Find people and contacts

As your list of contacts grows, it can become hard to quickly find the right contact or person without a lot of digging. You can locate people quickly by using the search features in Outlook.

To search for a contact

  1. Choose People at the bottom of the screen.

    Click People

  2. Above your contacts list, place your cursor in the Search Contacts box.

    Click Search Contacts on the People tab

    Note:  You might be tempted to use the Search People box, which is in the top-right corner on the Home tab. That works, but only if you type the person’s name (or part of their name). You can’t use this box, however, to search for things like phone numbers or addresses.

    Search People box compared to the Search Contacts box

  3. Type the person’s name or other information—like a phone number or company name—you want to search for.

    Tip:  You can search for complete or partial information. If you're searching for someone named Chris Preston, for example, you can type the full name or “pre,” which represents the first three characters of the last name.

  4. Choose the person you want from the search results.

    Click the person you want from the Search results

    Note: The search results return the person's name and contact photo.

Narrow your search

Getting too many results when you search for complete or partial information? Consider further refining your search. When you choose the Search People box on the People tab, the Search Tools tab appears.

Tip:  You can also press Ctrl+E to open the Search Tools tab.

Search tools tab

There are many options available, including the following groups of options on the Search Tools tab, to help narrow your search.

  • Scope    Change the folders you want to search in.

  • Refine    Search for people who have phone numbers or other specific types of information in their contact information.

  • Options    Use previous searches or change advanced search options.

In Contacts, do one of the following:

  • In the Search Contacts box, type the name or other contact information.

    Contacts Search box

  • Press CTRL+E.

You can search on complete or partial information. For example, you can enter a part of a business name or a phone number.

  • In any of the card views, such as Business Cards or Address Cards, click a letter in the alphabetical index displayed next to the cards.

  • In any table view, such as Phone List or By Company, click a column heading to sort the contacts by the criteria that are associated with the column. Some examples of column headings are Full Name, Job Title, Company, and Categories.

You also can search for contacts from any folder in Outlook. Do the following:

  • On the Home tab, in the Find group, in the Find a Contact box, type the name of the contact.

    You can enter a partial name, such as Judy L, a first or last name, an email address, a display name, or a company name.

Narrow your search

When you click the Search Contacts box, the Search Tools tab appears. The search commands enable you to refine your search to help you find a contact.

Search Tools on the Search tab in the ribbon

  • Scope    Change which Outlook folders are included in your search.

  • Refine    Search items based upon categorization, or only entries with phone numbers, addresses, or contacts fields that you choose.

  • Options    Review and reuse previous searches or change advanced search options.

Search from your Inbox

You also can search for contacts from any folder in your mailbox.

  • On the Home tab, in the Find group, in the Find a Contact box, type the name of the person you want to find.

    You can enter a partial name, a first or last name, an email address, a display name, or a company name.

Search using the Search Address Books box

Address Book Search box

  • On the Standard  toolbar, in the Search Address Books box, type the name of the contact that you want to find. Your Outlook Contacts are searched first. If no match is found, all the other available address books, including any that you have added, are searched.

    Tip: You can also enter a partial name, such as Judy L, first or last name, a "display as" name, email alias, or company name. To quickly open a contact that you have searched for previously, click the arrow next to the Search Address Books box, and then click the name that you want.

Address a message after you have found the name or email address

  1. In a new message, click To, Cc, or Bcc boxes in the message header.

  2. In the Search box, type the name.

  3. Double-click the name in the Name list, and then click OK.

    Why don't I see the name list (column) in the Address Book?

    You might have used the More columns search option the last time that you used the Address Book. Click Name only next to Search to restore the name list view.

    Search additional columns

Other ways to search

When you type a name in the To, Cc, or Bcc boxes of an email message, Outlook automatically checks to see whether the name that you typed matches a name in the Address Book. If there is a match, the display name and email address are filled in, allowing you to send the message. If there is no match, the Check Names dialog box prompts you for more information. If more than one name contains the letters that you typed, you can select the name that you want from the list. If the name is not found, you might need to look in a different address book or create a new contact.

