Using Search in Outlook

Searching Email Messages

Outlook 2010 and 2013 offer very flexible search tools. You can search most effectively, and get the most consistent results, if you learn just a few tricks to make your searches more specific.

Simple Search in Mail:

1. Select the folder (e.g., Inbox) you wish to search. The Search box is located just above your list of messages or in the upper right corner, depending on your View settings.

2. Type the item (word or name) you are searching for into the search field.

3a. To search for that item wherever it appears, press Enter. This method often results in too many messages to be an efficient search. So, for better search results:

3b. If you don’t press Enter, Outlook offers a list of alternative searches using your item specifically as a “Keyword”, part of a “From” address, or other component of the message. To use one of these specific searches, arrow/mouse down to the desired term and select it. This more specific method will likely produce a smaller, more useful result.

4. To close the search, click on the “x” at the right end of the search field.

Complex Search in Mail:

You can perform even more specific searches using a feature called Advanced Query Search (AQS). To use the AQS syntax, type a search term (From, Subject, CC, etc.) followed by a colon plus the item you are searching for. For a list of AQS terms, see the table at the bottom of this page.

- For example, to find every message with a Subject that contains the word "tomorrow", type subject:tomorrow.

You can refine your search by using multiple search items, parentheses and quotes:

- To find every message with both “robert” AND “emily” in the CC field, enclose them in parentheses: type cc:(robert emily)

- To search for messages whose Body contains an exact phrase, enclose it in double quotes: type body:”proposal deadline”

- To search based on the start of a word or name, add an asterisk (*) after the search item. For example, to search for anything that starts with the letters "some", type "some*" in the search window.

You can also specify the folders, and other options, to search in Outlook. When you mouse-click in the Search field, the Search tab will appear in the Outlook ribbon. You can choose to search All Mail Items, the Current Folder, All Subfolders, or All Outlook Items by selecting that option near the left end of the Search  tab.

Near the right end of that tab, the Search Tools drop-down menu also offers advanced search tools such as re-using recent searches, searching more than one email account, and setting your default search options.

Advanced Query Search Terms

For more information about search in Outlook, see this page.