OneDrive indexing for WIndows Search
I am not sure I am at the right place to post this, but since some Microsoft engineer said here would be a more appropriate place for my post in Microsoft Community, here it goes (don't shoot me if this is considered cross posting):
Prior to installing the Fall Creators Update on my Windows 10 machine last week, all my files stored in any of my OneDrive subfolders were indexed and fully searchable through Windows Search. For example, entering ‘content:management‘ in the upper right search box would return all the documents (PDF, Word, etc.) that contained the word ‘management’.
Right after the installation of the Fall Creators Update, none of my files were found when using Windows Search. Either the index was deleted or, to paraphrase Microsoft support people, the option was removed ‘by design’.
However, as I continued to use my machine, I would try to search occasionally to see if perhaps the indexed had been rebuilt. Windows Search would slowly return more and more results as the days went by. I thought the index could not be rebuilt so slowly, one file at a time over the span of several days. At this pace, it would take months to index my 50 GB of files in my OneDrive folder! Today, I discovered as I open files from my OneDrive folders, they are indexed on the fly and thus made searchable by Windows Search.
Is this the new way OneDrive files are supposed to be indexed? Who thought one would only be interested in searching files he or she had previously opened, disregarding the others? While I do understand that the indexing engine cannot index a file not kept on the device (ie. on demand files), is there a way to force the indexing engine to ‘pick up’ all the files that are always kept on the device without the need to open them one by one?
Victory! I found the solution at the end of a post. As you can see if you use MS Troubleshooter for the indexing, it will say that it lack write access to OneDrive's directory. It looks like the problem is OneDrive getting its directory as readonly (apparently this goes along with the "files on demand" feature).
So here is how you can include OneDrive in your index for Windows Search:
1. Disable "Files on demand" in Onedrive settings
2. In the index settings OneDrive should now appear:
2a. Open the Index Settings app
2b. Click on Modify
2c. Look for your OneDrive directory (usually looks like C:\Users\JohnDoe\OneDrive)
2d. Make sure it is ticked and save
3. Wait until the index update is over (rebuild index if necessary)
4. Enjoy having an index that works with OneDrive!
OneDrive online searches well and fast, but requiring users to perform multiple searches (as in needing to search Outlook .pst files separately from Windows Search of local files) to obtain comprehensive results is an impractical, unacceptable and even unsustainable solution. It's also user unfriendly, and it invites mistakes in all environments.
David Slight commented
April 2020, any updates on this?
Anyone in Redmond reading this?
Use File Explorer
Please enable indexing of OneDrive for Business and personal.
Pull the option back you idiots, back to the stone age, with this geniuses, what the purpose of having one-drive if you can't index your organization, leaving the only option, back 15 years, what a shame!
Denis O commented
To prevent losing data, all of my documents, Visio stencils, pictures, etc., are in OneDrive. The inability to index them breaks many default Windows functions.
Makes no sense, MSFT.
As a writer with many hundreds if not thousands of Word doc files, I find the fact that I can no longer search content on OneDrive with Windows Explorer enraging. I am going to have stop paying for Windows 365/ OneDrive as it is now useless to me.
My work around: When I need to do a search for email - I created a link to the online Outlook interface - finds the email fast - however sucks you cant index Onedrive on the Outlook desktop version and now I have to do 2 separate searches for docs vs. emails
Rolf E commented
I found a solution: the flag "Sparen Sie Platz" or "Save storage" in the Microsoft OneDrive Configuration must not be set, then the folder for onedrive comes up in the search configuration
Rolf E commented
Microsoft is pushing cloud computing and excluding cloud storage with onedrive from search - thats not good
David Slater commented
This is completely stupid. Only files from OneDrive subfolders are save to the cloud, so that's where I put them all. Now I can't find them in File Explorer search.
I have about 475,000 indexable files and the nature of my business is that I frequently want to find files I haven't referenced for years.
What am I supposed to do? Spend the next 10 years opening each one so it's indexed individually?
To take away useful functionality is ALWAYS STUPID.
Put it back.
Until last week I could search local OneDrive files from the Windows Search bar just fine, this suddenly stopped working. Now it makes no sense to continue using OneDrive, as the prime functionality was its integrated experience from Windows, Office and mobile. I just makes no sense to me why Windows will not show me search results of my own LOCAL files (that happen to be in my local OneDrive folder). This is a total dealbreaker.
Microsoft's strategy to differentiate itself from Google...no tagging, no searching! If you can't remember where you put it, you don't deserve to get it back...
The ability to search file contents has been REMOVED?!?!?!?!? This is insane. Maybe this is part of a ploy to force people into the online environment, but if so, this is terrible. I have a 1 TB account, which has a lot of data in it. I have relied on windows index to locate search terms WITHIN files that I can't otherwise locate. I find this functionality to be incredibly useful as a tool to find what I want in my ever growing heap of data (anyone find they have less data and fewer files than before...? Probably not).
Note: others have mentioned that this happened after the Fall Creators updated in 2018. I only noticed this recently in late summer 2019. I certainly have successfully searched for indexed items in my OneDrive more recently than that.
Kristian Krpan commented
Is this some kind of a joke, not being able to index content in 2019?
Microsoft needs to understand that this problem limits the usefulness of my Office 365 subscription. Since I can't index my data on OneDrive, I have to look into DropBox or GoogleDrive for storage.
That makes me wonder if there is something better than an Office 365 subscription.
Dear Microsoft, please don't wait for this vote to reach some threshold before this fix is prioritized. Probably millions of users are just as frustrated as commenters here, but simply don't know where to turn to complain about it. They just learned to either live with this major pain OR leave.