Win 11 File Explorer searches not finding contents of .doc and .docx files (unless search string is in the filename) - Milo


miloshapiro

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I recently bought a new Win11 HP tower (Version 21H2, Build 22000.527) and have spent over a month getting all the software, including Microsoft 365, onto it. Before loading half a terabyte of documents onto it, I decided to test searching on it first and I'm glad I did.

I created files of types .doc, .docx, .pptx, .pdf, and .txt with a few words in them.
When I search the folder they're in, I find all but the .doc and docx unless the word that I'm searching for is also in the filename; then it finds it.

I've tried repeatedly and get the same result; no .doc or docx contents ever make the item show up.
This is keeping me from making the big leap to my new computer; I search for contents a lot to find old documents.

I've looked around online a lot in trying to solve this so below is a list of what I've already tried. Looking for some real help for other things that could be behind this. Please don't recommend alternate products; FIle Explorer should work and I love it for everything else it does well!
Thank you!

=================

1) Make sure the file type is set to index both title and contents:

Step 1
: Open Control Panel and choose to view by Small icons.
Step 2: Find and click the Indexing Options item.
Step 3: In the pop-up window, click Advanced button.
Step 4: Switch to File Types tab in the Advanced Options window and check Index Properties and File Contents, and then click OK.

My Result: Was already set correctly; nothing for me to change.

In case it's helpful, here are the filter descriptions:
.xls and .doc is set to "Microsoft Office Filter"
.txt is set to "Plain Text Filter"
.docx and .xlsx currently set to "Office Open XML Format Word Filter"

If any of those are wrong, help!
============================

2) Make Sure Windows Search Service Is Enabled

"The problem might appear if the Windows Search service is disabled. So, you need to make sure the service is enabled and here’s how to do it."

Step 1: Press Windows + R to open Run window.
Step 2: Input services.msc in the box and click OK to open the Services app.
Step 3: Locate Windows Search service in the Name column. Double-click the service to open its Properties window.
Step 4: Make sure the Startup type is Automatic. If not, choose Automatic from the drop-down menu. The Service status should be Running. Otherwise, click Start button to run the service.

My Result: Was already set correctly; nothing for me to change.

============================

3) Rebuild Search Index with the Indexing Options/Advanced/Rebuild

My Result:
Have done so many times with no improvement.

============================

4) Reboot to make sure you have a fresh copy of File Explorer

My Result:
Has been rebooted many times since problem started and never works, even immediately after reboot.

============================

5) Restart File Explorer

If you encounter File Explorer search not responding, the first thing you can do is restarting your File Explorer.
To do that, just press Windows + X and select Task Manager from the menu. In the pop-up windows, find and select Windows Explorer process, and click Restart button.

My Result: No change.

============================

6) Make sure that "File contents" is checked in the "search options" of File Explorer.

My Result: It is, so that's not it.

============================

7) Restart the Windows process SearchUI.exe

"...some users have fixed the issue by restart the Windows process SearchUI.exe that controls the search element. Just go to Details tab in Task Manager, right-click the process and click End task. Then, this process will be restarted automatically."

My Result: I see no such process on the Details list and besides, wouldn't rebooting accomplish the same thing anyway?

============================

8) Verify that you're actually indexing what you're supposed to under "Indexing Options"

My Result:
The three indexed locations are:
1) Microsoft Outlook 2) Start Menu 3) Users

So that third one should take care of making sure the place where my documents are is indexed because both my local documents area and OneDrive are under Users/milo .

============================
So those are the things I've tried. Any other guidance would be so appreciated, especially if it turns out to be an Win11 bug and not a setting, but I expect if it were a bug this would have come up a lot already in postings. Thank you all in advance!!!
============================
 
Windows Build/Version
Win 11, Version 21H2, Build 22000.527
Last edited:

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jvickers

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Here's a MS thread with a similar problem, but on Windows 10. I'd try the first three things the tech suggests but not the OS reinstallation yet.
 

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jvickers

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If the information in post 2 doesn't work, you might try a repair installation. Searching on the Web revealed a couple of people who solved the same or similar issue by doing this.
 

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glasskuter

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Don't jump to a repair just yet. I checked the feedback hub and others have posted similar complaints. I just tested on my machine and search DOES NOT find keywords in documents either.
 

