12 Methods to Fix Cortana Search Not Working in Windows 10

Till April 2019, Cortana and Search were tied together in Windows 10. But according to Microsoft’s Windows Insider chief, Dona Sarkar, it may separate both of them as individual processes.

This is a major help to Windows 10 community. In the earlier builds of Windows 10 from 2015 to 2018, Cortana and Search were tied up. So if the search functionality was not working, the major culprit would be Cortana.

Since these two were integrated together, errors and solutions depended on Cortana working properly. In the 1903 version, this may less likely to impact your search.

In this way, each will have their development cycle of their own and serve their intended target audience. Cortana will cater to the voice search users and normal “Windows Search” for text-search audience.

But if you are using an older version of Windows 10, then try these solutions if you have problems of Windows 10 Cortana search not working or freezing.

Check your Microphone

In 2016, users faced issues with Windows 10 and their mic. There was a decrease in mic gain to be set to zero. To resolve this error, check your mic’s drivers for Windows 10. In most cases, legacy mics would not have the latest drivers.

In that case, just install the existing Microsoft or generic drivers. You can find your voice-hearing device in the “Device Manager” section. You either manually download the mic drivers from the manufacturer page or use the “Search automatically for updated driver software” option.

Sometimes, the recording volume is set to very low value. So if you speak anything into the mic, you cannot hear it. If others can’t hear it, so does Cortana. For this, just increase the mic volume level in the “Recording” tab of “Sound” properties found in Control Panel.

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Check for Updates

If you are still using the Windows 10 1511, 1607, 1703 versions then you need to update to the latest version of 1809. If you think the October upgrade (1809) is causing problems, you could still upgrade to 1803 version.

You can either use “Windows Settings” or Control Panel to update your computer. This will automatically update to the latest version of Windows 10 and other software components.

Unplug and Replug your Microphone

If you have any software/hardware problems with your mic, this fix should work. Sometimes, other programs might have reduced your mic recording volume. As a result, Cortana is not able to hear you.

Sometimes Windows 10 Start Menu search will not also work. The problem can be related to “search” service and Cortana.

For this case, you can unplug your mic from the socket (whether it is USB or PS/2). Then connect it again. See if this fixes the problem after a restart.

Restart Cortana Process

The best method to solve this problem is to end the Cortana task. To do this follow this steps.

1. Press Ctrl + Alt + Del to open Task Manager.
2. Under “Processes“, find the “Cortana” process.
3. Right-click on it and click on “End task“.
4. This will restart the “Cortana” process.

It should solve the search not working problem, if Cortana process or files are corrupted.

Check Windows Search Service

Another fix is to find the “Search” service in Windows 10 and restart it. The following steps will help.

1. Press Win + R and type “services.msc“.
2. At the bottom of the window, select “Standard“.
3. Find the “Windows Search” service and right-click to view “Properties“.
4. You can also use other options like “Start“, “Stop“, “Restart” as a preliminary fix.
5. If it’s not already started, click the “Start” button.
6. Also set the “Startup type” to “Automatic“.

If this service is not starting, then check its dependent services. You need to start them first to make this work.

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If this is running smoothly, you need to check other solutions.

Restart Windows Explorer

Since may of the processes in Windows 10 are linked to “Windows Explorer”, you can try restarting it.

The same steps as mentioned earlier can be used to start Task Manager. Right-click the “Windows Explorer” service and click on “Restart”. This should clear any dependency problems.

Using Windows Troubleshooter

The traditional Control Panel still works in Windows 10. Otherwise, you press the Win + I key to invoke Windows Settings interface.

Using any of them, you can find the “Search and Indexing” troubleshooter. Running it should solve the problem, if its traditional error due to search processes, instead of Cortana.

But this may take some time, as it needs to correct any corrupted search process files.

Run the DISM tool

You can also check the system health and restore to normal, using the following commands. Open “Command Prompt” in administrator mode. Then type the following commands.

DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Scanhealth
DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth

This may take 15 to 30 minutes, based on your PC configuration and error files.

Boot up in Safe Mode

In 2015 cases, when Windows 10 was new, some users faced an issue which threw up error like this.

“Critical Error – Cortana isn’t working. We’ll try to fix it the next time you sign in.”


“Critical Error – Start menu and Cortana aren’t working. We’ll try to fix it the next time you sign in.”


“Critical Error – Your Start menu isn’t working. We’ll try to fix it the next time you sign in.”

This could cause both Cortana Search and Start Menu not functioning together. In that case, you can start your PC in safe mode and then exit. You can then start in normal mode, which may automatically fix this error.

You can use the Troubleshooter mentioned above.

Uninstall 3rd party AntiVirus and Reinstall it

Since Windows 8.1, Microsoft has an inbuilt antivirus called “Windows Defender”. Now its known as “Microsoft Defender” in Windows 10 1809 version. This works well for many of the normal security threats including Ransomware protection.

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But if you are afraid of phishing and malware attacks, you may try 3rd party AV tools like Avast. But its “Shield” feature may be causing problem sometimes. You can then disable it (while disconnected to the Internet) and check if Cortana search is working properly or not. If it is, then the culprit is your AV.

This seems to happen in the earlier releases of Windows 10.

Create a new Local Administrator account

Sometimes the existing user account itself might get corrupted. In that case, create a new Local Administrator account and delete the existing Administrator account.

Otherwise, you can check with a new Guest account also. If it works in that account, but not in your current account, then your user account has some issues. So either switch to a new account or clean your current account for any adware, bloatware, virus etc.

You can also reenter your Microsoft account password once again. Otherwise, you can sign-in and out to make Cortana search work again.

Register Cortana again

As you know many of the components of Windows work like processes or services. You can de-register many of them and re-register them again to see if there is any problem in the inherent integration of that component with Windows 10.

You can apply the same login to Cortana. As we have seen earlier, we could end the Cortana process and it will restart automatically. But this fix will not work sometimes.

Then open the Powershell in Administrator mode. Then enter the following command.

Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register “$($_.InstallLocation)AppXManifest.xml”}

Hit the enter key to execute the command.

Restart your system and check if the Cortana search issue is fixed.

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