SharePoint document library search doesn’t work: How to fix

Despite its colossal size, it’s quite interesting to learn that people have a difficult time with the SharePoint online search feature. There is an amplitude of different factors that can cause this error, both functional errors by the user and Microsoft, whose default functionality may not cater towards the user experience as well as what the users expect.

In this blog, we will cover the various issues that are in relation to this error and find ways to help users resolve the issue in the most effective manner. Follow the step-by-step process below to see how you can resolve the SharePoint document library search not working.

Step by step process – SharePoint document library search doesn’t work: How to fix

  1. First sign in to Office 365.
  2. Use the app launcher and navigate to “SharePoint”, and click on it.
  3. In SharePoint go to the Site where your files are located.
  4. In the menu bar click on “Documents”.
  5. Now click on “Site Contents”.
  6. Then click on “Site settings”.
  7. After that ensure the dot marked as “yes” for “Search and offline availability” is checked.
  8. Now Click on “OK”.

The site content might be unintentionally removed from search results due to a feature called “Search and Offline Availability.” If the option is set to No, just change it to Yes and click to correct the search. The search to index your documents on to SharePoint search needs to be selected in order to have SharePoint document library search start working again. Ensure you have the correct permissions by an administrative member to ensure the settings will be available for you to run the fix. 

Another indexing switch may be unintentionally deactivated if you browse to the Documents page of your SharePoint site. Go to the Documents page and then back to the settings icon. Choose “Library settings,” then “Advanced options.”

Make sure “Allow items from this document library to display in search results” is checked on that page. “Yes” is selected. If you have complex filter views, they may actually conceal some pages from users, thus Index Non-Default Views should be set to Yes as well. Then, to make your changes take effect in the search index, select Reindex Document Library.

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Alternative methods to fix – SharePoint document library search doesn’t work

Inconsistencies within results

Several users have reported that even using the identical title as their search query, they are unable to locate a document. You may have a permissions issue if documents are found in different ways by different users. First, make sure the individual in issue is a legitimate member of the site.

Even though your users are appropriately assigned the Member role, the Member role may have improper permissions to certain of your files. So go to Documents and choose a folder that is impacted. To view the folder information, click on the tiny I symbol and then on Manage access.

Make sure your Member role has at least Can see permission on the following page. If it doesn’t, go to Advanced and re-add that position.

Trouble with a specific document

If you can’t locate a specific, single document in SharePoint and no one else can either, it may need to be checked in or approved. Is there a little red arrow symbol next to the title of the page in SharePoint?

An example of a SharePoint intranet document that has been checked out.

If it does, it has been checked out, which implies an editor wanted to reserve this document while they were working on it and wanted to prevent any potential conflicts if someone else tried to alter it while they were working on it.

If you’re sure it’s safe to check the document back in, pick More, Check-in, or Discard check out from the 3-dots menu.

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Further troubleshooting tips

These are all common reasons why documents may appear to be missing from SharePoint Online search results. Remember that this won’t cover all of the frequent causes if you have SharePoint 2016 or other on-premises versions.

If you haven’t been able to fix your problem using the procedures above, as a paying Microsoft user, now is a good moment to submit a case with Microsoft.

Further user issues with SharePoint

For the most part, SharePoint has had an inconsistency in its search interface that has confused consumers more than benefited them. It’s come to the point where Microsoft has thrown in the towel and launched a brand-new SharePoint online search. This is a lot easier to use, but it comes at the cost of having no significant options to modify your findings.

This may be sufficient for small businesses, but larger businesses will want more. Due to variations in information architecture, Microsoft recognizes that huge businesses’ search demands are too diverse.

Step by step process – SharePoint document library search doesn’t work: How to fix

Step by step breakdown:

Use your account details or if you have a current Skype account with the Office account in question, you can use this.

  • Use the app launcher and navigate to “SharePoint”, and click on it.

You can access the SharePoint application however this is for individuals who only have a SharePoint plan, A larger group of individuals have SharePoint in Office 365.

  • In SharePoint go to the Site where your files are located.

In this example, the site above called “Blog Demo” will be used to create the preview.

  • In the menu bar click on “Documents”.

A document library is a safe storage location for files that you and your coworkers can quickly locate, collaborate on, and access from any device at any time. For example, a document library on a SharePoint site can be used to hold all materials relevant to a given project or customer.

  • Now click on “Site Contents”.
  • Then click on “Site settings”.
  • After that ensure the dot marked as “yes” for “Search and offline availability” is checked.
  • Now Click on “OK”.

That’s it for this Blog thank you for taking time out to read our content, please feel free to email our team about how it went if you followed the steps or if you need more help with the questions we answered in this Blog.

Saajid Gangat

Saajid Gangat has been a researcher and content writer at Business Tech Planet since 2021. Saajid is a tech-savvy writer with expertise in web and graphic design and has extensive knowledge of Microsoft 365, Adobe, Shopify, WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, and more! You can connect with Saajid on Linkedin.

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