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jvickers

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Don't jump to a repair just yet. I checked the feedback hub and others have posted similar complaints. I just tested on my machine and search DOES NOT find keywords in documents either.
I'm ashamed to say that I didn't even try it out. It used to work, but it's not working now. :confused:
 

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    Hard Drives
    SK hynix Gold P31 1TB PCIe NVMe Gen3 M.2 2280 Internal SSD
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miloshapiro

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JV and Glass: Just to make sure we're all experiencing exactly the same thing: When you say it's not finding "documents" (which can mean many formats), do you mean exactly the same thing that I do? That searching works if the searchword is in the filename for all types AND if the searchword is in the contents in Excel, Powerpoint, PDF, and text, but the ONE thing that doesn't work is Word documents?

If that's your experience too, that would be huge for me...that two randomly-chosen helpful people both had the exact same experience as me. After all this effort, it would mean that maybe nothing is wrong with my computer that isn't inherently wrong with Win11!

And if it's widespread HOW could Microsoft not be jumping on something as big as this?
Will eagerly await your responses! Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

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jvickers

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Hi, Milo.
I just double-checked and found that my system isn't searching in either Word documents or PDFs. I didn't try the others because I had a folder open with just Word documents and PDFs. This seems like a huge issue Microsoft needs to address and one I hope they are addressing. Thanks for bringing this to light.
 

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    ViewSonic XG2530 25"/Benq XL2411P 24"/ Samsung SyncMaster BX2331 23"
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    Hard Drives
    SK hynix Gold P31 1TB PCIe NVMe Gen3 M.2 2280 Internal SSD
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    Samsung SSD 860 EVO 1TB 2.5 Inch SATA III Internal SSD
    PSU
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    Cooling
    Corsair iCUE H60i RGB PRO XT Liquid CPU Cooler
    Keyboard
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    Logitech MX Master 3
    Internet Speed
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    Edge (Chromium)
    Antivirus
    Norton 360
  • Operating System
    Windows 10
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    Home Built
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    AMD FX Black Edition
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    Asus M5A97 LE R2.0
    Memory
    16MB DDR
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miloshapiro

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wow, strange that PDFs DO work for me. It would be really useful if you could give a test on another fold that had .xlsx too, since we differ on PDFs. I think there are different kinds of PDFs, too. Some are like a giant image and others are indexable. A great test would be to create a word document and save it as .PDF and search for the contents. If that works, then we know it's the kind of PDF that matters. Excited to have progress!
 

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jvickers

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The PDFs I searched were the converted word documents, so they were OCR PDF and are searchable. I have to restart my system but will check when I log back on.
 

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System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Home built
    CPU
    Ryzen 9 5900X
    Motherboard
    MSI MPG X570 GAMING EDGE WIFI
    Memory
    Crucial Ballistix Sport LT 3200 MHz DDR4 DRAM Desktop Gaming Memory 32MB
    Graphics Card(s)
    ZOTAC RTX 3060 Twin Edge OC/ ZOTAC Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 Super 6GB GDDR6 192-bit Gaming Graphics Card
    Sound Card
    Proprietary
    Monitor(s) Displays
    ViewSonic XG2530 25"/Benq XL2411P 24"/ Samsung SyncMaster BX2331 23"
    Screen Resolution
    1920x1080 240Hz/144Hz/60Hz (based on monitor setup above)
    Hard Drives
    SK hynix Gold P31 1TB PCIe NVMe Gen3 M.2 2280 Internal SSD
    ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro 1TB
    Samsung SSD 860 EVO 1TB 2.5 Inch SATA III Internal SSD
    PSU
    Thermaltake Smart 700W 80+ White Certified PSU
    Case
    Rosewill ATX Mid Tower Gaming Computer Case, Gaming Case with Blue LED for Desktop
    Cooling
    Corsair iCUE H60i RGB PRO XT Liquid CPU Cooler
    Keyboard
    Corsair K70
    Mouse
    Logitech MX Master 3
    Internet Speed
    120MB/s Download/ 10MB/s Upload
    Browser
    Edge (Chromium)
    Antivirus
    Norton 360
  • Operating System
    Windows 10
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Home Built
    CPU
    AMD FX Black Edition
    Motherboard
    Asus M5A97 LE R2.0
    Memory
    16MB DDR
    Graphics card(s)
    I forget, but it's old.
    Sound Card
    Propietary
    Monitor(s) Displays
    ACER LED 24"
    Screen Resolution
    1920X1080
    Hard Drives
    1TB Samsung SSD 3.5"
    Case
    Corsair
    Cooling
    Stock
    Mouse
    Logitech
    Keyboard
    Logitech
    Internet Speed
    120MB/10MB
    Browser
    Chrome
    Antivirus
    Norton 360
    Other Info
    Currently taken down because of a lack of space :-(
    Maybe I'll make room somewhere and connect to the Dev channel if possible.

