A couple of days ago I ran into a problem with the Windows 7 Start and Search dialog. I clicked on the Windows start button and typed “mstsc /console” with the intent to start the Remote Desktop Client. No luck, this feature ceased functioning. It worked in the morning and now any program that I type in the textbox just returns some strange results.
Figure 1: Search Programs And Files behaves strangely
I googled and ended up finding the following discussion thread that help me fix the problem: http://social.answers.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/w7files/thread/c5e258e4-323a-40f2-b893-5c25b8dace0c. In this blog post I am now describing in all detail how to troubleshoot The Search on Windows 7 and finally fix it.
Here are the three things to check:
- Make sure Search is enabled (of course it is, it worked in the morning)
- Use the Windows 7 Search troubleshooting wizard (that didn’t return anything helpful in my case)
- Fix the registry (This is dangerous, but fixed my problem)
Verify that Search is enabled
Open the Control Panel.
Figure 2: Control Panel
Click on the Turn Windows features on or off link on the left.
Figure 3: Turn Windows features on or off
Scroll all the way down and make sure that the Windows Search checkbox is checked
Figure 4: Windows Search is checked
Run the Windows 7 Troubleshooter for Search
Let’s assume Windows Search is enabled. Now lets use one Windows 7’s new features: Troubleshooters. To get there go to the Control Panel again. This time click on the Find and fix problems link in the System and Security group (top left).
Figure 5: Control Panel
This will open the Troubleshooting screen. In the top right corner is a little search field. Type “search” there and hit enter.
Figure 6: Search for Search in the Troubleshooting screen
The result should display a link to the Search and Indexing troubleshooting script.
Figure 7: Search and Indexing troubleshooting script
Click on the link and follow the wizard steps.
Figure 8: Troubleshooting Search and Indexing didn’t return a problem in my case
Fix the Search in the Windows Registry
All the steps above didn’t fix the problem, but the following change of one registry key will finally make the search working again. First you need to open Regedit.exe, which is located in the c:\Windows folder.
Figure 9: Regedit location
Navigate to the following key:
This should display the list of properties as shown in the picture below.
Figure 10: Registry values
Double click on the property on the right that is called GroupBy. It should most likely display the Value data: System.Null.
Figure 11: Wrong GroupBy value of System.Null
Change the value to: System.StartMenu.Group
Figure 12: Correct GroupBy value is System.StartMenu.Group
Click the OK button and the Search should work again. It did at least in my case.
Figure 13: Search is working again
The good news is that my search feature is working again. The question remains: What caused the registry corruption? Here is a list of changes on my computer that happened since the feature last worked and I noticed the problem first.
- Installed ITunes 9.2
- Installed Safari 5.0
- Reverted .NET strong key assembly enforcement loosened by sn -Vr * with sn -Vx as admin in VS2010 command prompt.
- Installed definition Update for Windows Defender - 1.85.967.0