Better Search with Microsoft Outlook

By: standss , Aug 16th, 2011

Searching for emails in Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2010 has become much easier and faster. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of Outlook Search.

1. Use Instant Search

Outlook 2007 and later has a very handy Search box that is easy to use and can search the folder you are in, as well as all other mail folders.

Instant Search in Outlook

Just type in your Search term and Outlook will automatically show you any matching emails that it finds.

If you think that the email is in a different folder, click the “Try searching again in All Mail Items” hyperlink that is displayed at the bottom of your search results.

You can clear your Search results at any time to see all emails in a folder again by clicking the little x in the Search box.

X button to clear search

2. Refine Your Search using the Search Tools ribbon

Did your search return too many results? You can refine it further by using the Search Tools ribbon. (This ribbon only comes up after you start a Search as described above)

Outlook Search Tools ribbon

For example, I can refine my search results to only show me results that have attachments by clicking on the Has Attachments button on the ribbon.

Or… If I wanted to only see Search Results from this week then I could click on the This Week button on the ribbon.

You can click more than one buttons for more complicated searches (e.g. click Has Attachments and This Week to filter search results for emails from this week that have attachments)

The Search Ribbon has some very powerful options including the option to Search by Sender, Recipient, Categories etc.

Note: As you click buttons on the Search Ribbon, you will find that the Search box gets updated with your search criteria.

Refined Search options

3. Instead of using the Search box, use Find from the Home ribbon

I don’t use this much myself but you can also apply quick filters to emails in any folder by using Find from the Home ribbon.

  • Click Find (you only need to do this if Filter Email is not displayed)
  • Click Filter Email
  • Select the appropriate filter that you want to apply (e.g. you could click This Week to see all emails from this week)

The results will be displayed and (again) the Search Ribbon will be displayed that you can use to further refine your search.

4. Search for Folders instead of emails

All the above tips involve searching for emails based on the email contents. Depending on your filing system, you may also want to search for a folder… in order to go over emails in a project etc.

Although this final feature is not built into Outlook (everything else above comes built into Outlook 2007 and later), you may want to use a email filing addin such as QuickFile for Outlook which adds a Find & Goto Folder button to your Outlook.

I hope this post makes it easier for you to search and find your emails.

3 Replies to “Better Search with Microsoft Outlook”

  1. I had enabled Instant Search but it slowed my Outlook down to a crawl. It was great for searching but I had to disable it – I couldn’t get anything else done.

  2. This was a actually extremely superior publish. In theory I’d like to create like this also getting time and actual effort to make a good piece of writing but what can I say I procrastinate alot and by no means seem to obtain some thing done.

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