Getting the best out of searching in Outlook on the desktop and the web
Wed, 08 Jun 2022

Since its introduction to the council in 2021, Outlook has been one Microsoft 365 program staff rely on daily. It gets council emails across collaboratively, sets up work calendars and generally keeps us up to date as an authority.

Its innovative features, in fact, allow the council to be seen as a modern workplace for a modern workforce.

But on both the desktop and web versions of Outlook how can staff get the best out of the search function? Finding emails quicker, after all, can save valuable time.  

Below are a few Q&As to show how we can search better.

Searching on the desktop version

Q. Where can I search on my desktop version of Outlook?

A. The search bar sits at the top of the Outlook page (see below).

Outlook search image 1

On the left-hand side of the search bar, there is a drop-down box which allows you to select the folders within Outlook you would like to search (see below).

Outlook search image 2

Q. What happens when I click on the search space?

A. When you first click on the Search space, it will show Suggested Searches - this is a list of previous searches, saving time typing if the thing you're looking for is already listed in your search and message history.

Q. How do I make basic searches?

A. Outlook can help you find an email or email attachment by simply typing in a word or phrase relevant to it. For example, type in the word 'meeting', either with or without quotation marks, and all the messages and attachments including the word 'meeting' will return.

If the word 'meeting' shows up in the sender's name, email subject line, message body or attachment, it will appear here (see below).

Outlook search image 3

Q. Can you do the same basic search using an email address?

A. Yes, you can do a basic search with an email address. This can be particularly useful if you want to find an old email from a specific person. The search returns emails containing that email address anywhere in the subject line, message body or any attachments which were previously sent.

Q. How do I search for specific subject line emails?

A. You may want to return an email by searching for its specific subject line title, but with the Outlook search, you don't have to type out the entire text. If, for example, you want to find a project meeting, simply type 'project meeting'.

Q. Does the Outlook search have filters to narrow down a search?

A. Yes. Outlook comes with a range of built-in search filters to make that search exciting and interesting.

On the search bar, click on the white box and select the downward arrow which then pops up an advanced search field box.

In this, you can really narrow down the search to suit you the best. You can choose to search 'Current mailbox' or search within a different folder; add a date range to your search; or choose whether to search for an attachment on the email you're looking for. By going to the Add more options box, you can tick further fields on the advanced search (see below).

Outlook search image 4

For more information about using the search function on the desktop version of Outlook, visit here. This page also includes a section on Search reference tables - giving examples of searches which might be of use.

Searching on the web version

Q. Are the basic and advanced searches on the web version similar to the desktop?

A. There is a similar process of doing basic and advanced searches, however it is worth noting further that when the filters icon is selected and he advanced search appears, you can narrow down by adding the email sender, recipient and the time frame you think an email was sent (see below).

Outlook search image 5


Q. Can I search in archived emails, which were migrated from Lotus Notes?

A. Yes, go to the In-place Archive section of the web version of Outlook (see below) and click on the folder.

Outlook search image 6

Then, go onto the search bar, which says Search archive within it. That will search that specific folder within In-place Archive.

Outlook search image 7

However, you can change the folder within the Archive section to All folders in archive or Deleted Items, meaning you don't have to limit a search to one specific folder within In-place Archive.

Outlook search image 8

NB: you can do a similar search in archived emails on the desktop version of Outlook.

For further information about using the search function on the web version - including search tips and tricks - please visit here.  


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