jvickers

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Something's amiss because I'm not able to search anything despite indexing being on. Hm... @glasskuter, how about you?
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Home built
    CPU
    Ryzen 9 5900X
    Motherboard
    MSI MPG X570 GAMING EDGE WIFI
    Memory
    Crucial Ballistix Sport LT 3200 MHz DDR4 DRAM Desktop Gaming Memory 32MB
    Graphics Card(s)
    ZOTAC RTX 3060 Twin Edge OC/ ZOTAC Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 Super 6GB GDDR6 192-bit Gaming Graphics Card
    Sound Card
    Proprietary
    Monitor(s) Displays
    ViewSonic XG2530 25"/Benq XL2411P 24"/ Samsung SyncMaster BX2331 23"
    Screen Resolution
    1920x1080 240Hz/144Hz/60Hz (based on monitor setup above)
    Hard Drives
    SK hynix Gold P31 1TB PCIe NVMe Gen3 M.2 2280 Internal SSD
    ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro 1TB
    Samsung SSD 860 EVO 1TB 2.5 Inch SATA III Internal SSD
    PSU
    Thermaltake Smart 700W 80+ White Certified PSU
    Case
    Rosewill ATX Mid Tower Gaming Computer Case, Gaming Case with Blue LED for Desktop
    Cooling
    Corsair iCUE H60i RGB PRO XT Liquid CPU Cooler
    Keyboard
    Corsair K70
    Mouse
    Logitech MX Master 3
    Internet Speed
    120MB/s Download/ 10MB/s Upload
    Browser
    Edge (Chromium)
    Antivirus
    Norton 360
  • Operating System
    Windows 10
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Home Built
    CPU
    AMD FX Black Edition
    Motherboard
    Asus M5A97 LE R2.0
    Memory
    16MB DDR
    Graphics card(s)
    I forget, but it's old.
    Sound Card
    Propietary
    Monitor(s) Displays
    ACER LED 24"
    Screen Resolution
    1920X1080
    Hard Drives
    1TB Samsung SSD 3.5"
    Case
    Corsair
    Cooling
    Stock
    Mouse
    Logitech
    Keyboard
    Logitech
    Internet Speed
    120MB/10MB
    Browser
    Chrome
    Antivirus
    Norton 360
    Other Info
    Currently taken down because of a lack of space :-(
    Maybe I'll make room somewhere and connect to the Dev channel if possible.

miloshapiro

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JV, can't search on anything? Not even .txt or .xlsx? Or just .docx and .pdf again. Trying to see how similar our experience are, so specifics are helpful!
 

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    HP
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    yes
    Internet Speed
    cable hi speed
    Browser
    firefox preferred, can use Chrome or Edge when need be
    Antivirus
    Kaspersky

glasskuter

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In my case, NO document format is searchable for keywords unless keyword is in file name. (doc, docx, txt, rtf)
I don't have any spreadsheets so can't help you there.
 
Last edited:

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro 21H2 22000.739
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Optiplex 7080
    CPU
    i9-10900
    Memory
    32 gb
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Benq 27
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    256 m.2 2230-256+1 tb hdd
    PSU
    500w
    Case
    MT
    Cooling
    Dell Premium
    Keyboard
    Logitech wired
    Mouse
    Logitech wireless
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender+MWB Premium
  • Operating System
    Windows 10 Pro 21H2
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Optiplex 9020
    CPU
    i7-4770
    Memory
    24 gb
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    256 gb Toshiba BG4 M.2 NVE SSB and 1 tb hdd
    PSU
    500w
    Case
    MT
    Cooling
    standard
    Mouse
    Logitech wireless
    Keyboard
    Logitech wired
    Antivirus
    Defender+MWB Premium

jvickers

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JV, can't search on anything? Not even .txt or .xlsx? Or just .docx and .pdf again. Trying to see how similar our experience are, so specifics are helpful!

