3 Tips to Better Searching in Outlook

By: standss , Mar 5th, 2019

These tips will move you from beginner to advanced searching in a matter of minutes. It is easy to narrow down your search in Outlook to find exactly what you looking for. Here are 3 tips (plus a tip #0 for those who need the real basics) to get you on your way.

Tip #0: Getting Started

I am assuming that you already know the basics i.e. to search for anything, simply type what you want in the Search Box in Outlook and Outlook will return a list of all messages that it finds that match your search.

The Search box can be found at the top of the list of emails in your Inbox (or any other folder)

Search Trick in Outlook

Outlook will scan both email messages and most standard types of attachments for the words that you have entered.

Tip #1: Narrow or Expand your Search using the Drop Down on the Search Box

The drop down at the right of the Search Box (see image above) defines where Outlook will search. You can narrow or expand the scope of your search by clicking on the dropdown and choosing where you want Outlook to look.

Tips #2: Learn to use the Search Tab

Click on the Search Box and the Outlook changes its Ribbon to display the Search tab.

Outlook Search

Click on any of the options on the Refine group and Outlook will automatically fill in the Search box with some search text for you. You can change the text in the Search box for the search you want.

For example:

To find all emails sent to you by James Bond with the word Goldfinger in it, click From on the toolbar and then enter James Bond in the space provided on the Search Bar. Then move your cursor to the end of the Search Bar (this is where the Ribbon enters text when you click) and click Subject and change the relevant text to Goldfinger.

Outlook Search

Outlook will search and display all matching emails.

Tip #3: Refine your Searches by learning the Search syntax

The above tips are probably enough but you can really narrow down your search if you understand what is typed in the Search box.

From: Use this to find emails from a particular person e.g. type From:John to see all emails from any John

To: If you need emails with John in the To field, simply type To:John

OR: Maybe I sent the email to John or maybe I CCed it to him. In this case I can use the OR keyword (OR must be in capital letters). I can type To:John OR CC:John (To be honest, I’d probably be better off simply typing John’s email address in the Search box in this case)

AND: What if I want to find all emails that I have sent to James and John. I can type To:John AND To: James. The AND has to be in capital letters. This will return all emails that have both John and James in the To field.

I can also use AND to find all emails to James that have the word golf in them by typing TO:James AND Golf.

Exact Phrases: What if you want to search for specific phrases. I may know too many Johns. When I want to find emails from John Snow with the phrase Game of Thrones in them. I can type From:”John Snow” AND “Game of Thrones”.

These 3 tips should cover most of your searching needs. If you have any questions or your own search tips, please let us know by leaving a tip below.


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