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How to Search Outlook Mailbox and Tips for Email (Windows)

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Email inboxes are kind of like closets. They hold essential items, and we visit them everyday, but like closets, inboxes can get crowded, and important messages can get lost into junk or spam folders. In this guide we will walk you through how to easily search your inbox and provide some essential tips, so you can ensure that no email gets trapped under a pile of other emails.

If you haven't already, visit our guide on how to create folders and file emails in Outlook, so you can stay organized and prevent your primary inbox from filling up with unimportant emails.

Searching Outlook

1. Let's begin by locating the search bar in Outlook. In windows desktop and web, the Outlook search bar is located at the top of the page.

search bar in Outlook

2. Now that you have located the search bar, there are two ways to search your Outlook mailbox.

Instant Search

Let's do an instant search. As an example, let's say you would like to locate a meeting that is coming up. Perhaps you remember a keyword in the meeting email message. So, you enter it in the search box.

basic instant search in Outlook

Luckily, we we're able to find the meeting on the first search, but what if your email has thousands of messages and the meeting was further away from the search date? Well, you have many options to refine your search.

1. Notice that there are multiple locations you can search in the search bar. You can select where you would like to search for your email. Let's search All Outlook Items.

search locations in Outlook

Note: Searching All Outlook Items will enable you to look through all folders, calendars, and contacts.

2. Locate the search navigation bar directly underneath the search box. Let's say we remembered another keyword in the subject of the meeting. Press Subject, see that the word subject appears in the search box, and type in your word.

search navigation bar in Outlook

4. Now, the email we we're looking for yielded as the first search result.

searching a subject in Outlook

Now, let's take a look at all of the other options you can use in the search refine bar. You can choose to search:

  • From - search a name of a sender
  • Sent to - search a name of a receiver
  • Subject - search a keyword in subject line
  • Has attachments - click this if the email had attachments
  • Unread - for emails that have not been opened yet
  • Categorized - if you categorize emails  
  • Flagged - if you flagged an email
  • Important - if you marked an email as important

These refinement tools will allow you to narrow your search to a specific email in which you are looking for.

refining search in Outlook

Advanced Search

An advanced search allows you to simply refine your search beforehand. You can use the same refinement tools listed above, but they will be already included within your search in an advanced search.

1. To do an advanced search, simply go to the search bar, and select the drop down menu that is located to the right of the bar.

Note: +Add more options allows you to narrow your search with a list of additional options.

advanced search in Outlook

Additional advanced search options:

additional advanced search options in Outlook

Tips for best email practices to help you track emails

If something is important, flag it as a to-do item, so you know to follow-up. To do this simply click the flag on the email message.

flagging emails in Outlook

Additionally, you could create an Important folder. (Visit our guide on creating folders in Outlook). Right click on the message and move the email to the Important folder.

moving emails in outlook to a folder

Additional Support

We hope that this helps you with your Outlook email search! For additional details on searching your outlook mailbox visit the Microsoft guide for searching outlook.

Need tech support? Contact your local IT help desk.


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