Use Instant Search to find messages and text

Use Instant Search to find messages

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Use instant search to find email messages containing text that you specify, or that meet criteria such as sender, recipient, or time sent.

Use Advanced Find

Getting too many results? Or are you just not finding what you want?

  1. Click in the search box.

  2. On the SEARCH tab, click SEARCH TOOLS > Advanced Find. The Advanced Find dialog box opens. In this box, you can specify much more complex criteria and even search in your Calendar, Contacts list, Notes, and Tasks.

  3. Click the Advanced tab.

  4. Under Define more criteria, click the Field button, and then click All Mail Fields. You'll see a menu of fields you can search on, such as From, To, Received, Subject, and dozens more.

  5. Start by choosing a field, then choose a condition, and a value to test.

  6. Add as many additional conditions as you need or want to test.

  7. Finally, click Find Now to run the search.

Want more?

Find a message with Instant Search

Filter email messages

Find people and contacts

Instant search helps you find email fast. To use it, type some words to search for in this box at the top of the message list.

Outlook immediately starts searching, even before you finish typing, and comes back with a list of emails containing your search words, highlighted in yellow.

Outlook searches all parts of an email message: the Subject, message body, To and From lines. It even searches text inside attachments.

When you find what you are looking for, double-click the email to open it, or view it in the Reading Pane.

To close search, click the X in the search box.

So that's all you need to know to start using the instant search. By the way, don't confuse it with People Search, up here.

People Search is for finding people in your address book.

Instant Search is for searching email. You'll also find the instant search in other areas of Outlook.

For example, click Calendar in the navigation bar, and there's an Instant Search here for finding Calendar items.

And click People, and there is an Instant Search for contacts, too.

Back in Mail, let's say you don't find what you want. It could be because Outlook shows only 30 results when you start.

Go to the bottom of the list and click More to see the rest of the results.

By default, Outlook limits results to 250.

But, if you have that many emails to look through, you should really consider narrowing your search criteria.

The easiest way to do that is to type another word. Now, the email must contain both words - book and store.

If you want to see how many search results you have, look on the status bar next to ITEMS.

With book and store, we have 22 results. That's better.

Another thing you can do to narrow the search is use quotation marks.

If you add quotes around the words, Outlook will only show results, if both words are together.

Notice that now we have 12 results.

What else can you do? Well, you can use combining words, like AND, OR, and NOT.

Let's delete the quotes, and type capital OR between the words.

Now, an email only needs to contain book or store to end up on the results list.

As you can see, the number of results went way up.

OR is a good combining word to use if you have the opposite problem and don't get enough results.

Now, let's see what happens when we delete OR and type capital NOT.

Outlook searches for email that contains book, but not store. Now we have 12 results.

AND is another combining word you can use.

But you don't need to type it, because Outlook assumes you mean AND if you just type words.

Another way to get more specific is to limit the scope or the places Outlook searches.

Hold the pointer over a message. If you have ScreenTips enabled, you'll see a pop-up showing where the message was found.

By default, Outlook searches every folder in the mailbox that is currently open, even your Deleted Items and Sent Items.

To change that, click the arrow on the right side of the search box, and choose another scope.

For example, you can search only the current folder, which, in this case, is the Inbox.

So in many cases, you can find the email you are looking for by using the methods shown in this movie.

But if you have a lot of emails to search, it helps really pinpoint your search criteria.

Check out the next movie in this course, Narrow your search results, for more ideas.

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