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Watch out for a Microsoft Outlook 2007 indexing issue in Windows Vista

Windows Vista's built-in indexer sometimes freezes when attempting to index Microsoft Outlook 2007 content. Fortunately, there is a workaround that will fix the indexing issue.

Windows Vista's built-in indexer sometimes freezes while attempting to index Microsoft Outlook 2007 content. When...

it gets stuck, the status messages in Outlook's Tools -> Instant Search -> Indexing Options menu will claim that there are still items remaining to be indexed across all open mailboxes.

Fortunately, there is a workaround that will unblock this Outlook 2007 indexing logjam: 

  1. Close Microsoft Outlook.
  2. Open the Indexing Options window for Vista -- you can get to this quickly from the Start menu by typing index in the Start Search panel.
  3. Click Modify -> Show All Locations to view all the index search locations. Make a note of everything that's currently flagged for indexing -- you'll need to re-add these items later.
  4. Uncheck everything from this list, including Outlook. To quickly go to the locations that you need to uncheck, just double-click any of the entries in the "Summary of selected locations" window.
  5. Click Close, and then click Advanced to open Advanced Options.
  6. Select Rebuild to completely rebuild the index. Yyou shouldhave "0 items indexed" showing in the main Indexing Options window when you click OK. (The idea is to rebuild the index so that there's nothing in it and nothing being added to it.)
  7. Click Modify -> Advanced and re-add the locations that existed before. Note that "Microsoft Office Outlook" may attempt to automatically re-add itself, and that's OK.
  8. Click OK to complete the re-indexing process.

Keep in mind that the re-indexing process may take some time depending on what you've chosen to include or exclude, and will run faster when the workstation is locked or when the user is not actually doing anything.

About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of Windows Insight, a newsletter devoted to hints, tips, tricks, news and goodies for all flavors of Windows users.

MEMBER FEEDBACK TO THIS MICROSOFT OUTLOOK TIP

Can this be done once so that it covers any user who logs into the Windows Vista machine -- or will these steps need to be done for every user who logs into the Vista machine? (Windows XP does a pretty good job of isolating certain things on a per user basis.)
—Lance P.

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When I tried this on my own Vista computer, I was logged in under an administrator account, which set indexing options for all users (admin and regular). So I would assume that if you reset it once while logged in as admin, it's reset for everyone.
—Serdar Yegulalp, tip author

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Before reading your post, I tried every other fix and nothing worked. I thought this was going to be another one of those "me only" Windows bugs that would never get fixed, but your advice worked perfectly. Now I'm searching through Microsoft Outlook like a champ. Thank you!
—Joe G.

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I just wanted to pass along a "thanks" for this workaround.

I had this exact indexing issue when installing Microsoft Office 2007. Then it happened again after I reinstalled an older version of an outlook.pst file (after incurring a problem with duplicates in the Microsoft Outlook calendar).

I performed a Google search using "search indexing Outlook 2007 problem" and your tip was the second hit. Thanks again!
—Dave H.

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I have the same indexing problem with Microsoft Outlook 2007 on Windows XP. Do you have a fix for Windows XP?
—Leslie

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I haven't tried this on Windows XP, but I suspect it's possible to apply a variation of the same technique using the Windows XP implementation of indexed search.
—Serdar Yegulalp, tip author

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Thank you for the tip. I spent hours trying to figure out why Microsoft Outlook would not complete the indexing process.
—Pamela P.

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I had this Microsoft Outlook indexing issue and your solution fixed it. I am very happy; thank you! I tried permutations of Windows Vista "help" such as rebuilding the index without removing all the locations and then adding them back, but it did not fix the problem. I was out of ideas. Many thanks... great work.
—Peter O.

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I tried doing what you suggest, but it has not fixed the Microsoft Outlook indexing problem. Does the fact that the .PST files are located in a different public folder than the default public folder make a difference?
—D.G.

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Thanks for the brilliantly clear instructions; it worked great. (It took a while after re-opening Microsoft Outlook for it to work, but it does now.)

Why doesn't Microsoft fix these things themselves? I couldn't find any reference to the problem in Outlook help online.

Just one comment on step 7: The option wasn't Modify -> Advanced. To re-add the locations that existed before, I had to click the Modify -> Show All Locationsoption again.
—Barry G.

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I tried this tip from the Windows XP control panel, because Outlook 2007 was not indexing archive folders. I also ran scanpst.exe on my archive folder and although it did repair errors found, it did not fix my problem. Serdar's post did.

Thank you so much!
—C.J.

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This tip didn't work for me. I tried this indexing solution on three computers and all three still have the same problem. For example, I have an email with the word "Payroll" in both the subject line and body. When I search my email folder, the Outlook search feature is unable to find this email. It is really disappointing as well as frustrating. I have always been able to find my email in Microsoft Outlook 2003.
—Chong L.

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