If you’re looking for something for work or school and can’t remember the exact name or location, you’ll probably end up searching for it within whatever tool you’re using, such as Windows, Teams, Outlook, Bing for Work, SharePoint, Microsoft365.com, and more. You can find apps, people, files, sites, messages, videos, and more when you search.
Starting your search
The search box is usually located at or near the top of the page with a magnifying glass icon on the side.
In Windows, the search box is in the taskbar at the bottom.
Start by typing in the search box what you want to find. You’ll get the most relevant results if you know the exact name, but if you don't, it’s best to choose keywords that are very specific to what you’re searching for.
These keywords can be people, words within the name and content itself, or if you’re searching for files, file type such as ppt, doc, or xls. You don’t need to worry about exact spelling and capitalization when searching by keyword.
As you type, personalized results and suggested searches will show up in the drop-down.
The results in the search box only cover a portion of the content you’ve accessed recently. If you don’t find the result you’re looking for there, you can search all the content you have access to by either selecting enter or the magnifying glass icon. Some search boxes may have a ‘Show more results’ option as well.
If you decide to search all the content you have access to, you’ll come to a page dedicated to search results. This page covers all of your work and organizational content. The results on this page may be different from the results in the search box and the types of results will vary depending on your organization. Types of results include files, sites, people, messages, bookmarks, answers, and more.
Because this is a broader search, you may find many similar results that are not relevant to what you’re looking for, which can be time-consuming to sort through. If that happens, it’s helpful to narrow your search.
How can I narrow my search?
Filter through a person
In Bing, SharePoint, and Microsoft365.com, if you remember a person relevant to what you’re searching for such as someone that shared, modified, or authored a file, you can filter to that person to browse their content. You’ll only find content that you have permission to access when you search through anyone’s content.
When you type the person’s first, last, or full name in the search box, you’ll get options for people in the drop-down. Selecting a person in the drop-down will take you a profile page for that person.
Within the profile page, you can find information such as their contact information, content of theirs including files that you have permission to access, recent emails and messages between you, and where the person is located within the organization.
If you’re searching specifically for files, go to the Content tab. If there’s a lot of content to sift through, you can filter your search even further. Just add relevant keywords next to the person’s filter in the search box.
You can also search for yourself to search through your own files or information.
Use tabs and filters
When you're on a search results page, you can select a tab to narrow the scope of your search to categories such as files, sites, people, messages, images, videos, and more. You can also filter your search even further within many of the tabs. Tabs and filters can vary depending on where you’re searching.
Add another keyword
It’s best to choose keywords that are very specific to what you’re searching for such as words within the file name or within the content itself. This will help you differentiate between similar results and get fewer and more relevant results.
Here are a few other things you can try when adding keywords:
Quotes: If you know of a sentence or a few words that are in a specific sequence, add them to the search box in quotes and press Enter. For example, "Select a tab to narrow the scope of your search"
Synonyms: If you’re stuck and keywords aren’t working, sometimes it helps to think of synonyms to words you would use or the language your team or other coworkers would use and add those words to the search.
If you’re specifically looking for files, here are a few keyword suggestions that might be useful for you:
“My files”: If you enter “my files” and go to the search results page, you’ll get up to 10 results reflecting what you’ve been working on recently.
File type such as “doc,” “xls,” or “ppt”: This will filter the results to the file type. You may not get suggestions if you type out Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, so be aware that the abbreviation works better.
Combination of keywords such as “Alex ppt” or “User-centric search xls”: Combining keywords will automatically filter the results and you’ll be more likely to find what you’re searching for faster. If one of your keywords is a name, using only the first or last name can work, but if there are multiple people with the same name, it’s easier to have the full name.
Note: If you remember a file that was related to a meeting in Teams, it may be faster to go to the Teams meeting, go to the files tab, and find the file there.
How do I expand my search?
If you narrow your search too far, you may end up getting no results or not finding the right results. If this happens, you may have entered too many keywords or filters or you may be in the wrong folder or SharePoint site.
Try removing filters or keywords one by one and double check that you’re in the right place and have permission to access what you’re searching for.
What else can I find when I'm searching?
Central tools, resources, and information
Administrators can define important tools, resources, and information that are highlighted at the top of the search box and search results page for easy access. These can include bookmarks, acronyms, answers to common questions in your organization, locations, and more. They will only show up if they’re relevant to what you’re searching for.
Suggested searches based on your search history
As you start your search, you might get suggestions in the search box for searches based on your previous search history. This is to help you quickly get back to something you were working on before. Your search history contains your searches in Outlook, Microsoft365.com, and SharePoint Online. If a suggestion is not useful, you can delete it by hovering over it and selecting delete.
You can also review your search history by downloading it or clear your search history at any time. To download or clear your search history:
Go to the Microsoft Search section in the privacy section of your account settings.
You can also get there manually by going to My Account -> Settings & Privacy -> selecting the privacy tab -> opening the Microsoft Search section.
Note: Your Microsoft Search search history is private and not shared with your organization or Microsoft. Your administrator might know which searches are the most popular, but they won’t know who searched for what. The administrator can use the most popular searches to define the central tools, resources, and information mentioned above, which makes searching better for you and others in your organization.