How to use Instant Search to find emails in Outlook 2013

How to use Instant Search to find emails in Outlook 2013

Need to find an email you sent or received located somewhere in your inbox or any of the sub folders? Don’t fancy manually looking through hundreds (or more likely thousands) of emails one by one to try and find the one you are looking for?

Well the good news is if you can remember some things about it you can search for it, maybe you remember who sent it, or a word/phrase that is contained in the subject or the main body of the email.

Important – when you do a search by default Outlook 2013 returns the first 30 results, at the end of the results you can click a link to show older emails but this still only returns the first 250 results.

If you want to turn this functionality off, so that you get all the search results shown do the following:

1. Click on File > Options > Search
2. Under Results, uncheck the “improve search speed by limiting the number of results shown” box.
3. Click ok to close the options box then restart outlook.


Ok so back to searching.

You can start searching from any folder you like, i.e. a sub folder or maybe your sent items or if you don’t know where the email you are searching for is going to be you can start searching straight from your inbox.

Just above your email view there is a search box as shown below:

Click straight into this box and start typing whatever it is you want to search for, could be the persons name, email address, a word that is going to be in the email anything you like, obviously the more unique word/phrase/name you put in there the better the chance of you getting the result you are looking for.

In the search results you can see what it is was that matched your search terms as they will be highlighted in yellow, like the example below:

Advanced Searching

For most instances this is sufficient to find what you are looking for however if you haven’t been successful you can narrow things down even further by doing a more advanced search.

Click on the search menu above the search results, you will see the search toolbar as shown here:

You can click on various options to narrow your results down for example you can search by who it was sent to or from, whether it has an attachment.

You can also specify a period when it was sent/received.

You are not limited to one criteria you can put them together, see my example below where I am searching for emails from Phillip received today:

If this is something you use all the time there is nothing stopping you learning the various search commands to narrow down your results by typing them straight into the search window rather than clicking on the icons in the tool bar.

If you want to go even more advanced you can click on “Search Tools” > “Advanced Find” on the search bar and define even more criteria.

So you can see using the various options we have covered you can narrow down even thousands of results to find exactly what you are looking for.

You can easily contact us by email, via our enquiry form or simply call us on 01373 888 333. Posted by Lee Edge on 01/05/2014

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