Spotlight issues in Outlook 2016

A number of people are frequently reporting searches or filtering issues in Outlook 2016.
Outlook uses Spotlight for the searches and most of these issues are related to Spotlight indexing issues.
Most of the time, you can correct the issue by simply adding the ~/Library/Group Containers/UBF8T346G9.Office/Outlook/Outlook 15 Profiles/Main Profile folder to the Spotlight Exclude list in the Spotlight System Preferences, then a few minutes later, remove it from the list. This will trigger a proper reindexing of the folder.

Sometimes, unfortunately, that’s not enough. That can happen when Spotlight crashes while indexing your Mac, or with weird Spotlight mdimporter conflicts.

You can figure out whether Spotlight crashes by looking for mdrelated (e.g.: mdworker) crash logs in either /Library/Logs/DiagnosticReports or ~/Library/Logs/DiagnosticReports

For conflicts, etc. you can use the command mdimport -L to list all mdimporters. Sometimes, you’ll see paths for apps that are no longer on your Mac, or apps that are in the trash, etc.

You can also manually reindex the Outlook identity through the terminal.
Outlook up to 15.24 is running in 32 bit and you need to use:
mdimport32 ~/Library/Group\ Containers/UBF8T346G9.Office/Outlook/Outlook\ 15\ Profiles/Main\ Profile

Later versions are now in 64 bit and you should use instead:
mdimport ~/Library/Group\ Containers/UBF8T346G9.Office/Outlook/Outlook\ 15\ Profiles/Main\ Profile

This approach offers two advantages compared to using the Spotlight Exclude list mentioned before here:

  • When it’s done, you return back to the regular shell prompt. Using the Spotlight exclude list approach gives you no indication of the progress or completion of the task.
  • If there is anything wrong, you’ll see a comment in the Terminal. If everything is fine, you simply get back to the prompt. The Spotlight exclude list approach provides no feedback whatsoever if anything goes wrong.

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