Windows Can’t Find My OneDrive Files

By Bruce Berls
(originally published August 20, 2020)

Editor’s note: Today we are featuring a guest blog post from Bruce Berls, an independent IT Consultant and Office 365 expert. He is the CEO of Bruceb Consulting. www.bruceb.com

Windows Search has a problem with my OneDrive files. It can’t find them. I’ve gone back to using X1 Search, which indexes and searches everything, including OneDrive files, with grace and dignity.

Microsoft doesn’t think it’s enough to just search your files. Microsoft has a vision of grand unified searches that return results from your own files and email, plus results from a wide variety of other places – the web, company documents, other people’s calendars, the contents of books you intend to read but haven’t gotten to yet, your senior thesis, decoded World War II messages, maybe more. Basically when you do a search, Microsoft will check the entire output of Western civilization and use smart AI to show you search results that are exactly what you want, whether you want them or not.

There have been lots of steps backwards in Windows Search in 2020. The search window that comes up from the taskbar is cluttered and hard to use. The search bar in Outlook has been moved to a less convenient place and produces a freakishly huge box with too many options. Searches are no longer done as you type. There are bugs a-plenty.

Microsoft has never acknowledged it – which is strange – but it appears that Microsoft’s quest for bigger and better searches caused it to completely rewrite Windows Search for Windows 10 version 1909, released in November 2019. An important change: Microsoft announced that Windows Search would integrate search results from OneDrive right in File Explorer.

It’s not going well. I can’t find any OneDrive files when I do a search in Windows.

I’ve done searches starting in different places in File Explorer – starting in Quick Access, starting in the root OneDrive for Business folder, starting in OneDrive subfolders. I’ve done searches for file names and for words known to be in the text of Office documents. The search results are wildly inconsistent.

If I’m missing something, I’d really like to find out what it is. But if this is just broken, it’s inexcusable. Businesses large and small should be howling for a functional OneDrive search capability. Have we become so used to Windows failures that everyone just shrugs and accepts them?

If you’re serious about search, look at X1 Search. X1 Search indexes files on your computer, files on the network, and everything in Outlook, and does lightning-fast searches for words in them. Two years ago I wrote an article explaining why you might want to spend $96.00 on X1 Search because of its many advantages over Windows Search – lightning-fast searches, unified search across all sources, easy ways to filter search results, file viewers to preview search results, flexible ways to work with items once they’re found, and more.

Today there’s another reason, and it’s the best one yet. X1 Search connects to OneDrive and does the same instantaneous full-text searches on files stored online. As near as I can tell, X1 Search obtains a full-text index from OneDrive when it’s first connected and stores it locally on your hard drive. I can use X1 Search to locate files when I’m offline. When you’re online, X1 Search gets file previews on the fly when you highlight a search result.

That’s exactly what Microsoft promised but failed to deliver in Windows Search.

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Filed under Best Practices, Desktop Search, OneDrive, productivity, Uncategorized, X1 Search 8

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