Outlook Advanced Search/Find – [Complete Tutorial]

Last Updated on May 7, 2023 by Amit Bansal

If you need to search through hundreds of emails to find something in Outlook, the search feature can be a lifesaver.

This is because it saves you from having to scroll through hundreds of emails. However, what happens if the search engine in Outlook stops working when you need it most? 

The advanced search feature in Microsoft Outlook allows you to locate a single message even if you know exactly how to search for it.

This is because you are committed to finding it. So, it cannot be hidden if you are serious about finding it.

Microsoft Outlook consists of two different approaches to finding email messages:

  1. Outlook Advanced Search
  2. Outlook Advanced Find

Outlook Advanced Search & Find function is designed to find buried emails using a combination of inputs.

There are multiple ways to search items directly by attachments, subjects, categories, flags, etc.

Some of the searches like searching email between two dates seem difficult but getting results in the right way always works for you.

In this article, you will learn step-by-step methods of How to search using Advanced Find and Advanced search features and making your special search easy.

How To Use Outlook Advanced Find?

Searching specific emails from the list of numerous emails, primarily searching using the subject, or sender email address, which results in multiple emails, still causes trouble to find the desired email.

Outlook Advances Search creates narrow fennel and produces specified requirements of results.

Let’s understand some basics:

  • Open Microsoft Outlook
  • Place the mouse cursor in the Search Bar. Search Tab appears in the Tab section.
  • Click on Search Tools >> Advanced Find:
Advanced Find Search
  • Advanced Find dialog box opens which consists of tons of options: and consist of three subsections: The Messages tab can restrict your keyword search to specific fields:
Advanced find messages
  • More Choices allows you to do searches on email conditions:
Advanced find more choices
  • And Advanced lets you look at about any field in your mail file to do searches:
Advanced find advances

Let’s Understand How Advanced Find Works?

Begin with what are you looking for, Outlook advance search commences the search process by selecting any of the below options.

  • Any type of Outlook item
  • Appointments and Meetings
  • Contacts
  • Files (Outlook/Exchange)
  • Journal entries
  • Messages
  • Notes
  • Task
looking for advance search

Message Tab

In most, cases the user selects messages, next, you must select the folder/s and click on the browser (in which you like to make Advanced Search), and by default, Inbox is selected.

default Inbox is mentioned advance search

Under the message tab:

  • Search for a word(s): You must enter a specific keyword that you want to search for!
  • Next is in the field: You can select using a drop-down list.
  1. Subject Field only
  2. Subject field and message body
  3. Frequently used text filed

User selection must be extremely specific, you must know the availability of your keyword either in the subject or body.

search for the word advance search

You can Click Find Now, to get the specified search, and can add another filter say:

  • Enter the email address or name of the person to search either in the “From” or in the “Sent To” fields.
  • You can also tick the checkbox and the options accordingly from the drop-down list.
search from and sent to
  • Lastly, select the time frame from the dropdown list.
  1. Any time
  2. Yesterday
  3. Today
  4. In the last 7 day
  5. Last week
  6. This Week
  7. Last Month
  8. This Month
select the time frame from the dropdown list

It may be enough to get desired results, Microsoft Outlook Advanced Search further filters the results:

More Choices Tab

The more choices tab allows users to filter advanced email to the next level.

  • Starting with categories, click on it, the color categories dialog box appears, and select your required category.
Categories advance search
Only items that are
  • Only items with One or more attachments or no attachments, Emails having attachments, or no attachments are easily separated.
Only items with
  • The next options are whose important as cut down your search with importance (High, Low, Normal).
whose important is
  • Most of the users categorize emails with flags:
  1. Are marked completed
  2. Are Flagged by someone else
  3. Have no Flag
  4. Are flagged by me
only items which
  • Finally, size matters if you want to remove heavy-sized emails to enhance the space.
  1. Doesn’t matter
  2. Equals (approximately)
  3. between
  4. less then
  5. greater than
size advance search

These are some of the additional filters/separators users apply while searching emails in Outlook.

Customize Search Criteria and Make Special Searching

Finally, the advanced tab seems isolated but holds tons of options, you can find more criteria to find the specific email.

  • Click on the Advanced tab >> On the define more criteria >> Click Field
  • Which opens a few options, which further expands on clicking on it. (it’s a huge list).
Advanced tab
  • Once you select your criteria, the next options are conditions (which consist of time and spaces).
add to list advanced
  • Click Add to List, the customized search criteria will be added to the Find items that match this box immediately, you can add multiple criteria and click Find Now.

The process will take a few seconds and you can see the results just below the advanced search box.

Outlook has many more built-in search filters; the complete process narrows your search and gives you exact results.

And don’t forget that the power of Advanced Find is that it can combine multiple criteria to really fine-tune your search.

But sometimes injecting numerous criteria results in nothing.

Outlook Advanced Search [Under Search Bar]

It is possible to type a number of phrases into the Search box located at the top of the Outlook window in order to find your emails.

It is possible to narrow your search results to a specific set of words and phrases by using a variety of operators and keywords. In addition, you can search for different words and phrases.

Outlook Advanced Search consists of all the required search parameters just like Advanced Find, you only need to enter the inputs and the result is incredible.

The entire list will be visible when you select all the options from More.

Once you click on the search bar, the search tab in the navigation section appears which consist of multiple options to dig deeper and find specific email message manually, Outlook Advanced Search appears when you click on the downwards arrow available on the right-hand side of the search bar.

