If you are running Exchange 2007 and find that content search for Office 2007 documents in Outlook doesn’t return proper results, you are not alone!  However, it’s not due to some shortcoming in Exchange.  It’s because you need to install and register IFilters with the Microsoft Windows Indexing Service on the server(s) running your Exchange services and then register them with Exchange, for content searching on those types of document to work.  Don’t feel bad if you missed this upon implementation as this process is not well-known and is not part of the standard install.  In fact, Exchange 2010 has introduced it as a pre-install task and even that enables content searching for the Office 2007 types and not Office 2010!  Generally, this issue is only discovered when one day you realise that you’re missing out on Office 2007 documents when searching your mailbox!

Fortunately, it’s not that difficult to implement.  Here are the main steps for it:

  1. Download and install the Office 2007 Filter Pack  Make sure that you download the filter pack appropriate for your server architecture i.e. x86 or x64
  2. Register the IFilters with Exchange using the instructions mentioned here  Tip: Use the VBScript to generate the reg file to run – it’s much easier and reliable!
  3. Re-index the existing databases.  Either do it manually by stopping services, deleting the index and restarting the service or take the easy way out by running “.ResetSearchIndex.ps1 <database name> ” in the “Scripts” folder under the Exchange installation path.

First two steps of the process are not service impacting.  The third step should be run with caution as rebuilding the index consumes a lot of CPU.  So, either do it out of hours or with degradation of service announced.  Obviously, impact will depend on resources in your environment and type/size of content within the mailboxes.  Fortunately, as the process can be run per database, impact can be distributed over time.  Consequence of not running it is that old Office 2007 documents already within mailboxes, won’t get indexed and therefore, people will get an inconsistent experience while searching.  All new content will get indexed and mailboxes will also get indexed if they move to another database after this process has been run.

This will enable content indexing of Office 2007 format documents for your Exchange environment (and also zip files!)

(Bonus Note: You could also enable content search for Adobe Acrobat format files in a similar way but it has always been unreliable.  Paul Robichaux has documented this in detail here.)