FIX: Outlook for MAC Search Not Working and Displays No Results Outlook 2011, 2016, 2019, 2021 (Solved)

UPDATE 2024-04: if search is broken after MIGRATION: re-install Outlook AND re-index Spotlight:

Open Finder and go to Applications – Utilities – Terminal and type the following commands (Press Enter after typing each command).
sudo mdutil -a -i off
sudo mdutil -a -i on

UPDATE 2022-03:

The Outlook for MAC search “No Results” problem, can appear after updating MAC OS or Office for MAC from one release to another or can appear suddenly without an obvious reason. In such cases the Outlook Search function in Outlook 2011 for MAC or in Outlook 2016 for MAC does not work and returns “No Results” when you try to find something in Outlook mail program that you know it exists. Despite the Outlook search problem, SPOTLIGHT is working correctly and displays results.

Outlook for MAC Search Not Working "No Results"

Beste Lösung (Achtung: kann lange dauern)
  1. Gehe zum Ordner:
    ~/Library/Group Containers/UBF8T346G9.Office/Outlook/Outlook 15 Profiles/Main Profile/Data
  2. Lege folgende Datei auf den Schreibtisch:
  3. Starte das Programm Outlook und warten, bis alles repariert wurde

This tutorial contains instructions to resolve the Outlook for MAC Search problems (Search returns “No Results”), in Outlook for Mac 2016 or Outlook for Mac 2011.

How to fix: Outlook MAC Search Returns “No Results” in Outlook 2011 or 2016 for MAC *

* Suggestion for Outlook 2016 users: We’ve identified that the most common root for this problem is the need to re-index Outlook’s Search Database, so we recommend to try first to see if it solves the problem.

Method 1. Verify that the Outlook Profile/Identity is stored at the default location.

First of all, make sure that the Outlook 2016 for Mac Profile or the Outlook for Mac 2011 Identity data is stored under the correct default location and has no special characters on its name. If the Profile or Identity name contains a special character, then follow the steps in this Microsoft Article to change the name:

  • Outlook 2016 for Mac default Profile Location:
    • ~/Library/Group Containers/UBF8T346G9.Office/Outlook/Outlook 15 Profiles/Main Profile
  • Outlook for Mac 2011 default Identity location:
    • /Users/username/Documents/Microsoft User Data/Office 2011 Identities/Main Identity
Method 2. Install all Microsoft Updates.

1. Open any Office application such as Word, Excel, or Outlook.
2. On the top menu, go to Help > Check for Updates. *

* Important: If you don’t see the ‘Check for Updates’ option on the Help menu, then download and run the latest version of the Microsoft Auto-Update tool from (After running the tool, the “Check for Updates” option will be available).

Method 3. Run the Outlook 2016 Search Troubleshooter.

The next method to fix the “No Results” search issue in Outlook 2016 for MAC, is to run the Microsoft Outlook Search Troubleshooter.

1. Close Outlook 2016 for MAC.
2. Run the Outlook 2016 Search Repair Troubleshooter (source-2) tool from MS:

Method 4. Move Messages to another Outlook folder.

1. Open Outlook.
2. Create a new folder inside Outlook (e.g. Inbox-New)
3. Select and move all messages to the new created folder.
4. When the moving is done, move back your messages to the original folder. (This process will force Outlook to re-index the emails and they start to appear in the results).
5. Once you done delete the temporary folder.

Method 5.  Re-Index Hard Drive in Spotlight.

1. Open the System Preferences and click on Spotlight.
2. Make sure that Mail Messages is checked under the Search Results tab
3. Then click the Privacy tab.
4. Make Sure that the Outlook Profile (or Identity) folder or one of its parent folders is not added to the Privacy tab. (If so, then remove them, skip the rest steps and try to find something using the Outlook search).
5. Then Drag and drop the hard drive icon from the desktop into Spotlight. (This will remove the current index)
6. Finally highlight the hard drive you just added and click the minus button to remove it.  (This will force Spotlight to create a new index)
7. Wait until Spotlight indexing your drive.
8. After indexing restart your computer.
9. Try to use the Outlook search.
10. If the problem persists:

a. Delete (or move to desktop and delete them later) the following files from the User’s Library/Preferences folder:


b. Then delete (or move to desktop) from the User’s Library/Preferences/Microsoft/Office 2011 folder, the file OfficeSync Prefs

c. Restart your MAC.
d. Try to perform a search in Outlook.

