Find a message or item with Instant Search

Instant Search helps you quickly find items in Microsoft Outlook. The Instant Search pane is always available in all of your Outlook folders, such as Mail, Calendar, Tasks, and Contacts.

What do you want to do?

Find an Outlook item

Add more search criteria

Reuse a recent search

Find an Outlook item

  1. In the Navigation Pane, click the folder that you want to search.

  2. In the Instant Search box, type your search text.

    Instant Search box

    • Items that contain the text that you typed appear with the search text highlighted.

    • To narrow your search, type more characters.

  3. To widen your search to include all folders, at the end of the search results, click Try searching again.


    • To return the insertion point to the Instant Search box, press CTRL+E.

    • When you are finished with the search, you can clear the search by clicking Close Search Close Search button next to the Instant Search box.

    • Attachments are searched, but search results from attachments are not highlighted.

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Add more search criteria

You can narrow your search by adding criteria. When you click or type in the Instant Search box, the Search Tools tab is created. In the Refine group, a number of criteria options help to make the search more specific.

Search Tools tab on the ribbon

Note:  Search fields that you add are specific to where you are within Outlook, such as Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, Notes, Folder List, or Journal. The search fields are also specific to the Outlook e-mail profile that you are currently using. The search fields persist after you exit and restart Outlook. The search query does not persist.

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Reuse a recent search

Your 10 most recent searches are saved and can be reused.

  • Click in the Instant Search box, and on the Search Tools tab, in the Options group, click Recent Searches, and then click the search word or phrase that you want to use again.

    Recent Searches command on the ribbon

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