• Windows 10 Cortana Search box not working correctly

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    I think many Windows 10 users encountered issues with the Search box under Cortana at one time or another. I personally encountered it under different manifestations.
    The most common is when Search is not working at all.
    There are few solutions proposed elsewhere, all useful and which should be verified any time this sort of problem is encountered.

    1. Re-register Cortana with PowerShell
    Get-AppXPackage -Name Microsoft.Windows.Cortana | ForEach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register “$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml”}
    This alone will fix most issues.

    2. Reset the Control Panel Indexing Options. I will not insist for the method applied here, as rebuilding the index is supposedly known from Windows 7. Also verify the Indexing locations and reset comparing with a clean installation. There are registry keys which can be reset to trigger a “clean install” of the indexing options.
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows Search\CrawlScopeManager\Windows\SystemIndex
    You will need to take ownership and reset permissions in the registry for this to work. If you do not understand this procedure, do not do it. Leave the indexing alone and only rebuild the database.

    The new method for fixing Cortana Search which I could not find on any web site and was discovered by me following few days of research is to reset the Cortana cache per user.
    This applies when for example new Language Packs are installed or uninstalled. In Australia we use the US base OS and the UK Language Pack used with the US keyboard if we are to follow Microsoft’s new rules starting with Windows 8. It is much easier to use only the US Language Pack, but the UK Language Pack (not available before Windows 8) is pushed automatically from Windows Update if there is no additional configuration done early after the installation.
    Or even when upgrading from one version like 1607 to another like 1703.
    The behaviour is more subtle in the sense that Search works, but none of the programs is launched from the Search box. Like in searching for cmd and trying to either launch or run As Administrator by right-clicking. Some functionality is working, while launching software is not working. The reason is that the Cortana cache per-user is corrupted and a full reset of the profile would fix the problem, but this is inconvenient in most situations.

    The graceful solution without resetting the full user profile is:
    1. Open Task Manager and kill Cortana (6 times seems to be the sweet spot, after which it will not restart, or at least not immediately).
    2. Delete everything under
    without deleting the folder itself.
    You may have to stop Windows Search as well. There may be a delay or you may need to browse under certain folders and delete folders sequentially, starting from the most inner folder.
    3. Reboot

    The folders deleted which are only part of a cache should be all recreated and Cortana Search should work as expected now.

    Note: Cortana can be disabled in Group Policy (Enterprise, Education and Pro only). Search would still function and this has nothing to do with Cortana as Personal Assistant functionality, which is disabled by the Group Policy.

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    • #109908

      That’s good info, ch100, for those who actually want Cortana in their systems.

      Please allow me to propose:

      3. An alternative approach, for those who don’t care for Cortana or Bing: Freeware Classic Shell can replace the start menu and search box entirely with code which does not rely on Cortana or Windows Search at all. It can be set to NOT search the Internet and it doesn’t send what you search for to anyone abroad. Classic Shell is completely configurable, can track and adjust itself to your personal usage (without notifying anyone else), and based on responsiveness and lack of trouble is implemented better than any version of the Start menu Microsoft has ever created.

      Shown set to “Classic View”, which provides cascading, hierarchical menus reminiscent of better times…



      I don’t mean to hijack or clutter your thread on Cortana. Please feel free to remove this post if you feel it detracts from your “fix Cortana” message. I mentioned it because it’s how I choose to fix Cortana.


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      • #109915

        Noel, I don’t find a reason to remove your post, even if I am not in favour of using alternative software to fix what exactly?
        Restoring the past, because this is how it used to be in Windows 95/98/Me/2000/2003/XP/Vista/7?
        Just do not use Windows 8/8.1/10 in such a case.

        • #109919

          Why not use a newer operating system and bend it to your liking?

          Some of the underlying parts of the later OSs are actually better. Not many, I grant you, but there are capabilities in Win 8.1 and newer that don’t exist in 7 – and we both know there’s value in keeping current.

          For example, can you mount ISO files with Win 7? Run the ReFS file system on data drives? Use Storage Spaces? Boot into as nice a WinRE? Disable inherited permissions and easily turn them into explicit permissions? Easily show hidden files temporarily? Edit the system path with a nice dialog like this?


          using alternative software to fix what exactly?

          • Personally I have complex systems and like the menu hierarchy. Such organization improves usability.
          • Not getting a web search when I type calc because I want to start the local calculator application strikes me as good.
          • Not getting advertisements on the Start menu is a positive thing.
          • Keeping my computer usage private is my preference and I have no love for Bing.
          • To this day, having used Classic Shell daily since the time of Win 7 I’ve never had to fight with it to restore its functionality, such as what you’re suggesting is needed for Cortana in this thread. It’s always just worked.

          There’s nothing evil or wrong with using 3rd party software to improve the Windows desktop. There are a lot of programmers in the world better than those who work at Microsoft who – and I’m sorry to be blunt – aren’t very good any more at making the things they’re hanging on the Windows kernel solid or useful (need I remind you why you created this thread?).

          I ask in return: Why would you NOT want to use better software to make you more productive? I’m not living in the past, I’m getting the most out of the parts of the operating system that I need.


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        • #109949

          First, welcome back ch100, I am glad you post again.

          I am like you, not in favor of third-party programs in general, especially those too close to the OS, for various reasons, but Noel seems to make it work great for him.

          I resisted using any third-party with Window 8.1 even though I hated the full screen distraction of a Start Menu, just because I found it immensely distracting to loose my desktop windows view each time I press the Start key.

