Search Tips for Microsoft Outlook

Written by admin

April 30, 2015

Search Tips for Microsoft Outlook

Previous incarnations of Microsoft Outlook were notorious for having poor search functionality, but fortunately that situation has been remedied. Creating tangled folder structures to categorize incoming mail is no longer necessary because now finding exactly the right message is only a few keystrokes away. Outlook 2013 comes equipped with an elaborate set of search tools, in the form of the Search tab of the Ribbon, that provide an extensive variety of ways to find just the right message.

The Search Ribbon

Managing an ever-expanding inbox can be a challenge. Fortunately for users of Microsoft Outlook 2013, there are a variety of search functions available to assist in inbox sorting. When the search bar is selected, a new “SEARCH” Tab of the Ribbon appears, which provides a host of search-specific options.


Improving familiarity with the process of modifying search criteria is a way to attaining mastery over the email experience.  Sort messages by sender, recipient, date, priority, size, flag status, whether it has an attachment–any aspect of an email that can be defined or categorized, Outlook search functions can locate it.  Search the Inbox, or the Sent folder, or a subfolder, or everything all at once.

There are even more search possibilities that exist on the Ribbon.  Within the “Search Tools” option is “Advanced Find,” an additional dialogue box that will appear.  This set of options allows multiple search criteria to be combined in different ways.

Outlook Search in Action

Another improvement is speed. Though the number of messages in a particular folder will always be a factor, searching is far faster than it has ever been.  For example, it might take hours to look through an Inbox that contains over 800 messages to find a particular attachment, but by using the search functions, the document can instead be located in hours.

Perhaps the document in question references the cloud, but entering “cloud” into the search bar still yields 61 results.  To improve the search results, the drop down menu that features a small calendar icon and the text “This Week” can be selected, and used to limit the time period that is searched in.  All the cloud-related messages in this inbox received in the last month still amount to 32—a more manageable number, but still potentially time-consuming. On the search ribbon is the “Has Attachments” button with the paperclip. Clicking on it narrows the selection down to only two messages, including the ultimate subject of the search.

Three quick specifications of search criteria brought over 800 messages down to only a pair, in only a few seconds.

The search string auto-populates as each search criterion is selected, or a string can be typed in manually.

[cloud received:last month hasattachments:yes]




With such a plethora of search options, no message will ever get lost again.  These options and more allow a message to be found without having to create a forest of message folders.

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