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How to Search Mail in Outlook.com

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You would rather find than search?

In Outlook.com, you need not scour senders and subjects in folder after folder to find one message you seek.

You can send Outlook.com itself off on the search instead with instructions either handily given (in a simple search field) or precisely stated (in a structured search form). Just about instantaneously, it will return with just the emails you need.

(For even more advanced search, you can employ Outlook.com search operators directly in its simple search field.)

Search Mail in Outlook.com

To find an email message in Outlook.com:

  • Click in the Search email field near your Outlook.com's top left corner.
  • Type the terms — names, words or maybe sentence fragments.
    • You can use Outlook.com's suggestions for completing what you have started typing, of course; Outlook.com will suggest email addresses and names as well as a number of search operators:
      • from: for searching email senders,
      • subject: for finding text in emails' "Subject:" lines and
      • to: for searching email recipients.
      • (See
  • Hit Enter.

Search Mail in Outlook.com with Advanced Search

To find email with fields for senders, timespans, folders and more in Outlook.com:

  • Click in the Search email field.
  • Select Advanced search from the menu that appears below Search email.
  • Now choose and enter your desires search criteria:
    • From: — Search emails' senders in the "From:" line.
    • To: — Search emails's recipients in the "To:" line.
      • Note that the To: search field will not find messages with the sought address in the Cc: or Bcc: field.
    • Subject: — Search in emails' subjects.
      • Outlook.com will return all emails that contain all words (if you entered more than one) in the "Subject" line; the words' order does not matter.
      • To find messages with subjects that contain one word or another, you can separate the words with "OR" (uppercase) and group, if necessary, words with parentheses. Quotation marks have no effect.
      • Example: "(train junk) OR bicycle" will find messages that have both "train" and "junk" in the subject and messages with "bicycle" in their "Subject:" line; the latter can also contain "train" and "junk" (in whatever combination) in the subject.
    • Folder: — search the selected folder (or across all folders with All folders).
      • Note that the Deleted and Junk folders will not be included in search.
    • Keywords: — Search anywhere in a message's text, "To:", "Cc:", "From:" and "Subject:" lines.
      • By default, Outlook.com will turn up all messages that contain all the words in the Keywords: field.
      • You can find messages containing only one of two alternatives if you separate them by "OR" (note the uppercase); you can group terms using parentheses (inside which the same rules apply).
      • Example: "trip (labrador OR newfoundland)" will find messages that mention "trip" somewhere and "labrador" or "newfoundland" (or both).
    • Date between: ___ and ___ — search for emails received or sent on or after the first date and before or on the second date.
      • You can leave either field blank to search for all messages sent or received after (and on) or before (and on) a certain date.
      • Enter dates in the form "m/d/yyyy"; April 7, 1983 is "4/7/1983", for example.
      • Outlook.com also understands month names and abbreviations when you use the formats "Month d yyyy" or "d Month yyyy"; April 7, 1983 can be entered as "Apr. 7, 1983", "7 Apr 1983" or, of course, "April 7, 1983".
      • You can leave out the year if you enter day and month in the form "d/m" or the form "d Month". In this case, Outlook.com will assume the current year. April 7 of the current year can be entered as "7/4" or "7 Apr", for instance.
      • You can leave out the day of the month if you enter the month and year in the forms "m yyyy" or "Month yyyy". Outlook.com will assume the first of that month. April 1st 1983 can be entered as "4 1983", e.g., or "April 1983".
      • You can abbreviate the year. For numbers between 0 and and including 30, Outlook.com will assume the 20th, for numbers higher than that (and below 100) the 21st century. For numbers greater than 99, Outlook.com will assume just a leading zero.
        April 7, 1983 can be entered as "4/7/83", for instance, and April 7, 2003 as "Apr 7, 03".
    • Has attachment — include only emails that have files attached.
      • Note that you have to enter at least one other search criterion.
      • To find all messages with attachments, you can enter '@' in the To: field, for example, or use the "has:attachment" search operator.
  • Click Search.

(Updated June 2013)

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