In my case, NO document format is searchable for keywords unless keyword is in file name. (doc, docx, txt, rtf)
I don't have any spreadsheets so can't help you there.
Milo, similar to what @glasskuter indicates, nothing is searchable for me. I didn't try a PowerPoint, but I'm assuming that the result will be the same. I did try .xlsx files to no avail.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Home built
    CPU
    Ryzen 9 5900X
    Motherboard
    MSI MPG X570 GAMING EDGE WIFI
    Memory
    Crucial Ballistix Sport LT 3200 MHz DDR4 DRAM Desktop Gaming Memory 32MB
    Graphics Card(s)
    ZOTAC RTX 3060 Twin Edge OC/ ZOTAC Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 Super 6GB GDDR6 192-bit Gaming Graphics Card
    Sound Card
    Proprietary
    Monitor(s) Displays
    ViewSonic XG2530 25"/Benq XL2411P 24"/ Samsung SyncMaster BX2331 23"
    Screen Resolution
    1920x1080 240Hz/144Hz/60Hz (based on monitor setup above)
    Hard Drives
    SK hynix Gold P31 1TB PCIe NVMe Gen3 M.2 2280 Internal SSD
    ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro 1TB
    Samsung SSD 860 EVO 1TB 2.5 Inch SATA III Internal SSD
    PSU
    Thermaltake Smart 700W 80+ White Certified PSU
    Case
    Rosewill ATX Mid Tower Gaming Computer Case, Gaming Case with Blue LED for Desktop
    Cooling
    Corsair iCUE H60i RGB PRO XT Liquid CPU Cooler
    Keyboard
    Corsair K70
    Mouse
    Logitech MX Master 3
    Internet Speed
    120MB/s Download/ 10MB/s Upload
    Browser
    Edge (Chromium)
    Antivirus
    Norton 360
  • Operating System
    Windows 10
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Home Built
    CPU
    AMD FX Black Edition
    Motherboard
    Asus M5A97 LE R2.0
    Memory
    16MB DDR
    Graphics card(s)
    I forget, but it's old.
    Sound Card
    Propietary
    Monitor(s) Displays
    ACER LED 24"
    Screen Resolution
    1920X1080
    Hard Drives
    1TB Samsung SSD 3.5"
    Case
    Corsair
    Cooling
    Stock
    Mouse
    Logitech
    Keyboard
    Logitech
    Internet Speed
    120MB/10MB
    Browser
    Chrome
    Antivirus
    Norton 360
    Other Info
    Currently taken down because of a lack of space :-(
    Maybe I'll make room somewhere and connect to the Dev channel if possible.

jvickers

The lunatics have taken over the asylum
Pro User
VIP
Local time
10:24 PM
Posts
4,389
Location
Deep South, USA
OS
Windows 11 Pro
I just submitted a different ticket on the Feedback Hub.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Home built
    CPU
    Ryzen 9 5900X
    Motherboard
    MSI MPG X570 GAMING EDGE WIFI
    Memory
    Crucial Ballistix Sport LT 3200 MHz DDR4 DRAM Desktop Gaming Memory 32MB
    Graphics Card(s)
    ZOTAC RTX 3060 Twin Edge OC/ ZOTAC Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 Super 6GB GDDR6 192-bit Gaming Graphics Card
    Sound Card
    Proprietary
    Monitor(s) Displays
    ViewSonic XG2530 25"/Benq XL2411P 24"/ Samsung SyncMaster BX2331 23"
    Screen Resolution
    1920x1080 240Hz/144Hz/60Hz (based on monitor setup above)
    Hard Drives
    SK hynix Gold P31 1TB PCIe NVMe Gen3 M.2 2280 Internal SSD
    ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro 1TB
    Samsung SSD 860 EVO 1TB 2.5 Inch SATA III Internal SSD
    PSU
    Thermaltake Smart 700W 80+ White Certified PSU
    Case
    Rosewill ATX Mid Tower Gaming Computer Case, Gaming Case with Blue LED for Desktop
    Cooling
    Corsair iCUE H60i RGB PRO XT Liquid CPU Cooler
    Keyboard
    Corsair K70
    Mouse
    Logitech MX Master 3
    Internet Speed
    120MB/s Download/ 10MB/s Upload
    Browser
    Edge (Chromium)
    Antivirus
    Norton 360
  • Operating System
    Windows 10
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Home Built
    CPU
    AMD FX Black Edition
    Motherboard
    Asus M5A97 LE R2.0
    Memory
    16MB DDR
    Graphics card(s)
    I forget, but it's old.
    Sound Card
    Propietary
    Monitor(s) Displays
    ACER LED 24"
    Screen Resolution
    1920X1080
    Hard Drives
    1TB Samsung SSD 3.5"
    Case
    Corsair
    Cooling
    Stock
    Mouse
    Logitech
    Keyboard
    Logitech
    Internet Speed
    120MB/10MB
    Browser
    Chrome
    Antivirus
    Norton 360
    Other Info
    Currently taken down because of a lack of space :-(
    Maybe I'll make room somewhere and connect to the Dev channel if possible.