          However, when I found the stupid bug that I don’t think any of your Cortana fix fixes in Cortana, that was too much. I installed Classic Shell and I am loving it because it does exactly what I needed. I am worried to get issues with users during features upgrades so I don’t install it to them if they are not search addicts like me, but I don’t see an alternative for me using only stock Windows.

          The bug is if you move special folders to a second partition, Cortana will never show the results for those in its all results first page. You will always have to click the Documents filter to see those results. This bug is present in AU. Didn’t check on CU. For someone who do probably hundreds of searches a day, it is incredibly annoying and puzzling to see that although people might have told Microsoft through the feedback many times, it is still not fixed. Talking about MS not finishing the job well before creating the next new thing, here’s an example.

          I should not do the supported move of the special folders maybe? There’s a reason I want to move them and I used the supported way. Plus, I verify the indexing. I’ve had the same issues on all computers.

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          • #109965

            We discussed that bug previously.
            Until you told me about it, I was not even aware that search was supposed to work in that way.
            I also change the location of the user folders to another partition.

            • #110063

              I know we discussed it, I was just answering your question to Noel as to why use a third-party tool “to fix what exactly” and to maybe let others who don’t follow our conversations that this annoying bug exists in case they encounter it and avoid them loosing time trying to get a fix that doesn’t seem to exist without the third-party tool. For me who don’t like to use third-party tool, this was a good enough reason.

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            • #110065

              If it is so, then using a reliable third-party utility which resolves/enhances built-in functionality has a justification.
              I would have a hard time selling a business case for such a utility to be used anywhere beyond a small business. Same would apply to one of my favourite tools, Windows Update MiniTool, very suitable for home or testing and troubleshooting even in the largest enterprises, but not for regular use.
              How would Classic Shell work with Roaming Profiles for example? There are more than enough issues with Microsoft’s own product in relation to Roaming Profiles starting with Windows 8.
              If anyone has any experience, good or bad, with Classic Shell and Roaming Profiles, please post here or in a separate thread. I am more than interested to read about it.

    • #109936

      I don’t really understand why you find that Web Search is a big issue with Cortana Search.
      I assume that you use at least Windows 10 Pro which has the Group Policy to disable Cortana, which will have as side effect disabling the Web (Bing) Search. Or it does not work in that way in Win 10 Pro like in Enterprise?

      For example, can you mount ISO files with Win 7? Run the ReFS file system on data drives? Use Storage Spaces? Boot into as nice a WinRE? Disable inherited permissions and easily turn them into explicit permissions? Easily show hidden files temporarily? Edit the system path with a nice dialog like this?

      Thanks for the quoted information. I was not aware of some of those newer features like disabling inherited permissions and turning them into explicit permissions. How does this actually differ from what was already available in Windows 7? I might have to do some reading and experimenting, as this looks like an interesting feature.
      What about booting into WinRE? Is this about the Recovery Environment which needs to be configured correctly in fact to come up as an option? If this is what was meant, then it is handy when an original image is available and in case of failure to boot.
      For mounting ISOs and more, I currently use a commercial software named Virtual CD.
      It has a very useful feature of being able to virtually “burn” audio images and even “burn” them already extracted as audio (wav) files in the so-called sound mode.

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      • #109952

        I have a problem with a company that removes a nice working feature to force using an inferior one because the inferior one is not getting enough love from users. This just makes me want to not use the feature at all to teach the company a lesson.

        If Cortana did web searches with my ability to opt-out of tracking what I type, plus the now removed ability to launch the results in my browser of choice, I might have used it. I don’t want to have anything to do with Bing. I don’t like Bing. And I don’t want Microsoft to tell me I can’t use the search engine that is best no more because they haven’t successfully convinced me that I should use their.

        I have no problem with them trying to convince me Edge is better using features highlights when they are true, but telling me I can’t do what is best for my productivity because they don’t like to not be chosen by me as the best solution, I have a problem with that.

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      • #109996

        It’s doable in Win 7, just more obvious/easier to get through on a newer system…



        Sometimes it’s the little things that make life easier. 🙂

        Oh, and I forgot to mention: They brought Previous Versions back on Win 10. That’s something that was lost in Win 8.


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    • #110066

      This just makes me want to not use the feature at all to teach the company a lesson.

      Just check Microsoft share prices to find out if they learnt anything from such a lesson 🙂

      • #110094

        I alone can’t teach any lesson, nor the minority of power users. However, MS did backed off the full screen 8 start menu because people still didn’t buy it after 8.1 update 1. It just takes them a very long time to understand and lots of pressure. It is funny because I found it a mild annoyance, but certsinly not a deal breaker. There are things that are much worse in 10 than any start menu, I think.

        I also think shares value is not a good predictor of long term future value. A lot of it can be due to imperfect information and expectations that might not materialize.

        I do think the users have power, but I also think the majority of users aren’t that interested in computers to actively try to influence development by their behavior. Still, although I will be a pragmatist in the day to day and I will consider things won’t change, I will still try to encourage people to act in an idealist way because I believe you should do what you feel is right even when you have the impression it doesn’t make a difference. And right now, I like Windows 10 in many ways and I will use it, but I am not going to use anything like Edge, Cortana or the store.

    • #110067

      Oh, and I forgot to mention: They brought Previous Versions back on Win 10. That’s something that was lost in Win 8.


      That’s excellent. I think for this to work, File History needs to be enabled. Or maybe System Restore, but I don’t use it and I believe that there is a reason why it is disabled by default in Windows 10. There may be bugs there which are not documented and maybe not intended to be fixed before the tool/feature is discontinued officially.

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      • #110072

        System Restore still seems to work okay in Win 10, as does making system image backups (which also show up as restore points and thus provide a source for Previous Versions.


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