How to Disable Windows Search

Turn Off Windows 7 & 8 Search Feature

In either Windows 8 or 7, you don’t have to deal with Microsoft’s built-in search features if you don’t want to. Turn them off and use whatever one you want!

While Windows Search can make finding and opening things really convenient, some users may still want to get rid of it. Some might prefer to disable Windows Search to pro-long the life of their SSD. In my case, I use a combination of the two free utilities Search Everything and Launchy, and I find them much more effective. Microsoft has made disabling the Windows Search feature quite simple, if you know where to look.

What else does disabling Windows Search do? A few things:

  • Disables the background processes SearchIndexer.exe, SearchProtocolHost.exe, and SearchFilterHost.exe.
  • (SSD users will like this one) No more writes to the search index database at C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Search\Data\Applications\Windows\Windows.edb
  • No more offline caches of external network attached storage or shares.
  • Increased system performance, even if it is barely noticeable.
Note: Disabling this feature is similar to disabling the Windows Search service, however this method is much more thorough.

Ready to disable it? Okay, the first thing to do is open Control Panel. From here click on “Programs and Features.”

Programs and Features

In the left-sidebar of the following window click the “Turn Windows features on or off.”

Note: You’ll need either administrator privileges, or be logged into an administrator-level account in order to complete this action.

turn windows features on or off

In the Windows Features pop-up, scroll down and uncheck the box labeled “Windows Search.” Click OK to save and apply changes.

windows search

A small confirmation box will appear. Click Yes, and then restart the computer when prompted. We can also wait to restart if it is not currently convenient, however Windows Search will not be disabled until you do so.

turn off windows search might affect other windows features and programs installed on your computer, including default settings. Do you want to continue?you must restart your computer to apply changes

Once the system comes back up, Windows Search will be disabled. You can see the direct effects of this by opening the Start menu. The Search/Run box will be gone! This configuration might not work for everyone, but I sure am happy to have the option.

Before & After


1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. CharlieBeau Diary of a Muzungu

    September 4, 2013 at 7:10 am

    I want one tool to be able to 1) search Outlook and 2) search file content. I loved Windows Search on Windows 7 but have had to disable it as it was constantly accessing the internet, using up all my precious internet airtime. (I work in Uganda where it is still v expensive ‘pay as you go.’) ‘Everything’ seems perfect but I can’t see a Windows 8 version. Installed UltraSearch but doesn’t have search capabilities I need, or am I missing something? Ideally I would like to use Windows Search, but without it accessing internet all the time. Any ideas? What is it doing when it keeps going online? I have battled this for months. The programme svchost.exe seemed to be the problem, but after trying everything else, we isolated it as Windows Search. Had this issue with Windows 7. When I upgraded to W8, I had same problem! Any help gratefully received…

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