Searches not finding anything

I can no longer search in EndNote.  It’s ok if I search from within Word, but if I search directly within the EndNote app nothing gets found:  “No matching references found.”

I found an earlier post about this and someone suggested removing the “spotlight” file and then opening the endnote library again.  I don’t seem to have a spotlight file.  

I have a <name> folder, and inside that are four more folders:  pdf, rdb, tdb and trash.  Plus I have a file called <name>library.enl.

I’m using EndNote 6 on one machine, and EndNote 7 on another.  My .enl file is duplicated on both machines and automatically updates (via dropbox) from one machine to the other.

I was searching fine until last week and then suddenly both machines stopped being able to search (right after EndNote crashed on the machine that runs EndNote 7).  I was able to restore my .enl file from a backup but with no searching capabiity.

I gather I need to re-create an index or something like that but am not sure how. 

When you restored your library, did you restore the .enl and the .DATA folders and contents?  – If not, opening endnote with an enl without a .DATA folder can result in the creation of an empty .DATA folder which may look like it has the right componants but doesn’t .  – The safest thing is to make sure the .DATA folder is restored from the backup and then to possibly just create an empty <libraryname>.enl with notepad or another text only editor which is located in the same folder as the .DATA folder (not IN the .DATA folder) and try to open it.  It is just a pointer to the .DATA folder.  This is why it is also dangerous to use a dropbox location, as the .DATA folder doesn’t play nice with those kind of cloud storage systems, which is why TR went to the trouble of creating the “share” and “sync” feature of the current X7 version of Endnote.  

Hi Leanne,

Thank you.  That’s helpful.  I hope  you’ll answer a few more questions as I head down the path of trying to recover an EndNote LIbrary of 700 refs just weeks before I submit my dissertation.  I think I have a few options but I’ll need some Q&A along the way. 

Firstly, when I set up my dropbox solution there was no syncing available in EndNote which is why I did it that way.  I did ask on the forums at the time and I was quite surprised that I got it working (and it worked well for about 3 years).  The timing of this problem is lousy but it is what it is and I now have to deal with it.  When I’ve got it all working again I’ll work on getting the most recent versions of the software and syncing the proper way.

No, I did not copy down the .DATA folder when I copied back the .enl file.  So for the past week it appears I have been using a mismatched .DATA folder and .enl file.  I gather from your response that the .DATA folder contains all the important data and the .enl file is . . . I don’t know, a pointer of some kind.

I suspect that when my machine crashed some kind of problem occurred somewhere in that .DATA folder.  All my references were appearing but when I added a new one it didn’t sort into alpha order with the rest, and my searches weren’t working. 

So after I read your post today I used Machine 1 to copy the .DAT folder down from dropbox and then created a blank document called <library>.enl as you suggested.  (I first saved the existing .enl file elsewhere on Machine 1).  That did not work.  The EndNote program couldn’t find anything.  That’s what leads me to think something is wrong in the .DAT folder.

On Machine 2, which has been kept in sync with Machine 1 until a few hours ago, I can still see all my references as they were a few days ago - all there, but no search capability.

I need to try and fix this up on one of the machines, then I’ll try to sort out how to sync it using V7. 

Here are some options I’ve thought of:

1.  Export my library on Machine 2 to a .txt file and then re-import it into a new library.  Is that even possible?  Can I import from a .txt file?

2.  Attempt to restore to before the crash.  That would be Feb 14.  Dropbox doesn’t keep multiple prior versions of folders, but it does keep multiple versions of files.  I could go through every folder in the .DAT folder and copy over pre-Feb 14 version of every file that has been updated since Feb 13.  So if a file is dated Jan 1 2012 on my machine then I don’t need to do anything right?  It hasn’t changed since the crash?  But if a file is dated Feb 15, 2015 then I would restore it to the pre-Feb 13 version.  That way everything would match what was there (and working) on Feb 13.  Is this worth a try?  If so are there some files I just don’t need to worry about - such as those in “Trash”? 

If I do a restore of the sort outlined in 2. above (or something else that you recommend) I’d like to quarantine what I currently have  What do I need to do to make sure I can still go back to my non-searching version of my library?  This time I want to make sure I pick up everything I need and I don’t overwrite something that I haven’t copied into a safe place.

I’ve only added a few references in the past week and I realise I will probably lose those but that’s not nearly as bad as losing 700+ a few weeks before I finish my PhD!


HI again,

I got impatient and did option 2 - didn’t work.  I still have all my refs, but no search capability.

Any ideas on how I can re-build my search?  

I really suggest that you call tech support – I am an endnote user and have a full time job, so I visit and answer questions when I can, but am not on all the time. 