Begin with the first options:

Search In: Under this option, initially select the folder you like to search your required email from: you can select

  • Current Folder
  • Subfolder
  • Current Mailbox
  • All Mailbox
  • All Outlook items

Attachments: Next option is attachment, you can either select “Yes”, in case you want your finding with an attachment, or select “No”.

Attachment Contains: You need to enter the text in this section containing the attachment name, in case any text matches the attachment name, you will find the list of email messages containing attachments with similar text.

BCC/CC: If you are wondering to find emails having BCC or CC, specify the email address of the person with the list of emails that will line up.

Categories: There are multiple color categories available, most users mark their email with different color categories to identify the email message, under this option, you can select the color category and find those emails.

Expiry/Due date: These options are not related to a mail folder, Expiry, and due date are relevant to the task section, if you jump to-do list, you will get a list of upcoming and old tasks, and you can select the date or range of time, to search tasks.

Flag Status: This feature is similar to categories, you can easily list out emails that are Unflagged, Completed, or Follow-up flag.

From: It’s a direct input, you must enter the email address or name to find out emails.

Importance: Sort out emails using importance criteria, and select the Low, Normal, or High to find out which emails match the selection.

Body: In case you need to find an email and you only remember some text available in the body of an email message, you can enter that specific text in the body section and hit search, and you will get the email message.

Read/unread: There are numerous methods to filter read/unread emails from the entire list, advanced Search lists out all the emails which are read or unread. In most cases, users use these read/unread options in addition to another filter.

Received: Under this scenario, you can easily enter the start date and end date, the result would be emails fall under entered date range.

Sensitivity: It is really difficult to find emails with sensitivity like Normal, Personal, Private, and confidential, under this option you can set the criteria and find the emails.

Sent: searching for emails sent in a specific time frame, you can find out in multiple ways, Outlook advanced search also provides this feature, you can find out emails sent Today, yesterday, This week, Last week, and so on. It’s more useful if you use this feature with some other segment.

Message size: Finding emails with size is very important in Outlook, although there are a couple of other methods to find emails with size. Finding and removing unwanted emails of a vast size is very helpful to users. You need to enter the size in MB.

Subject: Mostly Subject is the golden parameter to find buried emails in your inbox folder, it is not important to type the complete subject, the partial subject text also gives you related emails.

To: Emails sent to the person, simply enter the name or email address and the entire list of email messages will display.

Alternatively, you can have the Outlook ribbon change to display the Search tab and you will be able to refine your search results by selecting any of the options within the Refine group.

The above sections are used individually or with a combination, once the input matches, the list of emails is lined up for you.

Outlook Advanced Search Todo List

The todo list is one of the segments in Outlook which consists of multiple tasks (upcoming, completed, modified, reminders, etc).

Searching for a specific task always brings hard work and sometimes we are unable to find it, because of the wrong approach.

Outlook Advanced Search helps users to find the desired list of tasks using multiple parameters:

The Outlook ribbon can be changed to display the Search tab so that you can choose any of the options within the Refine group to refine your search results after you click on them, or you can make a change to the Outlook ribbon so that the Search tab is displayed.

Search In: – Begin with you need to select the folder you need to search list of tasks, (Current folder, all task items, all outlook items).

Categories: In this option, you can pick the color category you want in order to find tasks that fall into that category. Most users mark their emails with different colors to identify the email message. Using this option, you will be able to find emails that fall into that color category.

Complete: – Select Yes or No from the dropdown list of completed.

Date Completed/Due Date: – In both cases, you can specify the date range to sort tasks available in the folder.

Modified: – You can list out tasks according to your selection that is modified.

Priority Time and Reminder Time Start date are some of the other parameters you can filter out required tasks available in the Todo list.

Status: – The most important is status, you can list out the task which is (not started, In progress, completed, waiting on someone else, or deferred).

Lastly Subject: – You can find using subject.

If you would prefer, your Outlook ribbon can change to display the Search tab and you will be able to refine your search results using any option within the built-in search filters.

Search Outlook Contact by Name, Company, Email, Address, and More

Searching for a contact from your list is very easy, the best approach is simply to type the name of the person and hit enter, and you will get a list of contacts matching the name.

Outlook advanced search allows you to filter using numerous parameters and find out the specific contact.

While creating a new contact, you need to enter numerous information in the form, which later on helps you to find specific contact from the list.

It is also not necessary or mandatory to insert the entire information while creating a new contact.

Let’s dive in and understand “How Outlook Advance Search” help finds out specific contacts.

Click on the people icon from the left navigation section, which will take you to a list of all contacts.

When you click the search bar, the search tab appears in the navigation section, which provides multiple options for digging deeper and finding specific email messages manually.

By clicking on the downward arrow on the right-hand side of the search bar, Advanced Search Outlook options appear, which consist of a few options, you can enter the inputs in your desired column and find the contacts.

In case you need to dig deeper click on “Add more options“, which brings the “Advanced Search Options” dialog box which consists of numerous options, you can select the checkbox and add advanced search options.

Insert the information in different areas and find your required Contact.

Wrap Up

Several search filters are already built into Outlook, allowing you to find what you’re looking for quickly. To use the built-in filters, click on the Search box.

If you would prefer to use Advanced Search, you can do so by clicking the filter button on the right side of the search box, which is located just under the search box.

Alternatively, you can choose to change the ribbon in Outlook to show the Search tab, where you will be able to refine the search results by selecting any of the options in the Refine group in the ribbon.

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Amit Bansal

Hello, my name is Amit Kumar Bansal, and I am the founder of MailSmartly.com. Through this blog, I focus on Microsoft Outlook, offering insightful and informative content. Additionally, I produce educational videos on YouTube to further enhance the understanding of my audience. visit my YouTube Channel

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