Outlook Search not Working on Mac, Fix

Several users have said Outlook search is not working on their Mac. Users have further reported that the search is unresponsive or the results do not appear as expected. Furthermore, users see a “no results” message when they attempt to search for an email message in Outlook. And lastly, it appears that users get partial or no results when they want to find an email using Spotlight.

Outlook no results

The ability of email searching is important. If you cannot properly search and find what you are looking for, your productivity and efficiency may be impacted negatively. This article explains what you can do when you are having problems with using Outlook search.

Before you do anything, simply restart your Mac. You can restart your Mac by going to the Apple menu > Restart. Restarting may fix your problem. If not, follow these steps:

Check for Updates

Ensure that you get the latest updates. Update Outlook and your Mac:

  • To update your Mac, go to System Preferences and Software Update. If there is an update, follow the onscreen instructions.
  • To update Outlook, open Outlook and click the Help menu, and then click Check for Updates. If you downloaded Outlook from the Mac App Store, open the App Store and update the Outlook app. You can also turn on Automatic Updates.

Rebuild the Spotlight index

Running the OutlookSearchRepair utility may fix search and Spotlight indexing problems. Here is how:

  • On your Mac, in the Finder, click Go in the menu bar and select Go to Folder.
  • Type the following pathname and click Go:
~/Library/Group Containers/UBF8T346G9.Office/Outlook/Outlook 15 Profiles/
  • This will open a folder. There will be a profile folder called “Main Profile” inside. You may have more than one profile folder. Leave it open and then on your Mac, go to System Preferences > Spotlight. Click the Privacy tab.
  • Now, using your mouse or trackpad, drag the “Main Profile” folder to the Privacy tab in System Preferences. In other words, you will add the folder to the list of locations that Spotlight is prevented from searching.
  • After adding the Main Profile folder, select it and then click the (-) remove icon to delete it. Doing so will force Spotlight to reindex it.
  • Repeat this step if you have more than one profile.
  • This will rebuild the Spotlight Outlook search and that may fix your search issue. Restart your Mac and search Outlook.
Mac Spotlight Index

Manually rebuild Spotlight

If you are still having issues, it is possible that your Spotlight index may be corrupted. We can try to manually rebuild it to fix it. We will use Terminal to do this. Here is how:

  • Restart your Mac.
  • Open Terminal (Applications > Utilities).
  • Enter the following command and hit enter:
mdimport -L
Build Spotlight
  • And test your problem. If it does not work, let’s turn Spotlight off and on.
  • Again in Terminal, enter this command and hit enter:
sudo mdutil -a -i off
  • Enter your passcode if asked. Then enter this command and hit enter:
sudo mdutil -i on /
  • Enter your administrator password. And wait for Spotlight to reindex everything.

Repair database

If you’re still having this problem, you may want to try to force Outlook to repair the Outlook database. Follow these steps:

  • Quit Outlook if it is running.
  • Go to the Finder, and click the Go menu and Go to Folder. And enter the following the folder’s pathname:
~/Library/Group Containers/UBF8T346G9.Office/Outlook/Outlook 15 Profiles/Main Profile/Data
  • Locate the Outlook.sqllite file. Move this to your desktop (do not delete yet).
  • Now open Outlook. Outlook will say: “Something’s wrong with the Outlook database. Please repair to fix the problem. Depending on our system configuration and database size, the repair process might take some time.”
Repair Outlook
  • Click Repair. As the message says, this may take a few hours.
  • If this fixes your Outlook search problem, then you can delete the Outlook.sqllite file. If not, if you want, you can restore the file by putting it back.
Outlook database

See also

Dr. Serhat Kurt worked as a Senior Technology Director. He holds a doctoral degree (or doctorate) from the University of Illinois at Urbana / Champaign and a master’s degree from Purdue University. Here is his LinkedIn profile.

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2 thoughts on “Outlook Search not Working on Mac, Fix”

  1. I tried 1) updating, 2) restarting multiple times, 3) ***inserting/removing Main Profile in Spotlight Privacy to force re-index, 4) fully manually rebuilding Spotlight database in terminal, and 5) removing Outlook.sqllite /repairing the Outlook database. I waited overnight to see if the search would come back and restarted, but Outlook still won’t allow search. Can you help me to search e-mail?

  2. Will this work especially the second option with a new Macbook Pro 16 inch running macOS 12.0.1 (Monterey) and new version of MS Mac Office including Outlook for Mac 2021 16.55?


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