Sorry  – but if the pointer creation didn’t work and you put it in the right place, then the .DATA folder is likely corrupted.  Tech support might have tools that could figure out where the error lies, but I can’t and don’t.  --you might try dragging and dropping the items from the corrupt to the a new library  copying it into a new library – it might work  – if you can export the library as a RIS file, you can reimport that into a new library.  but if there were PDFs attached, they would be lost.  Both of these solutions will give new record numbers to the records, which is not supposed to matter, but in my world, it seems too. 

I am assuming your manuscript is still okay?  It sounds like that might be corrupt, if new citations are not treated equivalently to the old ones.  – The problem may lie there?  Can you unformat (a copy! for the next suggestion, you need a formated version of your paper) – convert citations to temporary citations.  Are they all there as curly bracketed Author, year #rec no}  – if not you need to go back to a backup version of that – unformat it and do a compare documents to get back to a current version of the document. 

If the manuscript is okay, you can export the traveling library to a new library, and use that going forward. You would at least rescue the citations that have already been used in your document. this will also give them new record numbers, but it would still be preferable to your current situations. 

One more thing – can you compress the corrupted version of the library? – Can you search the library directly.

Thanks Leanne.  I’ll get onto tech support and see what they suggest.  In answer to your questions (just in case this triggers any further suggestions and also so that I am using the correct language wtih tech support):

When you ask whether I can export the library into an RIS file, I’m not sure which is the “library.”  What file is that and where is it stored?  What would I do to export it?  On my computer the only option offered is to export to a .txt file.  

The manuscript is fine.  I can even put in new citations, but I can’t search for them.  Instead I need to go out to EndNote, scroll through the 700 until I find the right citation, then highlight it.  I then go back into the manuscript and use CTRL-1, CTRL-2 to add the selected citation.  I can’t use the “find citation” function within Word.  And when in EndNote I can’t use the search.

I will check that I can convert the citations to temporary citations and see what happens.

Your suggestion of:  “you can export the traveling library to a new library, and use that going forward” - what is the travelling library?  


Okay.  Well it sounds like the library is fine and the document is fine.  You are having trouble with the link between Word and Endnote?  The tool bar?  or do you have to scroll thru the library to find the citation?  Maybe I need a clearer picture of the exact problem?  What happens when you try to search.  Can you sort on author?  Can you type the beginning of the author name and jump to it?  Can you ctrl C in the library and ctrl V in the document?  

Is the Search option greyed out?

Can you take a picture of your library window when you are trying to search?  

Two screen shots of my before and after typing something into the “search”  window.  

Thanks Leanne - here are some answers:

The Search option is not greyed out.  

My library is already sorted on author (thank goodness or I’d never find anything) but I can’t sort it on anything else.  I also can’t search it.  

I can link between Word and EndNote, but I can’t find a citation using the CWYW tools.

I can scroll through the EndNote library, but I can’s search on, say, an author’s name

I can copy a reference and insert it into my Word doc using CTRL-C and CTR-V.  I can also select a reference in EndNote (after finding it through scrolling) and I can then go back into Word and use ALT-2 to insert the citation.

I’ve attached screenshots showing my library before and after I hit search.  I’ve also attached screenshots of my Word document trying to find a reference using CWYW.  I’m using EndNote 6 on this particular machine, but I have the same issues with EndNote 7 on my other machine so the problem is with my datafiles and not the EndNote software.

Actually I jut realised I can only attach 3 files so I’ll see if I can attach my “before in Word” file in a second post.  


Here’s that final file although you’ve probably seen what’s happenening based on the other 3 I sent.


Can you compress the library (File, compress library)?  – and check your Private messages (the grey little envelope in upper right)

Leanne,  hold fire on doing any more work until I fiddle a bit more at this end.

My husband (home-based tech support) arrived back from overseas and he made some suggestions.  

On my second machine I have version 7 so I tried the in-built recovery function on that machine.  I appear to have recovered my database, including the index.  I now need to do a few things:

  1.  upgrade the other machine to version 7

  2.  check that both machines can use CWYW  

  3.  Attempt to reformat my references in a copy of my dissertation (just to make sure everything can be found)

If all seems well then I’ll look into using the proper sync function.

If things are not well I’ll let you know.  Actually I’ll let you know either way.

Cheers - Susan

Leanne,  I can’t believe this but I seem to be up and running again after that recovery on my 2nd machine.  I’ve been able to find a citation (from within Word and also within EndNote itself) and add it to a document.  I can update the bibliography in my dissertation - all good.  I’ve tested all of this on both machines - both are now running EndNote 7.  

I’m missing the refs that I entered after the crash, but thats understandable and there are only half a dozen of those - easy to re-enter.

I can’t thank you enough for sticking with me over the past few days and helping me understand enough to sort it out at this end.

Many thanks - Susan

Oh well, I opened this after I did my recovery too.  Not sure if you need what I did, but I did drop it back in the dropbox. 

Good luck and stay safe.  Avoid the drop box solution.