How-To Geek

How to Disable Search In Windows


If you really don’t use Windows Search much, you can disable indexing completely by turning off the Windows Search service. You’ll still be able to search–it will just take longer without an index.

If you’re thinking of disabling Search because it’s slowing things down, we recommend trimming down what files and folders are getting indexed and seeing if that works for you first. And if you’re experiencing crashes or inaccurate searches, try rebuilding your search index. You should also note that other apps–notably Microsoft Outlook–use Windows Search to allow searching within those apps, so you’ll have to do without fast searching in those, as well.

That said, if you’re planning on using another search app or you just don’t search often and would rather not have the service running, Windows Search is easy to disable. Hit Start, type “services,” and then click the result.


On the right-hand side of the “Services” window, find the “Windows Search” entry and double-click it.


In the “Startup type” drop-down menu, select the “Disabled” option. This will prevent Windows Search from loading the next time you start your computer. Click the “Stop” button to go ahead and stop the Windows Search service now. When the service has stopped, click “OK.”


And that’s it. Windows Search is now disabled, a fact that Windows is happy to remind you about (and offer to fix) when you do perform searches.


If you want to turn Windows Search back on, all you have to do is return to it in the Services window, change the “Startup type” option back to “Automatic,” and then click Start to start the service back up.

Walter Glenn is a long time computer geek and tech writer. Though he's mostly a Windows and gadget guy, he has a fondness for anything tech. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Published 02/4/10

Comments (41)

  1. Scott

    You know if you typed windows feature in the search box you would of got there faster

  2. Ray

    Not even, just typing features would have sufficed which is why I am never turning if off. It is the best thing since sliced bread.

  3. whiplash55

    Windows search in Vista and 7 are the best feature they have. Having used Google desktop and some third part app I can’t remember the name of, the MS native app kicks butt.

  4. Arun Mahendrakar

    Thank you soooo much.. I’ve always wanted to get rid of the search text box on the start menu. Thanks again.


  5. Bjoern

    You should also turn it off if you got an SSD.

  6. Carlfinity

    @Arun Same here! The search features is somewhat too annoying for me. They should remove it in their next big patch.

  7. Yatti420

    You can also save cycles by going into indexing and limiting what Windows 7 will store in the index.. If you use alot of files stored in your local user folder it can become a nightmare.. Go to Start > Control Panel > Indexing Options.. I only allow Windows 7 to index my start menu.. As I know where everything is on my computer..

  8. TG2

    What about a classic search feature? I’m in the camp that this “search” from the start menu is bad. Its like “Finder” in OSx … here’s one for you, how long will it be, before crackers and virus writers release something that tries to trick search? And for in explorer, how about how slow it is, to recognize new files in the directory you have displayed!? I mean really … didn’t MS think to have it look for X file in the directory in view *BEFORE* hitting the database of indexed records … or at the very least, indexing the location immediately upon someone entering a search term? Its absolutely its worst feature … that it doesn’t see files that are literally right in front of it! Its only made it more important to me to keep my files in a reliable hierarchy because I know windows search will never find it as fast as I can if I just click to the right folder.

  9. TG2

    PS. in the crackers “trick” search .. I mean you enter something like “control panel” in the search box, or what ever other program you might be looking for … and the top results returned look like the item you want, but are infact virus/worm/trojans that the crackers got onto your system.. And in the “Finder” on OSx … I still remember the first time I typed Terminal up there and it didn’t return Terminal as one of the results to start a “cmd”/terminal window.

  10. D. Bertisen

    Ok this removes the anoying field of start menu (witch is what I’m searching for)

    But… Doesn’t this kill the search funcionality all together?

  11. Lorina Lamm

    In windows 7where is the classic search feature. I want to search by date, word in a document, or within a certain directory. The new feature absolutely sucks! Can anyone direct me?

  12. D. Bertisen

    @ Lorina Lamm
    “Word in a Document”
    …is a function of the new search engine started in Vista and implemented in Win7. The directories just need to be added to the indexing service.
    “Within a certain directory”
    …is used whenever U start a search from within a folder (uper right corner I believe). It’ll then search that (and underlying) folders first.

