Although most of us have our folders and rules to arrange all incoming emails and some of us are pretty disciplined about email organization, none of us can escape the use of the search feature for emails once in a while. We had given the search capabilities of Microsoft Outlook a brief going over in 10 Powerful Productivity Tips & Tricks For Outlook 2007.
Mastering any search how-to has almost become the thing for surviving in the digital jungle. So I guess it wouldn’t do anyone any harm if we took a more searching look at how to get to a lost email in the clutter of our inbox.
Our search tool will be the Instant Search feature of Outlook 2007. Please note that it might not be installed by default in your client.
In that case, it’s just a 5.8MB free download from the Microsoft website. It is a part of Windows Search.
Search for Emails With Instant Search
The Instant Search box is the console from where you can launch all your searches. Type in your search terms and the results get instantly displayed and highlighted in the results pane. To clear away the results click on the little cross adjacent to the box.
To expand your search for emails, you can click on All Mail Items. This includes all folders (personal and archived) in the search.
Search Using Keywords
The search box accepts the use of keywords with specific syntaxes. The syntax, keyword: your search criteria value is usually followed where the keyword can be anything like to, from, subject, cc, bcc etc. For example, a search using to: Saikat, will bring up all emails sent to Saikat.
Searches can be further narrowed using operators like AND, OR, <, > etc. in a way similar to web search. But here, all the operators must be in the uppercase.
The official Outlook 2007 Help and How-to post describes the different keywords you can use for quick searching.
Search With The Query Builder
If all this sounds against Windows’ known user-friendliness, rest assured, this is where the handy Query Builder comes in. Click on Expand the Query Builder arrow just next to the Instant Search box. By default, the four more common ways to search through emails are displayed. For instance, you can search through the content of all emails using an expression called the Body field.
More keyword options are opened up with a click on Add Criteria. For instance, it’s very easy to filter all emails with attachments by selecting Attachments and then choosing Yes from the dropdown.
The Query Builder criteria fields can be combined in a search to narrow down your results. The values and the criteria used in the Query Builder also get displayed as a search query syntax, exactly the arrangement you were trying to achieve with a keyword search for emails.
Search Inside A Message
Searching inside a message works in the most obvious way. Open an email and click on F4 or select Find from the Ribbon.
As in other Office documents, the Find/Replace dialog box comes up for an intra-document search.
Search For Related Messages
Open the email for which you want to find all the related messages. From the Ribbon, click on the dropdown that says Related and then choose Related Messages. If you choose the option that reads – Messages from Sender, all emails from that particular sender gets sorted.
You can also right click on a selected message and choose the option from the context menu.
Search Using Advanced Find
The omnipresent Find box may not be very impressive, but the Advanced Find box certainly is with its array of search options. If you want to find a needle in the haystack, head for Tools – Instant Search – Advanced Find (or CTRL+SHIFT+F). The Advanced Find dialog box opens up contextually, and displays the tab that’s most relevant to you. If you are in Contacts, the Advanced Box displays the Contacts tab.
The Advanced Find box has three tabs. The name of the first tab depends on where you are in Outlook and it contains the most common search options. The second tab is about More Choices and you can use this for more targeted searches.
The third tab is for the power users and it contains a huge number of criteria that you can define to find even a pebble in the ocean.
The Advanced Find dialog box is bit of overkill for a search process and in most common cases you won’t be heading there.
Using the more basic search functions should suffice if your personal folders are organized and unneeded emails stand deleted. But if both the former and latter get ignored, Outlook has enough tools to help you overcome those bad email habits.
Do you need to search for old emails frequently? How would you rate Outlook’s search features?