Retinus

Member
Local time
2:24 AM
Posts
1
OS
Win 11
Win 11 FINDS .pdf (name and text) but NOT the same .doc files. Used to work fine with Win 10. Weird!
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Win 11
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Lenovo ThinkPad P14s
    CPU
    AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 5850U with Radeon Graphics 1.90GHz
    Memory
    32,0 GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    Radeon Graphics

HGNY

New member
Local time
10:24 PM
Posts
2
OS
Windows 11
It's a known bug, apparently. It's been at least 5-6 months that this has been going on and Microsoft knew about it, which is incredible to me.
There is apparently a Beta version of Windows 11 that fixes this, so eventually it will make its way out as an update.
Meantime, I am using the free version of a search app with the alarming name of Agent Ransack (there are other, similar apps out there; search for freeware document search apps and be sure the one you choose does look at content, not just filenames).
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 11

MiguelAngel11

Member
Local time
10:24 PM
Posts
64
OS
Windows 11 Pro
Had the same problem, I took these steps to solve it :

1. Rebuild the search index
2. Wait till the rebuild completes, takes time to do it.
3. Within the Documents Folder did the searches. Example : *.docx, *.pdf, *.xlsx

It worked for me.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Lenovo ThinkPad X1 3Gen Extreme
    CPU
    I7 10750H
    Motherboard
    Intel MW-490
    Memory
    32 GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    Intel UHD - NVIDIA 1650 Ti Max-Q
    Screen Resolution
    3840x2160 200% Scale
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender + Malwarebytes
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Pro Beta

HGNY

New member
Local time
10:24 PM
Posts
2
OS
Windows 11
That's great! It hasn't worked for me or the others on this thread, though.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 11

kwurman

New member
Local time
10:24 PM
Posts
2
OS
Windows 11
I had the same problems as everyone else here. I could not search for the content of word processing files (Word and WordPerfect)
PROBLEM SOLVED
I was on the phone with Microsoft support.
We did an "In Place Upgrade" See instructions at https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us...ndows-11/4d469147-2747-4dcb-88a4-aae9273a4500
After the In Place Upgrade, I re-built the Index
Finally, I can search file contents!

Try it!!
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 11

glasskuter

Well-known member
Power User
VIP
Local time
9:24 PM
Posts
1,823
Location
The Lone Star State of Texas
OS
Windows 11 Pro 21H2 22000.739
I don't know what update fixed it, but some time in the last 9 months since this thread was started, it got fixed for me.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro 21H2 22000.739
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Optiplex 7080
    CPU
    i9-10900
    Memory
    32 gb
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Benq 27
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    256 m.2 2230-256+1 tb hdd
    PSU
    500w
    Case
    MT
    Cooling
    Dell Premium
    Keyboard
    Logitech wired
    Mouse
    Logitech wireless
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender+MWB Premium
  • Operating System
    Windows 10 Pro 21H2
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Optiplex 9020
    CPU
    i7-4770
    Memory
    24 gb
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    256 gb Toshiba BG4 M.2 NVE SSB and 1 tb hdd
    PSU
    500w
    Case
    MT
    Cooling
    standard
    Mouse
    Logitech wireless
    Keyboard
    Logitech wired
    Antivirus
    Defender+MWB Premium
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