How To Quickly Fix OneNote 2016 Search Stopped Working Issue


OneNote is my go-to tool for notes taking. I have a lot of notes in a couple of notebooks in the app so I heavily rely on its search feature to find what I am looking for. But lately, the search feature hasn’t been working to its full capacity, always ending up nothing for the keywords I know existed in the notes I took.

I first thought it might be the new Windows 10 inside build that breaks the search index on my computer and that should get fixed at next release. But after a few releases without seeing it being fixed, I realized it must be something else.

Blog onenote maandmap 48fce8343c867d24da2aee661ffe0649 - How To Quickly Fix OneNote 2016 Search Stopped Working Issue

So what to do to get it fixed?

I tried to rebuild the search index in Indexing Options from Control Panel, by going to Advanced options and click Rebuild button.

Rebuild Index from Indexing Options - How To Quickly Fix OneNote 2016 Search Stopped Working Issue

It may work in your case but not in mine. It’s also a time-consuming process and could take hours to finish the whole thing.

What ended up fixing mine is quite simple. I suspected that it could be something related to the cache and thought by cleaning it up and re-downloading the notebook from my OneDrive it will rebuild the index just for OneNote to solve the problem.

I shut down the OneNote app and went to the following location where OneNote cache is stored.


And renamed the cache folder to cache.old. Then re-open OneNote.

OneNote cache location - How To Quickly Fix OneNote 2016 Search Stopped Working Issue

As you can tell, the cache folder has been recreated after the relaunch of the app.

Once the notebooks got synced up, it takes about 10 minutes to get everything re-indexed and my search has come back and works like a charm once again.



  1. Thanks for this critical tip on cache to make OneNote 2016 reindex so it finds all instances of a searched word. I did try the rebuild index approach, but it only indexed a portion of the words.

  2. Thank you so much!
    But I found my new notes not indexed after clearing cache.
    I don’t want to clear cache whenever I add a new note. It seems that Office has abandoned OneNote desktop and they just don’t work on this any more.

  3. This worked perfectly for me, in fact, the size of the cache before and after was very much different in size! the new cache folder created was almost twice as big! weird…not sure why this is but it works perfectly now! Thanks for posting this.


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