Learn to narrow your search criteria for better searches in Outlook

You can type a number of phrases in the Search box at the top of the Outlook message list. In addition to searching for different words and phrases, you can use various operators, punctuation and keywords to narrow your search results.

The most basic way to search is to simply type in a word or phrase. Outlook uses what's called prefix matching when searching. So if you type ray into the Search box, Outlook will return messages that contain ray, Ray, Raymond, and rays, but not disarray or tray.

Search basics

  • When you type words into the Search box, Outlook scans both email messages and many types of attachments for that word or phrase. For example, if you search for "project" either with or without quotes, Outlook will return all messages with the word project, projects, projector, projecting, etc. anywhere in the sender name, subject, message body, or attachments.

  • When you type in an email address, for example chery.parsons64@yahoo.com, Outlook returns all email messages that contain that email address anywhere in the subject, message body, or many types of attachments as well as messages from that email address. To limit your search results to emails from an email address, type from:cheryl.parsons64@yahoo.com in the search box.

Use Outlook's built-in search filters

Outlook provides you with a number of built-in search filters. To use the built-in filters, click in the Search box. The Outlook ribbon will change to show the Search tab. Use any of the options in the Refine group to refine your search results.

Once you select the search box, the ribbon changes.

Search reference table

The following table shows you some examples of searches you might find useful. In addition to these examples, you can use AND, NOT, OR, <, >, =, and other operators to refine your search. Operators should be typed in uppercase letters.

Type this

To find this

bobby

Items containing bobby, BOBBY, BoBby, or any other combination of uppercase and lowercase letters. Instant Search is not case sensitive.

bobby moore

Items containing both bobby and moore, but not necessarily in that order.

bobby AND moore

Items containing both bobby and moore, but not necessarily in that order. Note that logical operators such as AND, NOT, and OR must be in uppercase letters.

bobby NOT moore

Items containing bobby, but not moore.

bobby OR moore

Items containing bobby, moore, or both.

"bobby moore"

Items containing the exact phrase bobby moore. To search for an exact string, you must use quotation marks.

from:"bobby moore"

Items sent from bobby moore. Note the use of double quotes so that the search results match the exact phrase within the quotes.

from:"bobby moore" about:”status report”

Items sent from bobby moore where status report appears in the subject line, body, and attachment contents. Note the use of double quotes so that the search results match the exact phrase within the quotes.

hasattachment:yes

Items that have attachments. You can also use hasattachment:true to get the same results.

attachments:presentation.pptx

Items that have attachments named presentation.pptx or if the attachment contains presentation.pptx within its contents.

subject:"bobby moore"

Items whose subject contains the phrase bobby moore.

subject:bobby moore

Items with bobby in the subject line and with moore anywhere else in the document.

cc:"bobby moore"

Items in which the display name bobby moore is on the Cc line.

cc:bobbymoore@contoso.com

Items in which the e-mail address bobbymoore@contoso.com is on the Cc line.

bcc:bobby

Items in which bobby is on the Bcc line.

category:red

Items that contain a category name that includes the word red. For example "Red category" or "Redo" or "Redundant."

messagesize:<10 KB

Items whose size is less than 10 kilobytes. Note the use of the "less than" comparison operator (<).

messagesize:>5 MB

Items whose size is larger than 5 megabytes. Note the use of the "greater than" comparison operator (>).

received:=1/1/2016

Items that arrived on 1/1/2016. Note the use of the "equals" comparison operator (=).

received:yesterday

Items that arrived yesterday. Instant Search also recognizes the follow date values:

  • Relative dates:    For example, today, tomorrow, yesterday

  • Multi-word relative dates:    For example, this week, next month, last week, past month, coming year

  • Days:     Sunday, Monday ... Saturday

  • Months:     January, February ... December

received:last week

Items that arrived last week. Note that if you run this query again a month from now you will obtain different results because it is a time relative query.

due:last week

Items that are flagged for follow up a due date.

messagesize:tiny

Items whose size is less than 10 kilobytes

messagesize:small

Items whose size is between 10 and 25 kilobytes

messagesize:medium

Items whose size is between 25 and 100 kilobytes

messagesize:large

Items whose size is between 100 and 500 kilobytes

messagesize:verylarge

Items whose size is between 500 kilobytes and 1 megabyte

followupflag:follow up

Items that are flagged for follow up.

messagesize:enormous

Items whose size is larger than 5 megabytes

hasflag:true

Items that are flagged for follow up.

from:bobby (received:1/7/17 OR received:1/8/17)

Items from bobby that arrived on either 1/7/17 or 1/8/17. Note the use of parentheses to group the dates.

received:>=10/1/16 AND received:<=10/5/16

Items that arrived between 10/1/16 and 10/5/16.

received:>10/1/16 AND received:<10/5/16

Items that arrived after 10/1/16 but before 10/5/16.

sent: yesterday

Items that you sent yesterday.

to:bobby

Items that you sent to bobby when you are searching in the Sent Items folder.

read:no

Items that have not been read. You can also use read:false to get the same results.

subject:status received:May

Items received from anyone during the month of May (any year) where the subject contains status.

startdate:next week subject:status

Calendar items next week where the subject contains status.

is:recurring

Calendar items that are recurring.

organizer:bobby

Calendar items where bobby is the organizer.

category:business

Items that are categorized as business.

firstname:bobby

Contacts that contain bobby in the First Name field.

lastname:moore

Contacts that contain moore in the Last Name field.

nickname:bobby

Contacts that contain bobby in the Nickname field.

jobtitle:physician

Contacts that contain physician in the Job Title field.

businessphone:555-0100

Contacts that contain 555-0100 in the Business Phone field.

homephone:555-0100

Contacts that contain 555-0100 in the Home Phone field.

mobilephone:555-0100

Contacts that contain 555-0100 in the Mobile Phone field.

businessfax:555-0100

Contacts that contain 555-0100 in the Business Fax field.

businessaddress:(4567 Main St., Buffalo, NY 98052)

Contacts that contain 4567 Main St., Buffalo, NY 98052 in the Business Address field. Note the use of parentheses to enclose the address.

homeaddress:(4567 Main St., Buffalo, NY 98052)

Contacts that contain 4567 Main St., Buffalo, NY 98052 in the Home Address field. Note the use of parentheses to enclose the address.

businesscity:buffalo

Contacts that contain buffalo in the Business City field.

businesspostalcode:98052

Contacts that contain 98052 in the Business Postal Code field.

street:(4567 Main St)

Contacts that contain 4567 Main St in the Business Address Street field. Note the use of parentheses to enclose the address.

homestreet:(4567 Main St)

Contacts that contain 4567 Main St in the Home Address Street field. Note the use of parentheses to enclose the address.

birthday:6/4/1960

Contacts that contain 6/4/1960 in the Birthday field.

webpage:www.contoso.com

Contacts that contain the URL www.contoso.com in the Web Page Address field.

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