Outlook’s search box is a powerful tool to help you find messages, contacts, tasks, and calendar entries. 

You can type a number of phrases in the Search box at the top of the Outlook window. In addition to searching for different words and phrases, you can use various operators and keywords to narrow your search results.

To start your search, click the Search box at the top of the Outlook window. You’ll immediately see Suggested Searches. These suggestions are based on your search and message history. Any suggested search with a clock icon to the left will return all messages that contain the search string in the subject, message body, and even any Microsoft 365 attachments.

Note: Outlook uses what's called prefix matching when searching. So if you type ray into the Search box, Outlook will return messages that contain ray, Ray, Raymond, and rays, but not disarray or tray. Also, the search treats numbers that are connected to words (no spaces between the word and the number) as part of the word. Searching for "365" will NOT find messages that contain "Microsoft365".

In addition to suggested phrases, Outlook will also show you suggestions to help you search for messages from some of your most recently emailed contacts. 

Search basics

  • When you type words into the Search box, Outlook scans both email messages and many types of attachments for that word or phrase. For example, if you search for "project" either with or without quotes, Outlook will return all messages with the word project, projects, projector, projecting, etc. anywhere in the sender name, subject, message body, or attachments.

  • When you type in an email address, for example cheryl.parsons64@yahoo.com, Outlook returns all email messages that contain that email address anywhere in the subject, message body, or many types of attachments as well as messages from that email address. To limit your search results to emails from an email address, type from:cheryl.parsons64@yahoo.com in the search box.

  • When searching for an email by its subject line, the search will be more effective if you search for only a few words in the subject line. For example, to find an email with the subject Spring Planning Meeting Agenda 04/05/2021, search for Spring Planning or Meeting Agenda.

  • Punctuation is ignored in the search box. Entering “Spring Planning Meeting.” is the same as entering “Spring Planning Meeting”.

  • Strings of numbers less than five digits are ignored. If you want to search for 98101, entering 9810 will not return any results.

  • To keep Outlook running smoothly, only the first 250 search results are returned. If this list doesn’t contain the items you’re searching for, try a more specific search.

  • Searching for terms that contain more than one language may return inconsistent results.

Use Outlook's built-in search filters

Outlook provides you with a number of built-in search filters. To use the built-in filters, click in the Search box. Based on your preference, you can use Advanced Search by clicking the filter button on the right side of the search box. Alternatively, the Outlook ribbon will change to show the Search tab and you use any of the options in the Refine group to refine your search results.

You can find the search box at the top of the screen whether you are using the Simplified Ribbon or the Classic Ribbon.

Use the Search box at the top of the screen with the Simplified Ribbon

Use the Search box at the top of the screen with the Classic Ribbon

Use Advanced Search in Outlook

Search reference tables

The following table shows you some examples of searches you might find useful. In addition to these examples, you can use AND, NOT, OR, <, >, =, and other operators to refine your search. Operators should be typed in uppercase letters.

Type this

To find this

bob

Items containing bob, bobbinbobby, BOBBY, BoBby, or any other combination of uppercase and lowercase letters. Instant Search is not case sensitive. This will NOT find items containing abcBOBdef, or 123bob.

bob moore

Items containing bob, along with all of the variations listed in the previous row, or moore, along with any other words that contain moore, but not necessarily in that order.

bobby AND moore

Items containing both bobby and moore, but not necessarily in that order. Note that logical operators such as AND, NOT, and OR must be in uppercase letters.

bobby NOT moore

Items containing bobby, along with all variations listed in the first row of the table, but not moore.

bobby OR moore

Items containing bobby, along with all variations listed in the first row of the table, moore, or both.

"bob"

Items containing the exact phrase bob and not the variations such as bobby or bobbin. To search for an exact string, you must use quotation marks.

from:"bobby moore"

Items sent from bobby moore. Note the use of double quotes so that the search results match the exact phrase within the quotes.

