I replaced a hard drive in June, and since then I’ve had problems getting Windows search to return results for settings shortcuts. There were either no results at all, which I finally resolved, or unusably slow (20+ seconds to show a result). Here’s how I finally solved it.

Windows search with query but no results
This should have shown the results before I typed the e.

As you can see in the TechNet thread with the partway solution, I had tried everything short of fully reinstalling the operating system. Indexes reset, re-scoped, services striped and reinstated, troubleshooters ran and re-ran, component imaging repairs, system file checks. Nothing worked until this simple trick.

  1. Open a File Explorer window and open this folder (or copy/paste this into your Run box):
    %localappdata%\Packages\windows.immersivecontrolpanel_cw5n1h2txyewy\LocalState\
  2. Right-click the Indexed folder, click Properties, then Advanced. Turn on the ‘allow files to have contents indexed’, and click OK and apply the change to all folders and subfolders.

After setting this and allowing the index to run, results are now instant once more.

There may not be many users with this issue, but it was so frustratingly mad to me I wanted to share the solution in hopes to save a life.  This instant search is incredibly useful, especially in Windows 8.1 where settings may not be as easy to find without this handy search box. See more about what you can do with the search box on Windows 8.1 on my earlier post, Search Without Leaving the Desktop.