What is SearchIndexer.exe and Why Is It Running?

By Lowell Heddings on September 10th, 2010

You’re no doubt reading this article because you’re wondering what that SearchIndexer.exe process is all about, and why it’s chewing up a lot of RAM or CPU. Here’s the explanation you’re looking for, and how to deal with it.

So What Is This Process?

SearchIndexer.exe is the Windows service that handles indexing of your files for Windows Search, which fuels the file search engine built into Windows that powers everything from the Start Menu search box to Windows Explorer, and even the Libraries feature.

You can see this for yourself by simply right-clicking on the process name in the Task Manager list, and then choosing Go to Service(s) from the menu.

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This will take you to the Services tab, where you can clearly see the Windows Search item selected in the list.

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If you take a look at the file properties, you can clearly see that this particular executable is the Indexer component for Windows Search—though the name probably gave that away already.

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How Do You Stop This Process?

If you want to stop the service from running, you can open up Services through Control Panel, or type in services.msc into the Start Menu search box. Once you’re there, you can find Windows Search in the list and click the Stop button.

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We wouldn’t recommend disabling the service—you can simply uninstall it if you don’t want it.

How Do You Uninstall This Service?

We’re not recommending that you uninstall the Windows Search service, since it powers so much of the behind the scenes stuff in Windows 7, but if you want to remove it you can type windows features into the Control Panel search to pull up the Turn Windows features on or off screen. In here you can simply uncheck Windows Search and click the OK button. You’ll probably have to reboot your PC once that’s done.

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How Can I Make SearchIndexer Use Less RAM or CPU?

Your best option is to cut down on the amount of data that you’re indexing—there’s usually no reason to index every single file on your drive. You’ll need to open up the Indexing Options through the Control Panel or Start Menu search box to make the changes.

The first thing you should notice is the Pause button on this window, which can pause indexing for up to 15 minutes—useful if you’re trying to do something and Windows Search happens to be in overdrive mode, though it really shouldn’t since it only runs while your PC is idle.

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You’ll want to click the Modify button and then trim down the list of locations to just the ones you really need indexed—this can seriously improve the performance of your Start Menu search box as well.

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Advanced Tip: Make Windows Search Index Only Filenames

If you click the Advanced button on the Indexing Options dialog, you’ll be able to access another set of settings—what we’re looking for here is the File Types tab on this dialog. Once you’re there, scroll down to some common formats like doc, docx, and other files, and you’ll see that they are configured to search the file contents by default.

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If you don’t actually search within the files and only care about the file names, you can trim down the index by changing this setting to Index Properties Only.

Conclusion: This Process Shouldn’t Be Removed

You really shouldn’t remove this process, but hopefully the lessons in this article will help you trim it down to size, and remember that you can always temporarily stop the service if you feel like it.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 09/10/10
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