The Outlook 2007 search function stopped working for me several months ago. I have not been able to identify what the culprit was. I have subsequently read if you try to install an older MS Office application it will hose the search feature in Outlook 2007.
Although I don’t recall trying to install an older Office application, several months ago I did have an issue whenever I booted up my computer I would be greeted with a message prompting me to have Outlook Express compact messages to save space. Because I did not have Outlook Express installed, it was a bit frustrating to get this message on startup. So, after a little research, I discovered the only way to completely eradicate the problem required that I manually delete some files and make some registry hacks. FWIW, that did take care of that issue. However,
… it may or may not have been related to the issue that the search feature in Outlook 2007 stopped working. Another possible reason for the search function in Outlook 2007 no longer working, I felt could possibly be related to using Outlook 2007 to open Outlook data files from Outlook 97-2003. At any rate, something caused the search function to stop working. Additionally, I also discovered the Instant Search on my Desktop was not working. However, Advanced Search continued to work just fine.
There have been numerous times when having the search capability would have been helpful. So, recently I did a little more research on this and discovered that if there was a problem with either the Outlook search function or the Desktop Instant Search function, it would affect the indexing of the other. Also, I read that a solution that had worked for some was to select Search Options from the Microsoft Outlook 2007 Search Bar and then uncheck the box for indexing the Outlook data file. Shut down Outlook and then restart it and reverse the action by putting a check back in the box to index the Outlook data file. So, I tried that possible solution and it did not change anything.
I also read about another option that worked for some others. If you restart your computer in Safe Mode and open Outlook 2007 it was supposed to prompt you to repair the Outlook installation. The reported information was somewhat vague, so I wondered if that meant it would want me to locate my install disk and plug it in. As it turned out that was not necessary. At this point I should mention that I hadn’t needed to initiate a start in Safe Mode since I built this computer; and I quickly discovered pressing F8 did not start the computer in Safe Mode. Instead, it went on to a normal startup. Why did F8 not work? The reason for this was because my USB Keyboard was not being recognized when I pressed F8. So, to fix this I needed to enter BIOS setup and enable Keyboard USB Support and while I was at it I also enabled Mouse USB support. That little problem out of the way and I was then able to boot up in Safe Mode.
This is where I got a heart palpitation. Safe Mode loaded and I clicked to open Outlook 2007. However, rather than opening up Outlook, my computer crashed. So, I rebooted and attempted to boot up in Safe Mode again. This time my computer crashed without completing the Safe Mode bootup. So, I tried to bootup with the Last Known Good Configuration. This didn’t work either. It crashed during boot up, too. I thought, maybe this newly developed problem might be CPU related, so I restarted my computer and went into setup to look at the CPU temp and fan speeds. They were within acceptable ranges. So, I decided to try to reboot with a normal startup and see what happened. Better luck this time. I was greeted with a Chkdsk sreen. During stage two of the three stages, two Outlook related files were deleted and then it attempted recovery of the orphaned files. This was followed by a normal startup. I opened up Outlook and expected to see a folder titled Lost & Found Files, which would have been consistent with what I had read on a Microsoft Support site. Instead of the Lost & Found folder all of my folders were listed. However, there were hundreds of emails now in my Inbox, Junk Folder and even a Spam folder which had been deleted, some as long ago as six months or more prior. So, I deleted a couple thousand emails and checked to see if the search function was working. It was not. However, I was happy my computer was able to boot up normally. I tried the unchecking and checking sequence referenced above. That did no good either. I then went online and downloaded Windows Desktop Search 4.0 and installed it. I discovered fairly soon that Desktop Instant Search was working again. Good News!!! Unfortunately, when I opened Outlook, the search function was not working. Again I tried the uncheck and check routine to see if that would fix the problem. Once again, there was no difference. However, the following day, just for giggles, I decided to try the search feature in Outlook 2007 and to my surprise, it was working.
So, if Outlook search has quit working for you, you may want to try these methods to fix the problem. I hope it works for you. Let me know if it helps.