If you type an email address or alias in the boxes, and that person or distribution list is in the Address Book, the display name is filled in, replacing the text you typed.

  1. On the Standard toolbar, click Address Book Button image .

    Tip: You can also open the Address Book from the Tools menu and in an open message. In the message, on the Message tab, in the Names group, click Address Book.

  2. In the Address Book list, click the address book in which you want to search for names.

    The address books in the Address Book list, except for the Global Address List (GAL) are created from folders in your Contacts. By default, the contents of your main Outlook Contacts folder make up the Outlook Address Book. Other Contact folders that you create are also listed, unless you set a property to prevent them from being displayed. The Microsoft Exchange GAL is created and administered by your organization's administrator.

    Address Books list
    In the list shown, Contacts contains contact information from your main Outlook Contacts. Offsite offices and Personal are examples of contact folders created to hold specific groups of Outlook contacts for easier organization.
  3. In the Search box, type the name, or part of a name, that you are searching for.

    Search for names

    To search for a name using other information, such as title or location, click More columns, and enter the information. You can search on more than one criterion in this box. After each criterion, type a comma. Each of the included columns, also known as fields for this information, is searched.

    Why don't I see the name list (column) in the Address Book?

    You might have used the More columns search option the last time that you used the Address Book. Click Name only next to Search to restore the name list view.

    Search additional columns

    Notes: If you can't find the name that you want in the address book that you are looking at, look for it in a different address book. The Address Book list can contain several address books, each containing different information. Search for items in any column

    1. In the Address Book dialog box, click another address book in the Address Book list.

    2. To see contacts from your Outlook Contacts list, in the Address Book list, click the name of the contacts folder that you want under Outlook Address Book.

      A contact must have been an entry either in the E-mail field or in the Fax field to appear in the Outlook Address Book/Contacts folder.

    If you are searching an LDAP  Internet Directory for an email address, you have the option of searching for a name by the character that the name begins with or by the characters that the name contains by clicking either Begins with or Contains.

Address a message after you have found the name or email address

  1. In a new message, click To, Cc, or Bcc in the message header.

  2. Find the name or email address using the steps described in the preceding section, Find names in the Address Book.

  3. Double-click the name or email address, in the list in the Address Book, and then click OK.

    Why don't I see the name list (column) in the Address Book?

    You might have used the More columns search option the last time that you used the Address Book. Click Name only next to Search to restore the name list view.

    Search additional columns

  1. On the Standard toolbar, click Address Book Button image

    Tip: You can also open the Address Book from the Tools menu and in an open message. In the message, on the Message tab, in the Names group, click Address Book.

  2. In the Address Book list, click the address book in which you want to search for names.

    Address Books list

  3. For the Search box, click More columns.

  4. Type the information, or part of the information, that you are searching for. For example, type a telephone number, location or the person's title.

    Notes: 

    • You can search on more than one criterion in this box. After each criterion, type a comma. Each of the included columns, also known as fields for this information, is searched.

    • You can include the person's name, or partial name, in the Search box to refine the search.

    • If you don't find the person you are looking for, you might need to look in another address book. Not all address books contain the same fields.

The Advanced Find feature allows you to use multiple keywords or criteria to find someone. This is similar to the search performed by using the More columns option in the Search box, but you enter the search criteria in separate fields, instead of in a single box separated by commas. Depending on the contact information entered for a person, not all the fields might apply to the search.

Advanced Find lets you see which fields are being searched by your specific keywords or criteria.

  1. On the Standard toolbar, click Address Book Button image

    Tip: You can also open the Address Book from the Tools menu and in an open message. In the message, on the Message tab, in the Names group, click Address Book.

  2. In the Address Book list, click the address book in which you want to search for names.

    Choose an address book to search from the list

  3. Click Advanced Find.

  4. In the Find box, type the information in the appropriate fields.

    Type search criteria to find someone

    The more information that you include, the more refined the search results are.

    Note: If you don't find the person you are looking for, you might need to look in another address book. Not all address books contain the same information.

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