Using Search in Outlook Web App

Searching Email Messages

Outlook Web App (OWA) offers 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. Find the Search box, located just above your list of folders.

2. Type the item (word or name) you are searching for into the search field. OWA immediately offers a list of alternative searches using your item specifically as a “Keyword” or part of a "From" address. To choose one of these more specific searches, arrow/mouse down to the desired term and select it. This method will likely produce a smaller, more useful result. The search field in OWA does something more: unlike Outlook’s separate search fields for messages and contacts, the single OWA search field also offers to search “Contacts and Directory” for accounts matching the search item.

3. To close the search, click on the “x” on 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 an AQS search term (From, Subject, CC, etc.) followed by a colon plus the item you are searching for. Then either press Enter or click on the magnifying glass icon. 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 and press Enter.

You can also use multiple search items, parentheses and quotes to refine your search:

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

- To search for messages containing an exact phrase, enclose it in double quotes: type body:”proposal deadline” and press Enter.

- 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 and press Enter.

You can also specify the folders to search, and other options, in OWA:

When you start to type in OWA's search field, options for search location and search time period appear near the top of the navigation pane on the left. You can click on these options to narrow or expand the search results.

If your search returns a list with fewer messages than you expect, be sure to look at the bottom of the list for "Get more results" and click it.


Advanced Query Search Terms

For more information on search in Outlook Web App, see Microsoft's search details.