SharePoint List Search Isn't Working

Copper Contributor

We have a SharePoint list with a few thousand items (<5k) and for some reason the search function can't find anything.


We will type in the number on the same page we can see and then it won't return any results.


Any ideas on what we may have set up incorrectly?

6 Replies
SharePoint Online doesn't let us search by Number columns (although currency columns work just fine). Here's a workaround:

Hope that helps!

Thanks Kelly! Unfortunately that didn't solve it either.


To add more context, the column is a text column, though numbers are being used as the string in the vast majority of cases.


Edit: It's also not finding anything in any of the columns (letters, numbers, etc.). It's almost like the search function at the top is just completely not working.



To be honest, there isn't alot of info to go on here, so it's hard to say what might be happening. I have multiple lists with a text column with numbers for a part # or PO # and search works fine. 


1) Start by looking at the text in the empty search box. That will tell you exactly what you are searching. If you see "Search this site" it means you are actually on a PAGE with the list embedded in a web part. In that case, you can search for your text, but it will search the whole site and your desired results may be way down the list. 


If you want to search the contents of the list, you have to be in the list itself and the search box will say "Search this list".  Assuming it's a plain short text field where people just type in letters or numbers, it should work. 


2) when you search in the box, make sure you hit ENTER. Alot of people just look at the entries that pop up and when they don't see their item, assume it's not being returned. In reality, that pop up list is the most common or recent items. To see the full list of search results you have to hit ENTER.


3) Search can be flaky on anything other than a basic text field. I don't think it works on multiple lines of text - which may be your problem here. If that's the case, you'll have to rebuild the column. While you can switch easily between short text, number, choice, etc. You can't switch a multiple lines of text to a short text field. You'll need to make a new column and copy the values into the new column.

Thanks Rachel!

Yes, it is searching within the list ("Search this list"). It used to work within a different tenant but we recently re-created the list in a new tenant and have lost the search functionality (everything returns "No items match your search"), which makes me feel like there is a setting incorrect.

There is one user, the creator of the list, whose search function appears to work - are there any user permissions settings that might be impacting this?

There is a setting in List Settings > Advanced to disallow items from the list to appear in search results, but it is a LIST setting, not a user setting. It can't hurt to check, but I doubt that's the issue.

Given that this is a migrated list, that brings in a whole host of other possible weird things. I don't know how it was migrated, so can't begin to make suggestions.

Honestly, if it were me, I would create a brand spanking new list in your current tenant. Export your old list to Excel and paste in 20 or so lines of data to the new list. See what happens. If it works, then I would probably quit monkeying around with the old migrated list and just paste in the remaining data. I only do about 100 lines at a time otherwise SP can time out and then you have to figure out what's missing or just delete and start over. Ick.

You can use the "Import from Excel" option, but you'll need to make sure to clean the Excel export of all references to the old list. I've found that when this option works, it's great. But it can be finicky and sometimes it's easier to just paste the rows.
Oh, and you know that search works on an index crawler, right? I'm assuming you've let the migrated list sit for several hours or a day to make sure the index crawler has time to work on your several thousand items, right?

I've been embarrassed more than once by trying to paste in data and then search too soon and get "no results" only to return an hour or 3 later and have it work fine.