Outlook Search broken since last Update, Fix available?

[German]Since May 5, 2020, some users of Microsoft Outlook have been suffering from the fact that the search does not work. A connection with the Office updates is suspected. Actually Microsoft should have rolled out a fix since 13 May 2020.


Reports about broken Outlook search

I noticed that, because there was a discussion under my German blog post Microsoft Office Patchday (5. Mai 2020). German blog reader Stephan asks in this comment:

Does anyone of you have problems with searching in Outlook? We get the message "Something didn't work and your search couldn't be completed".

German blog reader Marc confirmed this error and added some additional hints, and also a temporary workaround. He wrote:

Since the update I can confirm the problems. All computers in the company network report this error. In use are Office 2016 and Office 2019, both in the click-and-run versions and both 32-bit and 64-bit.

The troubleshooter also detects an "Incorrect permissions for Windows Search directories" error. If you change the permissions and grant more rights (even with EVERYONE is allowed EVERYTHING) it does not work.

He states that all problem solutions he has researched have not been successful so far, but suggests a workaround: If the Exchange cache mode is switched off, the search works again! This is described in this Microsoft support article

Broken Outlook-Search(Source: reddit.com)

At reddit.com you can find this thread about the issue. It reports the same problem, and says that Office 2016/2019 is affected, but not Office 2010 and 2013 with Outlook. I've also seen voices reporting the problem on Office 365. It's affecting click-to-run installations that update directly from Office. 


Fix announced for May 13, 2020

On reddit.com this thread contains a note from a user quoting a service advisory from Microsoft.

EX212460 – Many users will see searches failing in the Outlook desktop client

Title: Many users will see searches failing in the Outlook desktop client

User Impact: Users may experience search failures in the Outlook desktop client.

More info: Users' searches will default to a local search, they will be unable to search the Exchange Online service. This issue is only affecting on-premises users using non-Modern authentication. Users who have access to Outlook on the web may be able to use that protocol as an alternative method to search the service.

Current status: We've completed developing the fix and it's undergoing internal validation, which is expected to be completed on Wednesday, May 13, 2020. Once complete, we'll initiate deployment to all impacted environments.

Scope of impact: This issue may potentially affect any of your users attempting to search in their Outlook desktop clients. Root cause: An issue in the authentication process is misrouting search requests, causing some requests to fail.

Next update by: Thursday, May 14, 2020, at 1:00 AM UTC

It appears to affect OnPremise users with Outlook on the desktop, but only when Exchange Online is included as a service. Then the search on Exchange Online does not work. Bleeping Computer has addressed this also within this article.

Workaround  for Outlook search

Currently, deactivating the server-based search seems to help as a workaround (then the local search works again). German blog-reader Kannix provided a hint in this comment – he says disabling server assisted search shall fix the issue. The Techcommunity post here provides the relevant registry entries (DisableServerAssistedSearch) and Bleeping Computer probably described tha in this post too.

Update didn't solve the problem?

Meanwhile, Sansor's comment states that his Outlook has updated to version 2004 12730.20270, but the problem is still there. How does this look like for you? Was there an update that fixed the search problem in Outlook?

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13 Responses to Outlook Search broken since last Update, Fix available?

  1. Rachel says:

    Lolllll that's my reddit post. I feel famous. xD

    I'm waiting for an update and still searching around. MS has not rolled out this fix yet to my knowledge.

  2. Rick says:

    Thank you for this post.
    I was going bonkers because many customers came up with this problem in the past few days.

  3. Rachel says:


    Status: We've confirmed that the deployment is now complete. In order to resolve the issue, users must restart Outlook desktop client twice to have their search features return to normal functionality. We're going to continue monitoring service health for 24 hours to ensure no further issues occur.
    Next update by: Friday, May 22, 2020, at 1:00 AMUTC; PublishedTime=2020-05-20T23:28:30.757

    • Ilan Eliyahu says:

      I don't get it. Where is the fix? what is the fix?
      I still can't search on Outlook. I downloaded the recent update (16.0.12730.20352) and still not working.

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  5. Todd says:

    Still broken in my environment. I downloaded the update and restarted with no success.

  6. Kate says:

    I'm not convinced this issue is caused by an Outlook update. Most of my clients only started reporting the error after their in house Exchange Servers (2016) were upgraded to CU16. Anyone else with inhouse Exchange having the issue and if so are you on CU16?

    • guenni says:

      Thx for your suspicion. I will ask it within my German blog – there I have more feedback from users, where one says 'it works now', while many others say 'the update didn't fix it'.

      • Gary A Pasler says:

        My take at it, from a personal 2-PC (both W10/64 Pro w/O 2016 Prof. Plus), is that the last WINDOWS UPDATE cycle did it – SEARCH died after that; then Office took an update (I was hopeful, with no change).
        KB4556799 & KB4552931

        I suspect the first, May Cumulative Update for 1909 x64 !

    • CJack says:

      It is an Office update. We have seen the same for clients on Outlook 2016 & 2019 using on-premise Exchange 2013 & 2016 and hosted Exchange 2013 and 2016.

      Microsoft have confirmed the problem and say they have released an update and the problem has been fixed. It hasn't. We are seeing mixed results – some report the update has fixed the problem and others saying not.

  7. Rachel says:

    So far, the rollout from MS has only fixed the issue for my user on Office 2019. Has not worked for my user on 2016.

  8. Jason Nottage says:

    Well I for one can't help but feel this is likely just another way of Microsoft pushing those of us still with on Prem out to O365 with exchange online. If Microsoft wanted to fix these search issues they would have been long resolved by now if they gave a stuff. I would even go as far as to say the issue is not by mistake but more by design. Shame on you Microsoft.

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