  13. gggirlgeek

    You can turn of “Search” without losing the Start Menu functionality by going to Services and disabling Windows Search. This still allows you to search the computer and search the start menu. It just turns off Indexing which slows down the whole computer.

    Find Services by typing Services in the Start Menu :) or Start>Run> type Services.msc

    You may have to turn it on and let it refresh once in a while if you are missing newly installed programs in Start Search. Just turn it off again after an hour or two.

  14. gggirlgeek

    Everything is an amazing little search engine for your computer. Fast as heck and takes almost no resources. Yes, it’s free.

  15. netman

    What I used ALWAYS and greatly miss is the “search” on the right click/action menu in windows explorer. This allowed a quicker search for a file within a folder tree. I have thousands of folders organizing my data — which is in tens of thousands of files. Yes, I can find it myself, but that search feature was so awesome. The search “bar” that searches absolutely everything is so entirely annoying, especially on the start menu! I use my keyboard to pull up items on the start menu — and the default cursor in the “search field” is completely useless for me!

    I guess I’ll have to remove it and go with that Everything utility. What a shame.

    I HATE Windows 7!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It might be better “under the hood”, but the redesign of the “steering wheel” makes me not want to drive it. :)

  16. the man

    I hate win 7 search also

    MS keeps thinking all users are morons, they should really stop

  17. Search OFF!

    I am more used to open application shortcuts from start menu with keyboard shortcuts. (if you know what i mean).
    with the search bar it kills keyboard shortcuts. that’s why I need to turn it off.

  18. Mollie

    An easier way to get rid of Windows Search WITHOUT losing the search box is to to disable the Windows Search service. That way, you still have the option of turning it back on without having to reinstall it. Be sure to disable it through the Management Console – not through msconfig.

  19. Baron Smith

    I’m glad this article explains how to get rid of the search box from the start menu. That is my main objective becuase I like to press keys to jump quickly to start menu links, not do some search. I don’t have a problem per se with the search feature (don’t know much about it) but hate that it’s in the start menu and you can’t use keys to jump to items quickly.

  20. kermittt

    i am missing so much that old search as well as the search option in contextual menu…

    when you have a folder with many files.. what’s the advantage of having to open it to search in it?
    especially if you know what you are looking for in it…

    and what’s the point of displaying many unrelated files? the search result is hard enough to read..

    windows seven may be better than vista (which isn’t hard since vista is crap).. but it is far from being as good as xp (professionally speaking as it hardly doesnt include any new feature in the hood).

  21. MikeF12

    I just want to express solidarity with other thinking human beings on the planet who HATE Vista/Win7 Search. It is an absolute regression from Win2K/XP.

  22. X42SR

    I noticed that when the search bar is disabled, it leaves a bar in its place. For me its an eyesore, since I take notice of small details.


  23. mavis


    I want to put search on to the menu, (it was never installed in the first place)

    I follow your instructions, but there is no search checbox on the list ???

    any ideas

  24. technopeasant

    Thanks for posting this. Windoze search is slow, takes up CPU and screen space and often cant find anything.
    And I dont mean just their most recent implementation. 3rd party is the way to go for me.

  25. gampreto

    hey, i’m looking for feature like add exception in antivirus. but it is for search feature in win 7? i need to hide some folder from the search? do u know how to use it?

  26. pcunite

    I’ve done what this article says because it also stops the search service from running. I don’t like stuff running on my box except what I need. Then I installed FileSearchEX for that classic XP style look. Cheers.

  27. mobinga

    “Scott::You know if you typed windows feature in the search box you would of got there faster”


  28. jvmerc

    Windows 7 search is a huge step backwards from a user interface perspective. Why not just have people open a DOS window. I’ve been trying to get used to it for since I beta’d W7. I don’t put anything of importance on any of my W7 machines. Never can find them with the search.

