How to Rebuild the Outlook 2013 Search Index


When you’re having trouble with searches in Microsoft Outlook, there’s a possibility that a corrupted search index is to blame. Rebuilding it may fix the problem.

Sometimes when migrating emails, rebuilding PST files, and enabling additional mailboxes, the Outlook search index can fail to update or even become corrupted. This isn’t something that happens too often, but if you are frequently moving emails between different computers, then the odds drastically go up. Most problems with the search index can be fixed by deleting and rebuilding it, so let’s do that.

Rebuild Outlook Search Index

In Outlook 2013, click the File ribbon and then select Options.

Once the Outlook Options window appears, click the Search tab from the left column.

outlook file ribbon optionsoutlook options > search

At the right side of the right pane, click the Indexing Options button.

search options

Another smaller window should appear titled Indexing Options. Click the Advanced button here. Note: This may require administrator privileges.

Next on the default Index Settings tab click the Rebuild button.

indexing optionsadvanced indext settings

Outlook will prompt with a warning that rebuilding the index may take a long time to complete. Also, while the index is being rebuilt searches probably won’t work. Click OK to begin the rebuild.

There isn’t a set way to determine the amount of time it will take to build the index. It varies depending on the number of emails, file size, and processing power of the computer.

rebuild index confirmation

Back on the Indexing Options window, the status will update at the top. It should start out by showing the items currently indexed and the status of the index rate below it. If you have other applications running in the background then it will display a message saying “indexing speed is reduced due to user activity.”

outlook indexing status

Once Outlook finishes building the index it will say that Indexing is complete in the status window.



  1. D

    I went through this entire procedure with the warning message and everything but when I go back to see the status of the index build it says that all items are indexed (it never deleted and attempted the re-build). In short, it didn’t do what I told it to do. What do I do now?

    • PhilippT

      Hey D,

      an alternative could be replacing the Outlook Search with an addin like Lookeen.
      It builds it’s own index and can also be used as a desktop search tool.
      There is a 14 days trial version you can try and see for yourself if this might be an alternative.

      Best regards.

      Followup: I’m a part of the company that developed Lookeen

    • P

      This is exactly what is happening with me. More recent items in Outlook are not appearing in the search results, but anything older than a month is appearing. The rebuild option does nothing – comes up with the warning, but the index status says “complete” immediately with almost 100k items.

      • Brad Fletcher

        This also happened to me and anything newer than May 8, 2015 will not show in search results. I am on outlook 2013 and Windows 8.1 and have not done any recent upgrades except standard security updates each week.

  2. Julia O

    I just followed these steps and it was done indexing 28k items immediately. Essentially, it didn’t do what I told it to do.
    What do I do now? please post an update on this issue.

    • Ido

      I am also having this problem, kind of fixed it by removing MS outlook from the index locations, restarting outlook and adding MS outlook again.

      Now outlook is indexing, I see the number increasing.

      Dont hit the rebuild index button, it will say index done again.

      • B

        Thanks Ido – this worked for me

        • Enzo

          Thanks this also worked for me

          • David P

            Worked for me too! I rebuilt the index 3 times without success.

  3. Ben

    Same here. Office 2013, Windows 7 Pro. Indexing status says 277,000 items indexed. Search works on files. Does not work on Outlook items. I’ve tried all the various instructions I found online. None solve the problem. I see numerous complaints about this on various forums. I wish MS would take this seriously. It’s a pain

  4. Sally

    Why is my ‘indexing options’ button greyed out??

  5. david

    ive got a greyed out indexing option too

    • Virtech

      Are you logged in as Administrator?

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