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Outlook 2016 now uses the Exchange Search Index in priority RRS feed

  • General discussion

  • As many users may have noticed, we’ve improved the reliability and performance of Outlook search by integrating the server-side search engine in Exchange 2016 and Office 365 (Exchange Online) and leveraging this search as the default Outlook search index.

    In Outlook 2013 when we search, we need to use the “Click here to view more on Microsoft Exchange” option to find more emails on the server, that’s because it searches using the local Windows Search Index and we may not have all emails cached in local and indexed. Now in Outlook 2016, search just works like a user would expect it to, without any additional configuration steps by users or admins in either Outlook 2016 or Exchange 2016. By default, Outlook 2016 will search the entire mailbox and return search results beyond what has been synced down in the local OST file.

    For example, in Outlook 2016, even if you have the Sync Filter configured to sync emails of the recent 3 months as below, emails which are older than 3 months will be displayed directly in the search result, while you may need to click on “More” to show more results in Outlook 2013.

    This change makes it more comfortable to use for users. As I said above, now Outlook directly provides all search results no matter how many emails you cache in local.

    In addition, Windows Search Index often becomes corrupted and we have to rebuild it, while Exchange Search Index is relatively more stable.

    Then there are some questions we will concern:

    • Can I use the local Windows Search Index?

    Yes, if the Exchange server isn’t available or when working offline, Outlook will automatically fall back to the Windows Search Index to display the Search results.

    • If the connection to Exchange is available, can I use choose the local Windows Search Index in priority?

    Yes, there is a registry key setting which controls this:

    Key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Outlook\Search

    Or

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Outlook\Search

    Value name: DisableServerAssistedSearch

    Value type: REG_DWORD

    Value: 1

    Important: Serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly. Before you modify it, back up the registry for restoration in case problems occur.

    One common reason that people want to use the Windows Search Index, is that some features, like the Category and Flag, are only available when using Windows Index. By default, with the Exchange Search Index, these features are unavailable, some users are not used to it so switching to Windows Search Index is an option.


    Please click to vote if the post helps you. This can be beneficial to other community members reading the thread.

    Tuesday, May 24, 2016 12:29 PM

All replies

  • If you set DisableServerAssistedSearch=1 you probably also want to set DisableServerAssistedSuggestions=1.  See the April 27, 2017 post "How Outlook 2016 utilizes Exchange Server 2016 FAST Search" on the Outlook Global Technical Support Team Blog (https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/outlooking/2017/04/27/how-outlook-2016-utilizes-exchange-server-2016-fast-search/)
    Tuesday, September 26, 2017 4:45 PM
  • Just a note on some specifics of why DisableServerAssistedSearch.

    FAST search is currently limited to 1025 results which is useless for most folks. So if you search using the desktop Outlook client you are affected by this limit. DisableServerAssistedSearch solves the problem and gets you all results, local search a bit slower (because you get more results) and taxes your computer more but its accurate.

    Thursday, June 14, 2018 2:16 AM
  • I have to say I prefer the Outlook 2013 method of searching better as it is more accurate.  I'll have to mess around with these settings to see if I can replicate the 2013 search.  Here specifically is the issue I encounter A LOT!!!

    I receive a number of messages from "client Q" regarding a subject.  We go back and forth, and might even change the actual subject of what we're talking about.  I also file most client emails into a client folder (in Outlook) for later review if need be.  

    In 2013, after a number of emails have gone back and forth, I would search (current folder only) for "client Q" and I'd get all of their messages in the return list.  I could then reply to ones I've missed, delete whatever, mark some as read, and then select and MOVE to the appropriate folder.  On some I might CC myself on the reply to add to the client folder.  I could do all of this from the "search" results screen in the past.  Emails I'd cc myself on, would appear in the results list, meaning I didn't have to close search to get the updated items.  If the client emailed me during my time looking at search results, their emails would also show up (still matching my search term).  

    In 2016 this does not happen.  When you search, you get results.  I could delete everything in those results, and perform the search again, and get the same results.  It's VERY slow to update it's cache.  Understanding that it's really searching O365 and not my inbox, this makes sense.  What's more annoying though is that my results do not update "on the fly" so to get an updated result, I literally have to leave search, then go back.  And once again, I'll have things I've already deleted or filed, as well as new stuff...  Not good.

    I've just today encountered the 1025 limit while trying to clean out my deleted items of stuff I know I don't need (alert notifications).  Typing in "from:alerts@domain.com" works, and if you hit shift and page down, you'll get to 1025.  I can then delete, but I don't get a "new" 1025 unless I do the search AGAIN...  This is awful design and should be scrapped.  I really think most people (including everyone at MS) must not really use Outlook for what it was once intended because this is stupid.

    Thursday, August 9, 2018 3:32 PM
  • OST files are single email format and PST is mailbox format, so to transfer multiple OST files to PST format you require to combine OST files as PST format and to know the converter steps of OST to PST read this: https://www.gaintools.com/ost/pst/
    Friday, November 30, 2018 3:47 AM
  • I reduce the cache mode from all to 3 months and after restarting Outlook this issue fixed.
    Tuesday, January 8, 2019 8:58 PM
  • I agree 100% - Outlook 2016 search is complete crap compared to Outlook 2013 or earlier.  My previous company upgraded to 2016 and I hated it.  When I joined my current company, I had 2013 and was so relieved, but have now been updated and hating it again.

    Why would MS break something that was not broken?  One of the best features used to be the search capabilities.  

    Very disappointed MS.

    And now, something has been broken on the server side, and all my search results appear unread (even though they are read) and the From is blank.  Nice xmas present - search is even more useless than before.

    Thursday, January 10, 2019 12:18 AM
  • I agree 100% - Outlook 2016 search is complete crap compared to Outlook 2013 or earlier.  My previous company upgraded to 2016 and I hated it.  When I joined my current company, I had 2013 and was so relieved, but have now been updated and hating it again.

    Why would MS break something that was not broken?  One of the best features used to be the search capabilities.  

    Very disappointed MS.

    And now, something has been broken on the server side, and all my search results appear unread (even though they are read) and the From is blank.  Nice xmas present - search is even more useless than before.

    This is a new and alarming issue for us as well. We urgently need a solution. I am not an expert on finding and modifying registry keys and I cannot find the abovementioned directory ...Outlook/search in my registry directories. It does not exist.

    • Edited by Ozzy_BC Thursday, January 10, 2019 9:23 AM
    Thursday, January 10, 2019 9:21 AM
  • And now, something has been broken on the server side, and all my search results appear unread (even though they are read) and the From is blank.  Nice xmas present - search is even more useless than before.

    We are discussing this problem in a separate thread (which references this thread as a partial solution), have a look in case it helps.
    Thursday, January 10, 2019 4:42 PM
  • This worked for me [A bit slow when you search though]:

    go to services (start as administrator)

    Search for Windows Search

    Properties

    Under Startup type: Select Disabled

    • Edited by John Mburu Friday, February 15, 2019 7:49 AM added more details
    Friday, February 15, 2019 7:47 AM