Fix for search ribbon missing in Outlook

The Search Ribbon may be missing after a Windows or Office update. This is a known issue that unfortunately is more common after updates for Outlook 2019 and Office 365.
Below you see an example where the Search ribbon is no longer present.
In this article, you can read the step by step solution on how to get the Search Ribbon back

outlook search ribbon missing

Good to know before you follow the How-To Guide

If you’ve landed on this page because your Outlook search bar is missing, please note that Microsoft often releases updates that can slightly change the layout or functionality.

Pro tip:
Pressing CTRL+E or F3 in Outlook will take you to the Search bar immediately. It opens the search ribbon (if needed) and puts an active cursor in the search bar. You can use this shortcut key everywhere in Outlook, even when the search bar is missing.

Previously you could find the search bar IN a folder of your mailbox. Since Outlook 2004 (released in May 2020), the search bar is in the Outlook title bar at the very top. Here you can directly enter a search term and press ENTER. You can expand the advanced search options by clicking on the arrow on the right side of the input field.

outlook advanced search options

How to add the missing Search ribbon in Outlook

outlook search ribbon from sent to

This step by step howto guides you to add the Search Ribbon in Outlook

Step 1: Open the Options window

outlook click file options

In Outlook, click File -> Options

Step 2: Go to Customize Ribbon and select Tool Tabs and Main Tabs

outlook customize ribbon select tools main tabs

In the Outlook Options window, locate and click on Customize Ribbon in the left bar.
Under Choose commands from, select Tools Tabs.
Under Customize the Classic Ribbon, select Main Tab.

Step 3: Add Search Tools to Main Tabs

outlook add Search to main tabs

Left-click Search to select it (so it will be blue highlighted).
Then click the Add >> button. Search (Custom) will now appear under the Main Tabs.

Step 4: Click OK

outlook click OK to save the search ribbon change

At the bottom of the Outlook Options window, click OK to save the changes and to close the window

Step 5: Use the Search ribbon to refine your search

outlook ribbon refine

Back in Outlooks’ main window, click the Search ribbon
Select any icon in the Refine section to search for specific emails. In my example, I select From to find emails from a specific sender

Final notes

If you want to continue the search yourself first, take note of the following websites:

Official Outlook Help and Learning Site
Search all folders in Outlook 2007

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Walther Neuhaus

Thank you very much!

Arlan Swanson

This is one of the worst downgrades MS had done. It has made searching emails incredibly more difficult and the results are poor. Color me terribly irritated.


How can anyone think this P.O.S. is an “update”???
Before we could quickly add fields, now???
Opening sentence sums it up. This is a P.O.S.


Please restore the old search bar back!!!


great and clear tips. THanks a lot!!


Step 4 did not work for me. The “add” button did not become clickable after left-clicking on “search”.


Same with me.


Same for me.


The Add button is grayed out and not clickable for me also.


its work for me.. thanks

Elizabeth Whyman

My lovely search box, as shown in Outlook’s own help here:
disappeared half way through today, leaving me with this useless, too far away version whose setting you can only change by going to Settings. Arrrrrgh:
Any ideas?

Elizabeth Whyman

I fixed it ! When you choose to search ALL Mailboxes, then restart Outlook, the search box returns to its original place.


yes that worked! 🙂


how did it work for you? for me it is still at the top rather than its original place


I followed the process you outlined (appreciate the details), however the fix did not take. I even restarted Outlook, but the “search” function isn’t showing up in the ribbon. Do I need to upload Outlook again? Outlook can be so frustrating at times! Thank you.

Maria Huck

this is so uncomfortable.
whoever decided to remove the previous search version from outlook needs to get a remark ‘not well done!’


Microsoft must consider customer opinion prior making such changes. I’m really surprised that we pay Microsoft for doing experiments on us, in reality Microsoft should pay us for seeing Dr. after such terrible updates from the past 1 week I’m unable to do my mail search and if i try to find apple it shows bananas. On top of it there is clear document from Microsoft which guide to fix the issue.


Perfect fix. I tried other sites that failed. Appreciate you!


Thank you. Best instructions ever – compared to every other writeup on the same topic


Thanks for the article. It was helpful.


Hi, I followed your step by step instructions, but still unable to conduct search of emails. The small bar for search is still not found, but the top search bar is there, and when I click the top search bar (empty one) I cannot type anything in there, and if I type something, it will auto switch off and back on again. Why? Any tips please. Thank you.


in Step 3: Add Search Tools to Main TabsFrom Choose command… dropdown select All Tools/All Commands and you will find Search tools option. Select Search and Add as shown on the picture and click OK. hope this helps.

Peter Keresztes

Great article. I wish I found this the other day. I’ve spent two days trying to figure out how to do a search in my inbox since Search went missing. Thanks alot Microsoft, you really know how to mess with people!


Please how to open hidden options in search bar??


good, thanks 🙂

Deepak Dewan

Hi There, I am a tech specialist and had the same issue recently.
I have Microsoft 365 app enterprise version.

I clicked on File menu –clicked on Office accounts and clicked on updates options and checked for updates after few minutes restarted outlook app and got the search avaialble at top .

It was strange but issue is solved.


Very helpful. Thank you!

Michelle L Davis

can I move search bar back to top of my in box instead at very top


nice explanation thank you , it resolved my issue


It worked. Many thanks.


i have problem on search, every time i filter email its now showing the results properly


i have problem on search, every time i filter email its not showing the results properly


Thanks a lot. It worked. The quick search box is still gone though.

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