SQL Server 2005 Express Full-Text Search Setup Tutorial

I recently had to setup a search facility on a website driven by SQL Server 2005 Express. My natural choice was SQL Server’s Full-Text Search feature, but setup was not entirely intuitive, and the web was full of misinformation. I’ve put together a tutorial to save you time.

If you’re not sure if your have Full-Text installed, read my post on installing SQL Server 2005 Express Full-Text Search.

Once, Full-Text is installed, you need to create your index:


Managing your index is then actually very simple:

  • Browse to the tables of your database, right click and select ‘Design’
  • In the main window, right click and select ‘Fulltext Index…’
    If you see the message, ‘You need to define one or more full-text compatible indexes on the table to create a full-text index’ and the ‘Add’ button is greyed out, it’s because you don’t have a column the database can use to uniquely identify each row. Make sure you have a primary key, and if you’ve no success, start your troubleshooting with this video – it discusses unique indexes about 1/3 of the way through.
  • Otherwise, click ‘Add’, and you have a new index.
  • To configure the columns in the index, click the ‘…’ button next to ‘Columns’
  • For each column, select the column, and select the appropriate language
    To understand why the language parameter is important, see my post on use of the FORMSOF and INFLECTIONAL keywords in SQL Full-Text Search

It’s that easy! Any questions, let me know and I’ll do my best to help.

"Iain marries technical ability with an understanding of the project's bigger picture and the needs of its stakeholders”

Laurence Hughes
Technical Director 2FluidCreative

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