  29. nick

    people like to complain. I agree for SSD’s
    People who write here probably are at least IT cowboys who think they know what they are doing.
    This is good for corporate lockdowns and the cowboys. Grandma and the gang ought to keep it.
    I am a dos master, linux rules (or does it) I love mcdonalds. However Im a banker and I make a lot of money come kill me in my castle hippies

  30. Devlin7

    Turning off Windows Search is a must in a corporate network. Removing the search prevents all sorts of weird issues we were having. like opening My Computer and none of the network drives showing. Indexing was having a huge hit on the CPU [yes I know it can be tweaked] also the search was absolutely useless at finding network files. Replaced it with the corporate version of FileLocator Lite

  31. wfm

    After about 3 months now with system 7, the only word that adequately expresses my feelings about “The new search feature in Windows 7 has been greatly improved” is love, love love!

    I love the fact that I cannot tell whether it is searching through the entire contents of every single file in a directory structure (that might contain dozens or hundreds of gigabytes) when what I really wanted to find was a string in a file name instead. I positively love the fact that there is no option to tell it what I want.

    I love how fast it is! I can only hope that when I am searching for a string in a filename that what the search is really doing is searching through the entire contents of every single file instead. It makes it so much faster to search through zillions of bytes for things I am not interested in at all! For example, I am now in a search for a filename that has “aran” in it. So far, the search has only been running for an hour on a super-slow i7 quad-core 940XM extreme on a SSD! Now that is fast by anybody’s standards! At this blistering speed I might be able to locate maybe 8 files in an entire day (assuming it ever finds the file I am looking for).

    And of course one must simply stand in awe of the intellect that then returns a huge listing of completely unrelated files that do not have “aran” in the filename such that as an absolute moron I will almost instantly spot the file I was looking for in the truncated list of filenames that can run into the many pages.

    I mean really yall, yield to the superior intellectual capacity that seems to have always scoffed at such banalities as boolean searches, case sensitivity and all of the other trivia which a more powerful intellect than mine might unintelligibly wish to employ.

    I feel the bliss, the righteousness of being even more stupid than I am, thanks to the greatly improved search engine in System 7.

    One can only hope and pray that System 8, or whatever svelte title it will have, will go the final step and remove search capability altogether. From here it would be but a baby step!

    “Ve vill make it dis vay, AND YOU VILL LIKE IT!”

    (if you employ the Theory of Inverse Reality you will be able to interpret the above)

  32. Jon

    I like the Win7 search, but it uses 30% memory at idle, and that is just crazy, so I shut it off. I use Everything 1.2 and it uses 0%

  33. Zak

    I don’t know about most other people..but I um..know where all my files are i don’t need some memory stealing process that I have never used…

  34. Robin Degen

    This helped me re-enable it. Thanks. I can’t imagine why i ever turned it off… nor why a search feature is randomly a seperate service.

  35. Sunil

    Not useful

  36. BRockyC

    I started writing COBOL, JCL, and DOS_E on a IBM 360-30 mainframe. I only recently migrated to XP………… the search in DOS and windows 98 is better than……… if only that old mainframe would play Bad Company or Mass-Effect.

  37. manas

    I have my Windows 7 search enabled at my Windows Icon, but when i type notepad or calculator or any other application it does not show in the search list.
    Your help is appreciated.

  38. WG

    Why on earth did they tamper with Windows XP search functionality – he may have been on the wrong side of cute, but at least I knew where I was with the little dog – it was a simple matter to search for all instances of one file and then order it on date to find the most recent example – now it takes a degree in brain surgery to get the same effect!

  39. Jonathan

    You can disable the “search for” prompt in Windows Explorer in Windows 7 by disabling autocomplete in Internet Explorer.

  40. Gym

    Coming from XP, my fingers have memorised Win Key, R, (Start | Run) and then the folder name I want to go to (or cmd, or notepad, or calc, or whatever). In Win 7 step 2 puts the ‘r’ in the search box and so messes the whole thing up. So thanks for solving this headache!

  41. Pill

    I am irritated by the listing refreshing just because I rename a file; I want the newly named file to go to the bottom so I can rename the next file without having to scroll to get back to it.

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