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(This post was first published in 2010. It's obvious from the number of hits this page gets that people's inboxes are still overflowing. We thought we'd share it again to help you out.)
Hi, I am Roby Kurian, Product Manager for Outlook. How often do you ask yourself, “Where’s that message?”
Whether you are a filer (you keep messages carefully organized in folders) or a piler (you keep all of your messages in your Inbox), these three tips can help you find that elusive message.
Personally, I am more of a piler — I have created folders and use Outlook rules to direct some messages automatically to those folders. But most of my work messages stay in my Inbox. Leave a comment below and let us know if you are a filer or piler.
Now let’s talk about the main topic of this blog — search. We made great improvements to search performance in Outlook 2010. Here are three scenarios and strategies to find the email you are searching for.
Instant Search is always a great place to start. If you’re looking for a message from Dan Wilson about some TPS Reports, just type “Dan Wilson TPS Reports” into the Instant Search box. The message from Dan appears.
Sometimes, there might be too many results matching your Instant Search criteria. For example, you’re looking for a message from your manager, and you have 200 messages from him or her in your Inbox (or 2000, if you’re a piler like me and your manager sends as many messages as mine does). In this case, the Search Tools ribbon comes to the rescue. As soon as you click in the Instant Search box, the Search Tools ribbon automatically appears.
Fine tune the search with any additional information you have about the message you’re looking for. If you know part of the subject, click Subject, and type the subject. If you know the message had an attachment, click Has Attachments. There are many ways to refine your search by clicking More in the Refine group.
If you are a filer and can’t remember which folder a message is in, don’t forget to select a folder scope in the Scope group on the ribbon. Click All Outlook Items to expand your search to more mail folders or to include all folders including your calendar, contacts, and tasks.
If you find yourself repeating the same search over and over, you might want to create a Search Folder. A Search Folder is a virtual folder that provides a view of all email items that match specific search criteria. For example, if you regularly search for emails that are more than 1 MB, you can create a Search Folder. Then, the next time you want to find those large messages, just open the Search Folder you created. It’s always up-to-date with the items that match that Search Folder’s criteria.
You can learn more about Search Folders at Office.com.
If you’re using Outlook 2010, leave a comment about your experience with search compared to previous versions of Outlook.
Roby Kurian Senior Product Manager, Microsoft Outlook
More info on Outlook Search:
Better Searching in Outlook 2010
Outlook Best Practices: Search foldersFind a message or item with Instant Search
Best Practices for Outlook 2010
I am seeking to get retrieve an email over a year old. I was able to retrieve the outbound message but not the inbound. Any suggestions?
I just set up a rule that puts incomming email into a folder but new emails to this folder do not show up in the task bar as new received messages so I have to check the folders to see if any new messages arrived. NOT GOOD.
I am clear on how search works. Just updated from Office 2007 Ultimate to Office 2010 Professional. I am been doing searches in Outlook with 2007, and it would deliver all the messages with the search criteria I would enter. Usually my criteria is the senders name or a company name. This new version, 2010, will not. It leaves out the most recent emails, read or unread from the past week or so. It is driving me crazy. The only way I can find what I am looking for is complete a search, then switch the sort from "date" to "from" and scroll up to find all the emails from that person, if I was using the person's name as the search criteria, as an example.
I don't understand why everyone is gushing over this 'feature'. It is primitive.
1. the 'virtual folder' is still rigidly hierarchical. You have to save the search under "Search Folders" Fortunately you can add them to the appallingly named "Favorites" [SIC]
2. If you save folders, you can't use the same terms to your "Instant Search"
Searching 'instantly' you can do some quite handy searches (I've only tried AND and NOT operators. I'm hoping that there will be more sophisticated search operators later when I need them). But try save the search to a folder. No go. What? Oh, I'll go the long way and Create Search Folder > Custom Search > Choose > Critera > ... Oh look at that, I can only use a small subset of options under 'Advanced' (don't even bother with Messages except for the most basic searches: Joe, in subject or body text, only to me etc...)
Microsoft can do some nifty things, but all to often they leave out or ignore the most basic of features. Save Search Folder indeed. Gah. I hope someone points this out to the developers of the next version so that Microsoft can catch up to Outlook 97.