Method 6. Re-index the Outlook for MAC Search Database.

Outlook for Mac uses OS X Spotlight to search your mailbox. If the Spotlight Index is corrupted then the Outlook search may display “No results”. At this case you have to re-indexing the Outlook 2016 for Mac search database. To do that:

  • Outlook 2016 for MAC:
    – To re-index the Search database in Outlook for Mac 2016

1. Restart Mac.
2. Go to Finder > Applications > Utilities > Terminal.
3. Type “mdimport -L“.

  • IMPORTANT: If you see more than one instance of “Microsoft Outlook Spotlight Importer.mdimporter” delete the Outlook application that you are NOT using, empty it from the Trash, again restart your Mac, and go back to Step 1.

4. Without closing the ‘terminal’ window, open Outlook and try the search function. If you receive results when searching then the problem is resolved. If the Outlook search displays again “No results” then continue below:

5. In Terminal, re-index your Outlook database using the following command and substituting your own user name for <user_name>:

mdimport -g “/Applications/Microsoft Outlook Spotlight Importer.mdimporter” -d1 /Users/<user_name>/Library/Group\ Containers/UBF8T346G9.Office/Outlook/Outlook\ 15\ Profiles/Main\ Profile

  • Note in the command above, the path after “-g” is the default path where your Outlook is installed. The path after “-d1” is the default path to your profile. You’ll have to substitute your actual paths if you have renamed your profile or installed Outlook in a different location.

6. Re-indexing will take some time to complete. Once the process is complete, quit and re-launch Outlook. *

* TIP: Here is an alternative method to re-build the Outlook 2016 Database in MAC:

1.  Go to the following location:

  • ~/Library/Group Containers/UBF8T346G9.Office/Outlook/Outlook 15 Profiles/Main Profile/Data

2. Move the Outlook.sqllite file to your desktop. (This will force Outlook to detect an issue and to do an auto rebuild).
3. When the Rebuild is completed, open Outlook and perform a search.
4. If the search is working then delete the ‘Outlook.sqllite’ file from your desktop.

  • Outlook for Mac 2011:
    – To re-index the Search database in Outlook for Mac 2011

1. Hold down the Option key, and then click the Outlook for Mac 2011 icon(or go to Applications > Microsoft Office 2011 > Office Microsoft Database Utility).
2. Highlight your Identity Click Rebuild.

Method 7. FIX Spotlight Permissions & Rebuild Spotlight Index using Terminal.

The final method to resolve the “No Results” issue when performing a search in Outlook 2011 or 2016 for Mac, is to fix the Spotlight permissions in Outlook 2011 database and then to rebuild the Spotlight database, by following the steps below:

  • Outlook for Mac 2016

1. Open Terminal from Applications > Utilities.
2. Give the following commands in order (Press Enter after typing each command)

  • sudo mdutil -i off /
  • sudo rm -rf /.Spotlight*
  • sudo rm -rf /.metadata_never_index

3. Reboot your computer.
4. After restart, open Terminal again and type these commands in order:

  • sudo mdutil -i on /
  • sudo mdutil -E

3. Now wait until Spotlight reindex your entire drive. You can monitor the process if you click at Spotlight Search icon at the upper-right corner. When the indexing is completed (100%) then proceed and try the Outlook search.

  • Outlook for Mac 2011.

1. Open Terminal from Applications > Utilities.
2. Give the following commands in order (Press Enter after typing each command)

  • sudo chown root:wheel “/Applications/Microsoft Office 2011”
  • sudo chmod 755 “/Applications/Microsoft Office 2011”
  • sudo mdutil -a -i off
  • sudo rm -rf /.Spotlight-V100
  • sudo mdutil -a -i on

3. Now wait until Spotlight reindex your entire drive. You can monitor the process if you click at Spotlight Search icon at the upper-right corner. When the indexing is completed (100%) then proceed and try the Outlook search.

Method 8. Completely Remove and Reinstall Office for MAC.

1. Backup Outlook Data (copy Outlook Identity or Profile to another location. e.g. your Desktop).

2.  Completely uninstall Office 2011 MAC or Uninstall Office 2016 for MAC. 

3. Re-install Office for MAC.

4. Open Outlook for MAC and use the Import command to import the Outlook data from the backup location.

5. Follow the steps is method-6 above to reindex the Outlook search database.

6. Try the Outlook search function.

Did it work for you?
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