Try deleting the cache associated with the Address Book.
Go to ~/Library/Caches/com.apple.AddressBook/Cache.db
For Lion v10.7x: To find the Home folder in OS X Lion, open the Finder, hold the Option key, and choose Go > Library
Move the Cache.db file to the Trash.
Now see if you can search your contacts.
I HAD THE SAME "SEARCH" ISSUE, HOWEVER I AM NOT USING iCLOUD... so my situation was yet slightly different I guess, I tried a bunch of things (exporting, reimporting etc.. Nothing worked..).
FINALLY WHAT WORKED WAS: I deleted everything in the Application Support/AddressBook EXCEPT the Metadata folder. When I relaunched AddressBook.. everything worked fine again, searches etc.. and all icons even reappeared I guess they are also kept with the metadata info not jsut the images folder since I had deleted it) .. and all my contacts from Facebook that I had synched using Cobook and some other utility before that are also there...
I've also played around with CoBook again.. to make sure things were stable, and so far they are.
HOWEVER.. iCloud scares me... so I'll refrain from playing with that for now
Turning off iCloud syncing solved the Address Book search problem for me too just now. But since I turned syncing back on after seeing search restored in Address Book, my Mac is insanely slow. Let's hope this is a shortterm issue - Activity Monitor shows that Address Book is using from 28 - 40% of CPU time. Not sure how much I can trust those numbers tho, because Activity Monitor also says that the system is 93% idle and there is no way that is true. I guess iCloud and Address Book resyncing will catch up with each other eventually ...
I too have been having this problem for months. I have been in touch with Apple Care with no solution. IF I turn contacts off in icloud and then back on while deleting contacts from my Mac the search works fine for about 2 days. Then the process starts all over again.
I am looking for what triggers this to start happening to begin with. I saw a suggestion it could be related to Spotlight??? I have the same contacts syncing to my ipad and iphone with no trouble. I was also thinking upgrading to Mountain Lion might right whatever is wrong with the system right now.
Other ideas are to look in the console log at the time the search begins to fail and see if I can find a clue.
I would be grateful for any and all other ideas.
Tried both; deleting the cashe as well as flipping the contacts switch on and off in the prefs/mail,contacts & calendars. Not sure which but it worked!
What seemed to work for me was removing the contacts on the problem device, not keeping them. Keeping them did not work. Took a leap of fath to let iCloud do its part.
The best thought, is that my mail has been super sluggish for ages, I thought due to size, but now ( thanks to cleaning some issue in contacts ) runs like a top!
Thanks, and love Apple Communties, fixes most my issues if I spend the time.
I had the same problem earlier today (address book search not working). After trying to delete preferenecs, restart system, etc I called Apple (I have AppleCare). While waiting for the advisor, I searched the Apple Community Forums and found clues to the issue - a corrupt address database index (see https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3222240 - Thank you Barney!).
Rather than reinstalling my operating system, which is what Apple initially suggested to cure the problem, I decided to try:
1. Backup system with time machine
2. Navigate into Application Support/AddressBook.
3. Delete addressbook.abcddb (the address database index) by moving it to my desktop
4. Restart system
5. Launch address book (search works again)
So far, everything works again. I'm using OS 10.7.5, and am not syncing to iCloud.
So far, everything works again. I'm using OS 10.7.5, and am not syncing to iCloud."
I am having this problem also but have fixed it once or twice (or three times?). I wondered if your fix 'stuck'?
I don't want to have to 'fix' it over and over and over and over again - I don't really call that fixing if you know what I mean....