I know what you are thinking when you read the title of this article… why on earth would you want to disable Instant Search? It’s one of the best new features in Outlook 2007! I agree, but if you are having problems with it you might be curious how to effectively disable it.

I personally found this very useful when the Instant Search just completely broke. It returned nothing at all, and I needed to find a message quickly… so I just disabled the index temporarily.

Note: I’m not recommending that you just go and try this. Only use this as a troubleshooting technique, and only if you backup first.

Disable Instant Search

Click the tiny drop-down arrow next to the Instant Search box, and then choose Search Options from the menu.

You’ll see a list of your data files or .pst files here, and you’ll want to remove the checks next to each one.


When you close the dialog you’ll get an extremely wide message telling you that you will need to exit and re-open Outlook.

Now when you restart Outlook, the search will work just like the old versions of Outlook did. That’s right, it will be painfully slow.

To reverse these changes you can simply complete the same steps, but make sure to check the boxes. Note that when you re-enable Windows will rebuild the search index again, so it won’t be available for a while.

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Lowell is the founder and CEO of How-To Geek. He’s been running the show since creating the site back in 2006. Over the last decade, Lowell has personally written more than 1000 articles which have been viewed by over 250 million people. Prior to starting How-To Geek, Lowell spent 15 years working in IT doing consulting, cybersecurity, database management, and programming work.
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