Create a Search Folder

Note: In Outlook 2016, when you search messages by using Advanced Find in frequently-used text fields, you may receive the following error message: Outlook cannot perform your search. Outlook cannot display this view. Out of memory or system resources. Close some windows or program and try again. We are actively working on this issue to release a fix. In the meantime, please see this article for workarounds and more information.

A Search Folder is a virtual folder that provides a view of all email items that match specific search criteria. For example, the Unread Mail Search Folder enables you to view all unread messages in one folder, even though the messages might be saved in different folders.


  • Search Folders can’t contain search results from multiple Outlook Data Files (.pst).

  • Search Folders support prefix matching in the text strings that you specify. For example, if you want to include all messages that contain the word "rain" in the Search Folder, the Search Folder also includes messages that contains words such as "raining" or "rainy." Words such as "brain" are excluded.

Add a predefined Search Folder

  1. Select the Folder menu.

  2. In the New group, select New Search Folder.

    Keyboard shortcut    To create a Search Folder, click Ctrl+Shift+P.

  3. From the Select a Search Folder list, click the Search Folder you want to add. Scroll down in the list to create a custom Search Folder.

  4. Some of the default Search Folders allow you to customize the search. For example, if you select Mail with specific words, under Customize Search Folder, specify the words to use.

  5. To select a different mailbox to search, under Customize Search Folder, click the drop-down for the Search mail in box, and then select the mailbox from the list.

Tip: To change the criteria for a Search Folder, right-click the folder in the Folder List, select Customize this Search Folder, > Criteria, and then change the criteria. 

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Create a custom Search Folder

  1. Select the Folder menu.

  2. In the New group, click New Search Folder.

    Keyboard shortcut    To create a Search Folder, click Ctrl+Shift+P.

  3. From the Select a Search Folder list, click Create a custom Search Folder.

  4. Under Customize Search Folder, click Choose.

  5. Type a name for your custom Search Folder.

  6. Click Criteria, and then select the options that you want.

    • The Messages tab contains criteria on the message content or properties, such as sender, keywords, or recipients.

    • The More Choices tab contains criteria on other message conditions, such as importance, flags, attachments, or categorization.

    • The Advanced tab enables you to make detailed criteria. Under Define more criteria, click Field, click the type of criterion that you want, and then click the specific criterion from the list. Then in the Condition box and the Value box, click the options that you want, and then click Add to List. Repeat for each criterion that you want to add to this search folder, and then click OK.

  7. Click Browse, select the folders that you want to be searched.

  8. Click OK to close each open dialog box.

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