart the service.” Also, reset the fail count from “1” to “0.”
- Return to the “General” tab and reset 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. Using “Ctrl + Alt + Del”
Before trying the main solution to the Windows search issues, try using the Task Manager’s Ctrl + Alt + Del option once.
Under the “Details” tab, scroll down below to find to “SearchUI.exe” app or “SearchApp.exe.” End that process and restart it again. This will restart your search services immediately. If the items are invisible, proceed to the last solution.
7. 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.
- From the Windows 11 Settings menu, go to “System Recovery -> Recovery Options -> Reset this PC” and click “Reset PC.”
- 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.
- Wait a few minutes for it to proceed.
- 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.
- The “Additional settings” option is shown. While downloading and reinstalling Windows 11, restore the apps and settings which came with the PC. It can consume more than 4 GB of data. Click “Next” to proceed.
- 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.
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.
- Once you’re ready to reset your PC, you can no longer go back. Click “Next” to proceed.
- If you want, you can review a list of apps that will be removed during the reset. You can always reinstall those.
- Sit back and wait for the Windows 11 device to reset as it prepares the device and downloads the updates. The device will automatically restart after this, and no more intervention is needed at the user end.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. I tried all of the above troubleshooting steps. Why is my Windows 11 search still not working?
Such a problem may occur in those PCs with unauthorized Windows 11 ISO installations. It’s important to download a valid Windows 11 copy from the official Microsoft site. Now that Windows 11 has been formally launched, and its media creation tool and Disk ISO available online, you don’t need anything else.
With these official tools, you can have a clean installation on your Windows device. The search bug will disappear, as will any other major issues.
2. 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.
Now that you have fixed the search issues on your Windows 11 device, you should try changing its default apps and browser. You can do so many new things on a Windows 11 device, which wasn’t possible with Windows 10. For example, you can install Linux GUI apps.