How to Fix: Open Shell Search Not Working (Classic Shell)

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Infopackets Reader Lynda F. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I've been using Classic Shell (now called 'Open Shell') for many years and it's worked great. The best feature about Classic Shell is the ability to search and find files on my hard drive. For example: when I click on the Start Menu, I then type in part of the title of a document I have on my hard drive, and Classic Shell finds it instantly. In contrast, the default Windows 10 Start Menu simply can't find anything on my computer and tells me to go to Bing to find it. As if! Anyhow: the issue I'm having is that the search in Classic Shell seems to have stopped working and my documents and other items are not showing up in the search results. I've looked over my settings and they seem to be set properly. Any ideas? "

My response:

I asked Lynda if she would like me to look at this issue using my remote desktop support service, and she agreed.

Below I will discuss my findings.

How to Fix: Open Shell Search Not Working (Classic Shell)

After some research I believe that the problem has to do with either a corrupt Windows search index (which both Classic Shell and Open Shell use in addition to File Explorer), or the problem may be due to improperly set Classic Shell / Open Shell search settings.

For brevity, I'll refer to both Classic Shell and Open Shell as "Open Shell," since Classic Shell is no longer maintained by the original author.

To ensure that the Open Shell search settings are set for the "maximum," do the following:

  1. Right click on the Start Menu, then select "Settings" from the dialogue menu.
  2. The "Settings for Open Shell" menu will appear. At the very top, ensure that the "Show all settings" box has a check mark.
  3. Click the "Search box" tab and ensure that everything has a check mark or radio dot next to it except for: "No search box" and "Access with Tab". Both of these options are near the very top.

Now it's time to set parameters in the Windows Index and then rebuild it.

To do so:

  1. Highlight the text below using your mouse:

    rundll32.exe shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL srchadmin.dll
  2. Right click over the highlighted text and select "Copy". Next, click Start, then press CTRL-V into the Open Shell search box, then press Enter on the keyboard. If you did it properly, the "Indexing Options" window should appear. If nothing appears or you get the wrong page, start again at Step #1 above.
  3. On the "Indexing Options" window, click the "Modify" button. The "Indexed Locations" window will appear; click the button "Show all locations". Next, ensure that all hard drives on the system are selected, then click "OK".
  4. The "Indexing Options" main window should be displayed again. Click the "Advanced" button near the bottom; the "Advanced Options" window will appear. Ensure that every file type in the list has a check mark beside it, then click "OK". If you want parts of files indexed, ensure that "Index Properties and File Contents" is ticked before clicking "OK".
  5. You should be back at the "Indexing Options" window again. Click the "Advanced" button again. Under the "Troubleshooting" section, click the "Rebuild" button to rebuild your search index. This will take some time to complete.
  6. When the indexing is finished, try using Open Shell to find something located in your Documents folder (for example). It should find your files without any issues.

I hope that helps.

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About the author: Dennis Faas

Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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