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

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

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 this article did not help you solve your problem, please leave a comment! This website is visited thousands of times a day. There is a good chance that I or someone else has an answer to your question.

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

4.5 8 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

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.

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! :)


its work for me.. thanks


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.


great and clear tips. THanks a lot!!


Please restore the old search bar back!!!


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.

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.

Walther Neuhaus

Thank you very much!

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x