Searching in Outlook – Part One

Posted on Categories IT Hints and TipsTags , , , ,
MS Office

A study conducted by Warwick Business School in 2013 found that we send and receive a staggering 10,000 emails a year. So how do we find that one email that we know we received and filed safely, but just cannot find? Well, if you are using Outlook, there are lots of ways to refine your search so you can find that email.  Here’s the first of two blogs where I show you how you can refine the way you search in Outlook.

Narrow down where you are searching.

If you manage multiple accounts on Outlook a good first step is to narrow down which mailbox you are searching. This is done really simply by using the dropdown options next to the Instant Search box.  You can choose whether to look at one or more mailboxes and you can also choose the current folder or your subfolders.


Narrow down your search using keywords.

If you can’t remember who the email was from but you know that it contained the word ‘gobbledegook’ you can narrow down your search using that word. This is done by using the format keyword:search criteria. Where the keyword is where you expect the criteria to be found, e.g. ‘from’, ‘subject’, or ‘to’; and the search criteria is the word or words you wish to find.  E.g. subject:gobbledegook

Note: two emails have been returned, one is my sent email, the other is the received email.



For a full list of search string combinations click here. Here are some that you may find useful:

– hasattachment:yes (attachment contained in the email)

– attachments:presentation.pptx (note ‘presentation.pptx’ is the file name, so could as easily be ‘letter.doc’)

– messagesize:>5 MB or messagesize:<5 MB (items size greater than / more than 5 MB)

– received:yesterday (items that arrived yesterday, can be adapted to last week)

– due:last week (items that are flagged for follow up for a due date)

– subject:gobbledegook received:May (Item received from anyone in May where the subject contains ‘gobbledegook’)

Example Question: How do I find an email I sent to Holly that had an attachment?

Example Answer: hasattachment:yes from:Holly

Watch out in two weeks time for my part two of searching in Outlook.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.