No, I can't use Query Builder because Tech Support have prevented even their techs from regedit and I'd use Thunderbird 2 for a modicum of modern features except the Tech Support have vetoed that too.
Yay Office 2010: taking us back to 95 for only double the price!
I need to be able to read my inbox messages but my outlook 2010 is offline. I can see them feeding to it at the bottom of my screen but they do not appear on inbox? How can I fix this?
I can't receive emails on my outlook 2010 and it also says it is offline but I can't get the offline to change to online.
HELP!!! Please!!! ALL of my emails are gone. More than two year's worth. Someone please tell me there is a backup out there in MS OE land. When doing a system re-install, we failed to backup OE. I was under the, apparently false, impression all emails were held out there somewhere, not on my computer. Now I have paid the big price. This is crucial to my business. Can anyone save me? I'll pay for the answer I want to hear. If you could see me, I am on my knees, begging. Help!!! Steve in Belgium.
I need help! Just started with 2010 and incoming emails go into a "conversation" and show up under a person's older emails, but not in my inbox - so I don't know I've got new mail unless I hunt through old emails. And sometimes people hit reply to a message/topic but are talking about something else! How can I get every email to go to my inbox first so I know it's there?
Using the Microsoft Outlook 2010 Instant Search box, I type in the name of a known email subfolder which is in the Navigation Pane tree but which is hidden inside one of my Personal Outlook folders, & whose path I've forgotten. Outlook returns my search with "No matches found for '[folder name]' "! How do I get Outlook to give me the directory tree-style location of a subfolder, i. e. "Display [ its ] Full Path", whose path I've forgotten (or open the folder(s) containing it & highlight it)? Thanks much.
My inbox shows there are 13 unread messages. However, when I click on the Inbox but none show up. What do I need to do to see the messages? This just started within the last week. Did an update create issues?
Hi, first time blogger here. My boss is a piler, and when he searches for emails he can't get any results for the current month. I'm a filer and I don't have the problem, but I don't think it's because I file my emails.
We are using Outlook 2007. I can't see anything in the instant search settings that restrict results to outside the current month. Any suggestions?
I am using Windows 7 Pro and Outlook 2010/Office 2010. For the past three plus years I was on a computer with Windows XP and Outlook 2007/Office 2007, using Google Desktop I could find any files and/or emails with Google Desktop search in fraction of a second - anything I was searching for came up in less than a second....
Now Google Desktop doesn't index Outlook 2010. Who's at fault Microsoft or Google - I'm sure it is both, with both companies acting like little kids on the playground in a turf war. The only problem I have is that I didn't pay Google anything and we pay Microsoft thousands of dollars corporately (and personally) to run their software.
My big complaint is that I can't understand how Microsoft can have Bing which indexes the entire WWW and can't employ that search technology on a desktop and Google can. I have a lot of emails that Google Desktop could search instantly - Microsoft's Outlook search is a joke and literally takes hours to do a search - you can't even call it slow - it's impractical. It doesn't work for a .pst file of any size (or if you have multiple .pst files).
Bottom line, Micorsoft, is there any chance you could work with Google to license their desktop search so that the WORLD could be more productive? I am sure there would be people/clients/corporations that would pay you more than the licensing fees you would have to pay Google to have a really good search. OR, can you get your BING search technology onto a computer? Help! - I am very annoyed that in this day and age I just went backwards in productivity/technology by upgrading from Office 2007 to Office 2010.
Why is it when I click sort by Icon Outlook doesn't know the difference between an opened email and a not opened email? They are totally differrent icons but Outlook thinks they are the same. What's the point of a search by icon if it doesn't know the difference between two different icons?
Maybe someone can help. I close my Email and go to log into it the next day and my Email is gone.
Now i have things that I Flagged but thats it. Email from the previous day is gone. how do I fix this?
I'm using Office Enterprise 2007, and somehow I must have accidentally clicked on something that now makes my Office (and any programs in the Suite) show up with greatly enlarged type, and very low resolution and harsh colors, in a smaller box. I can not get to the spot to "X-out" or Minimize. The only way to get out is to do a soft boot, then select "Change User". Once I do that, my screen returns to normal.
If I access Word or Excel through "Search Programs", instead of through the Office icon, I can work OK, but I can't do that with Outlook?