Find a message or item by using Instant Search

Instant Search helps you to quickly find items in Microsoft Office Outlook 2007. The Instant Search pane is always available in all of your Outlook views, such as Mail, Calendar, and Contacts. This article focuses on finding messages in Mail. However, you can use the same search techniques to find any Outlook item. In the "Make changes" section, you will find information on refining your searches, including subfolders and data files, and changing the search options.

For more information     To enable or disable Instant Search, see Enable or disable the Instant Search feature. To turn off the prompt message for installing Instant Search, see Turn off the prompt for installing Windows Desktop Search. For information on optimizing your searches, see Learn to narrow your search criteria for better searches in Outlook. If Outlook is not returning the results you expect, see Reset indexing by rebuilding your Instant Search catalog.
What do you want to do?


Find a message

  1. In Mail, click the folder that you want to search.
  2. In the Instant Search box, type your search text.
    • Messages that contain the text that you typed are displayed in the Instant Search Results pane with the search text highlighted.

 Note   By default, it is not necessary to click the Search button Button image to start the search. The Search button is enabled only if you have cleared the Display search results as I type when possible check box in the Search Options dialog box. For details, see the section in this article called Change the Instant Search options.

  • To narrow your search, type more characters.
  1. To widen your search to include all folders in Mail, at the end of the search results, click Try searching again in All Mail Items.

Alternatively, in the Navigation Pane (Navigation Pane: The column on the left side of the Outlook window that includes buttons for the Mail, Calendar, and Tasks views and the folders within each view. Click a folder to show the items in the folder.) under Mail Folders, click All Mail Items or press CTRL+ALT+A.

Search Results

Callout 1 Click the folder to search in.
Callout 2 Type your search text in the Instant Search box.
Callout 3 Messages that contain the text that you type appear in the results with search text highlighted.
Callout 4 Click to clear the Instant Search box, and then start a new search.
Callout 5 Click to widen your search to all folders in Mail.

For examples of how to find exactly what you are looking for, see Learn to narrow your search criteria for better searches in Outlook.

 Notes 

  • To return the insertion point to the Instant Search box, press CTRL+E.
  • After you have performed a search and located your item in the results list, you can clear the search. Outlook keeps you on the last item you clicked.
  • Attachments are searched but search results from attachments are not highlighted.

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Add more search criteria

You can narrow your search by adding criteria.

  1. In the Instant Search pane, click Expand the Query Builder.

Instant Search pane

  1. To add more search criteria, type your search text in the From, Body, Subject, or To lines.

Add Criteria

  1. To display more search fields in the Query Builder, click Add Criteria, and then select the search fields you want in the list.

 Tip   You can also delete search fields in the Query Builder by clicking Remove in the list of search fields.

  1. Enter your search criteria in the new search fields.

While you enter criteria for the search fields, the Instant Search box displays your criteria as search query syntax. The syntax includes the search criteria followed by a colon, and then the criteria value that you entered, as shown in the illustration below. As you become more familiar with the search query syntax, you can type your query in the Instant Search box instead of using the search fields.

Instant Search pane

  1. View the search results in the list below the Instant Search pane.

 Notes 

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Reuse a recent search

Outlook displays up to 10 of your most recent searches.

  • In the Instant Search pane, click Show Instant Search Pane Menu, point to Recent Searches, and then click the search that you want in the list.

Search pane

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Make changes to a search

In this section


Include subfolders in Instant Search

Instant Search (Instant Search: A Search feature that provides search results quickly with word highlighting as you type. The Instant Search pane is always available in Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, Notes, Folder List, and Journal.) can search every folder, including subfolders, in the Outlook Folder List (Folder List: Displays the folders available in your mailbox. To view subfolders, click the expand icon next to the folder. If the Folder List is not visible, press CTRL+6.), but the option to search all folders is not selected by default. You must turn on this search option.

  1. On the Tools menu, point to Instant Search, and then click Search Options.

You can also click the arrow in the Instant Search pane, and then click Search Options.

  1. Under Instant Search Pane, select All folders.

Include the Deleted Items folder in Instant Search

By default, the Deleted Items folder is not included when searching All Mail Items. To include the Deleted Items folder, do the following:

  1. On the Tools menu, point to Instant Search, and then click Search Options.

You can also click the arrow in the Instant Search pane, and then click Search Options.

  1. Under Deleted Items, select the Include messages from the Deleted Items folder in each data file when searching in All Items check box.

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Include data files in searches

By default, Outlook includes the following data files in a search of All Mail Items:

However, you can select any data file to be included in searches.

All Mail Items

 Important   Choosing which data files to include in searches applies only to a search of All Mail Items that searches across one or more data files.

Choose which data files to include in searches

  1. In Mail, in the Navigation Pane, click the arrow in All Mail Items.
  2. Select the name of the data file that you want to include or exclude in your searches.

For example:

  • Your POP3 account might be for home and personal e-mail messages only, so at work, you want to search only your work e-mail account. In that case, clear the My Home E-mail check box to exclude it from being searched.
  • A data file that you might want to exclude from a search is a large archive folder.
  • You might work at a legal firm and keep information about each of your cases in different .pst data files that you keep open. If you are working on a specific case, you might not want .pst files for the other cases to be included in searches related to the specific case.

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Change the Instant Search options

  1. On the Tools menu, click Instant Search, and then click Search Options.

Alternatively, click the arrow in the Instant Search pane, and then click Search Options.

  1. Choose the options that you want:

Indexing

  • Index messages in these data files     Select the data files that you want Outlook to index for searches.
  • Prompt me when search results may be incomplete because messages are still being indexed     This option is selected by default. Outlook displays a message in the Instant Search pane when showing all search results is delayed because Outlook is not finished indexing all messages in the data files selected. Clicking the message opens a dialog box that shows how many items remain to be indexed. Clear the check box if you don't want to see those messages.

Search

  • Display search results as I type when possible     This option is selected by default. Clear this check box if you don't want the search results to be displayed as you type. For example, you might not want to see any search results until you press ENTER or click the Search button. The Search button Button image is enabled only if you clear this option. You might also want to clear this check box because the search results are not displayed as fast as you want.
  • Make searches faster by limiting the number of results shown     This option is selected by default. When your search returns an extremely large number of results, Outlook limits the number shown to speed up search and shows you the most recent items. Outlook displays a message in the Instant Search pane alerting you to this limitation. You can click the message to open a dialog box and see all of the results.
  • Highlight the words that I search for     This option is selected by default. Clear this check box if you don't want your search results to be highlighted. If you want to change the color of the highlight, click Change, and then select a color in the Color dialog box.

Deleted Items

  • Include messages from the Deleted Items folder in each data file when searching All Items     This option is not selected by default. Select this check box if you want to include deleted items in your searches when doing a search in All Mail Items.

Instant Search Pane

  • When searching, show results from     The option for Only the currently selected folder is selected by default. Select the All folders check box if you want all searches to include every folder in the Outlook Folder List.

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Outlook 2007