You can also type from: and then the first few letters of a contact's name and Outlook will suggest a list of contacts for you to select.

from:"bobby moore" about:”status report”

Items sent from bobby moore where status report appears in the subject line, body, or attachment contents. Note the use of double quotes so that the search results match the exact phrase within the quotes.

hasattachment:yes

Items that have attachments. You can also use hasattachment:true to get the same results.

attachments:presentation.pptx

Items that have attachments named presentation.pptx or an attachment that contains presentation.pptx within its contents.

subject:"bobby moore"

Items whose subject contains the phrase bobby moore.

cc:"bobby moore"

Items in which the display name bobby moore is on the Cc line.

cc:bobbymoore@contoso.com

Items in which the e-mail address bobbymoore@contoso.com is on the Cc line.

bcc:bobby

Items in which bobbyy is on the Bcc line.

category:red

Items that contain a category name that includes the word red. For example "Red category" or "Redo" or "Redundant."

messagesize:<10 KB

Items whose size is less than 10 kilobytes. Note the use of the "less than" comparison operator (<).

messagesize:>5 MB

Items whose size is larger than 5 megabytes. Note the use of the "greater than" comparison operator (>).

due:last week

Items that are flagged for follow up a due date.

messagesize:tiny

Items whose size is less than 10 kilobytes

messagesize:small

Items whose size is between 10 and 25 kilobytes

messagesize:medium

Items whose size is between 25 and 100 kilobytes

messagesize:large

Items whose size is between 100 and 500 kilobytes

messagesize:verylarge

Items whose size is between 500 kilobytes and 1 megabyte

followupflag:follow up

Items that are flagged using the Follow Up flag.

messagesize:enormous

Items whose size is larger than 5 megabytes

hasflag:true

Items that are flagged for follow up.

from:bobby (received:1/7/21 OR received:1/8/21)

Items from bobby that arrived on either 1/7/21 or 1/8/21. Note the use of parentheses to group the dates.

received:1/15/2021

Items that arrived on 01/15/2021.

received:“this week”

Items that arrived this week. Note the use of quotations when searching multi-word dates.

  • Relative dates  For example: today, yesterday

  • Multi-word relative dates  For example: this week, last week, last month, last year

Notes: 

  • Starting in Outlook for Windows build 16.0.14314, the Received refiner is powered by Microsoft Search to make it easier to find mail outside the local sync window. You may notice slight differences in behavior.

  • Support has been dropped for days of the week and months referred to by name, Tuesday, March, etc.

to:bobby

Items that you sent to bobby when you are searching in the Sent Items folder.

read:no

Items that have not been read. You can also use read:false to get the same results.

subject:status received:May

Items received from anyone during the month of May (any year) where the subject contains status.

Calendar Searches

The following searches will only return the proper results when run from a Calendar folder.

Type this

To find this

startdate:next week subject:status

 Calendar items next week where the subject contains status.

is:recurring

Calendar items that are recurring.

organizer:bobby

Calendar items where bobby is the organizer.

Contact Searches

The following searches will only return the proper results when run from a Contacts folder.

Type this

To find this

firstname:bobby

Contacts that contain bobby in the First Name field.

lastname:moore

Contacts that contain moore in the Last Name field.

nickname:bobby

Contacts that contain bobby in the Nickname field.

jobtitle:physician

Contacts that contain physician in the Job Title field.

businessphone:555-0100

Contacts that contain 555-0100 in the Business Phone field.

homephone:555-0100

Contacts that contain 555-0100 in the Home Phone field.

mobilephone:555-0100

Contacts that contain 555-0100 in the Mobile Phone field.

businessfax:555-0100

Contacts that contain 555-0100 in the Business Fax field.

businessaddress:(4567 Main St., Buffalo, NY 98052)

Contacts that contain 4567 Main St., Buffalo, NY 98052 in the Business Address field. Note the use of parentheses to enclose the address.

homeaddress:(4567 Main St., Buffalo, NY 98052)

Contacts that contain 4567 Main St., Buffalo, NY 98052 in the Home Address field. Note the use of parentheses to enclose the address.

businesscity:buffalo

Contacts that contain buffalo in the Business City field.

businesspostalcode:98052

Contacts that contain 98052 in the Business Postal Code field.

street:(4567 Main St)

Contacts that contain 4567 Main St in the Business Address Street field. Note the use of parentheses to enclose the address.

homestreet:(4567 Main St)

Contacts that contain 4567 Main St in the Home Address Street field. Note the use of parentheses to enclose the address.

birthday:6/4/1960

Contacts that contain 6/4/1960 in the Birthday field.

webpage:www.contoso.com

Contacts that contain the URL www.contoso.com in the Web Page Address field.

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