What's the best way to disable indexing in Windows 7?

All of the articles that I've found online instruct me to access services.msc and disable the Windows Search service. However, even after I did that, when I right click properties of my C-drive, I notice the "Allow files on this drive...indexed..." is still checked.

So should I uncheck that option and re-enable Windows Search? Or just uncheck it and leave the Windows Search service disabled?

6 Answers 6


If your objective is to retain search functionality, but not to use indexes, you need to set up the following situation:

  • Turn off the indexing (to prevent an index being produced).
  • Delete the existing index (to prevent windows from using the index during searches).
  • Avoid re-enabling indexing.
  • Optional: enable the searching of file contents.

Turning off indexing

Start -> Run -> services.msc -> disable and stop Windows Search.

Ensure that the Startup type is set to disabled to prevent Windows from starting it again automatically.

Windows search service dialog box

Deleting the existing index

You can get the path to the search index from the following dialog box:

Control Panel -> Indexing Options -> Advanced

However since we have disabled indexing, it will be empty:

Empty Windows Search Properties dialog

But we can still look up the value in the registry:

  • Start -> Run -> regedit.exe
  • Browse to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows Search
  • We need the value of the DataDirectory key:

Windows Search Registry Configuration

Delete the Search folder specified by that path.

Avoid re-enabling indexing

Beware that when you run a search, you will frequently see this popup:

Propt to turn on search indexing

If you enable this, the indexing service will be restarted, and Windows will start using the index for indexed locations. So don't do that if you don't want it to use the index.

Search file contents

You may want to turn on searching file contents:

Control Panel -> Folder Options -> Search Tab

Search file contents configuration


Don't bother for the checkbox "Allow files on this drive...". Even if it's checked, if the service is disabled, Windows won't index anything at all.

If you want, you can completely uninstall Windows Search, as explained in this tutorial (at maximumpcguides.com).

Screenshot of going to start - control panel - programs and features

Screenshot of seleting "Turn windows features on or off"

alt text

  • Thanks for the help! I don't really use Windows Search but I guess it's good to keep it.
    – KL90
    Nov 21, 2009 at 17:21
  • Where is this window? How do I open it? Oct 14, 2014 at 7:12
  • You go there via [start] [control panel] [programs and features] [turn windows features off]. (Screenshots also added to Snarks post).
    – Hennes
    Dec 19, 2014 at 14:53
  • would I still be able to use the search function though? the top right hand side corner to search a file? Thanks! Apr 21, 2015 at 23:02

The previous two answers show you how to disable Windows search altogether. This also causes search boxes in various places to disappear, most notably the search box on the bottom of the Start menu and the search box at the top right of file explorers.

Personally, I like the search box in various places, I just don't want an indexing process to be running all the time. The main advantages of indexing are that it leads to faster searches, and to in-document searches and email searches. If you need neither of these, but want to keep Search in general, proceed as follows:

  1. Do not turn off Windows search, or switch it back on via OptionalFeatures.exe. (reboot if necessary).

  2. Go to the services control (either via Computer, right click, Manage; or by typing services.msc in the search box at the Start menu).

  3. Find the Windows Search service, right click, Properties and set it to disabled at start up.

  4. Reboot (not strictly necessary, but you won't be able to see whether it worked until you reboot).

Note that documents created after you do this will not be found by the search boxes. Windows search is based on indexes only and does not do the equivalent of a Unix find anymore (as it did in the Windows XP days).

You can occasionally switch on the Windows Search service and leave your computer on overnight to have it update the indexes.

A very good in-depth discussion of windows search can be found over at Wikipedia.

  • "You can occasionally switch on the Windows Search service and leave your computer on overnight to have it update the indexes." Can this be automated to only occur at night?
    – endolith
    May 1, 2015 at 17:11
  • 2
    @endolith Great idea. I'm going to try this using Mehrdad's answer below + task scheduler. To start/stop a service via commandline (rather than merely changing its startup value), you can type "net stop WSearch" or "net start WSearch". May 28, 2015 at 1:23

Just type this into Start->Run (Win+R):

sc config WSearch start= disabled

It disables the indexing service.


You can uninstall just the Indexing service (as opposed to all of Windows search which has somewhat big ramifications as below).

To uninstall the Indexing service, open the Windows Features dialog (Start -> OptionalFeatures.exe) and un-check the Indexing Service entry.

Windows Search Uninstallation Warning


After almost 30yrs of coding I have (understandably) become a huge fan of one-liner commands whenever possible - especially when it can replace an entire page of instructions/actions with fancy screenshots. :)

Here is the most proper, fully supported, and most efficient (hard to beat one short line of a single command) method to disable AND FULLY AND CLEANLY REMOVE the Windows Search (indexing) service on Windows 7 and later:

  1. Open "Command Prompt" as administrator (must be performed as administrator)

  2. Execute the following command:

    dism /online /disable-feature /featurename:SearchEngine-Client-Package

  3. Reboot

The best part is if you change your mind and later find you need/want the service, simply change the word "disable" to "enable" in the command and re-run it with a reboot to restore the service.

NOTE: One thing I would recommend performing BEFORE any action to abandon the Windows Search service is to follow these directions at the link below FIRST (only needed if you are an Outlook/Exchange user) to ensure ties between mail indexing and Windows Search are properly severed before removal or you may have issues disabling the mail indexing later:


You must log in to answer this question.