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How to Search Mail in Windows Live Hotmail

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I know Fred mentioned that in some mail… but where is that message? Fortunately, Windows Live Hotmail has a built in search engine that can help you find the needle in the haystack.

Search Mail in Windows Live Hotmail

To find emails in Windows Live Hotmail:

  • Type your search term in the Search email field.
  • Hit Enter.

Advanced Search in Windows Live Hotmail

To search Windows Live Hotmail with more precision:

  • Click the Show advanced search button next to the Search email field. (The button sports two stemless arrows pointing downward.)
  • Enter the desired search criterion or criteria:
    • From: — search message senders.
    • To: — search message recipients in the To: field; Windows Live Hotmail will not search the Cc: and Bcc: fields. (See below for searching Cc: recipients.)
    • Subject: — search message subjects.
      • Windows Live Hotmail will search for messages that have all words in the Subject: field. The words do not have to appear in the order entered or as a phrase.
      • You can search for messages with one word or another in the Subject: field by combining them with (uppercase) "OR"; "mail OR email" will find emails with either "mail" or "email" in the Subject: line.
      • Parentheses let you further combine terms.
    • Folder: — search the selected folder or all mail with All folders.
    • Keywords: — search anywhere in the message (including sender, recipients and subject; excluding attachments).
      • Windows Live Hotmail will search for messages that contain all words automatically.
      • You can find messages that contain one word or another by combining them with "OR" (case matters; "or" will find the word 'or').
      • Combine terms further with parentheses.
    • Date between ___ and ___ — find only mail received or sent after (and not including) the first and before (and including) the second date.
      • Enter dates as "mm/dd/yyyy"; June 15, 2003 is "06/15/2003", for instance, or "6/15/2003" or "6/15/03" or "6/15/3".
      • You can also use month names and their abbreviations; in this case, reverse month and date: June 15, 2003 can be "June 15 2003", for example, or "Jun 15 2003".
      • If you leave out the year, Windows Live Hotmail will assume the current year; June 15 of the current year can be entered as "6/15", "15 June", "15 Jun" or "15 6".
      • If you leave out the day, Windows Live Hotmail will assume the first of the given month.
    • Has attachment — If checked, return only messages that have files attached.
  • Click Search.

Windows Live Hotmail Search Operators

To find mail precisely in Windows Live Hotmail, you can also use the following search operators in the Search email field:

  • from: — Search senders.
  • to: — Search To: lines.
  • cc: — Search Cc: fields.
  • subject: — Search emails' Subject: fields.
  • folder: — Search the specified folder.
  • before: — Find messages sent or received before (and including) the specified date.
  • after: — Find messages sent or received after (and not including) the specified date.
    • See above (under Date between ___ and ___) for date formats.
  • has:attachment — Return only messages that include attachments
  • OR — combine search terms so that results include one, the other or both.
  • AND — combine search terms such that all results include both terms; by default Windows Live Hotmail uses AND.
  • () — group search terms for precedence.

Search Mail in MSN Hotmail

To find messages in MSN Hotmail:

  • Select Mail from the top Hotmail navigation bar.
  • Click the Find button.

In most cases, searching only the address fields and the subject line will yield good results (unless, of course, you know that you are looking for something only mentioned in an email message's body).

Search results will come up like a MSN Hotmail folder, and you can operate on the messages as you are used to from the MSN Hotmail inbox.

(Updated June 2012)

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