For Microsoft Outlook users, one quick and easy way to find your stored Email messages is by using Outlook Search Terms. It is a simple, fast, and powerful way to find your messages!
Have you ever needed to find a message stored in your Inbox.. hmmmm…. well…. somewhere?
Luckily, Email clients have several features that give you the ability to quickly find exactly what you are looking for.
For Microsoft Outlook® users, you can use the little known but simple, flexible and powerful “Outlook Search Terms”.
An Email processing best practice is to use only a few, high-level folders to store your Email messages.
Then, when you need to find a message, use the power of your system’s Email Search feature.
Don’t waste time storing messages in complex folders:
- Email research has found that most Emails stored in folders are never referenced again.
- It takes a large amount of time and effort to create and maintain complex folder structures.
- For every message, you need to decide exactly in which folder to store it… hmmm…where should I put it?
- Then you need to find that specific folder in your labyrinth of folders… click.. click.. click.
- Sometimes, you may also need to create a new folder that doesn’t exist yet… more wasted time.
- And some messages can potentially be classified to fit into multiple possible folders… so which one do you choose… even more wasted time.
Instead, make just a few high-level folders for all of your messages.
Then, rely on the power of Outlook Search to locate messages when you (very rarely!) need to find them again.
Most people are familiar with the Search Box at the top off the Inbox.
But not everyone is aware that by using a few, simple Outlook Search Terms, you can increase the power of that simple-looking Search box.
Outlook Search Terms use the following format:
So what Outlook Search Terms can you use?
Here are some commonly used search terms:
|from:||n/a||messages from a specific name or email address|
|to:||n/a||messages to a specific name or email address|
|cc:||n/a||messages that cc a specific name or email address|
|subject:||n/a||messages containing the search term in the subject|
|about:||n/a||messages with the term anywhere in the subject, body, or attachment|
|hasattachment:||“yes” or “no”||messages that have/do not have a file attachment|
|received:||date||messages received on a specific date|
|attachments:||filename||messages with specific filename attachment|
There are even more terms then these available, but the above are some of the most common and useful.
Now, let’s look at a few examples…
Examples using some of the basic keywords:
|from: Patrick||Any messages that have the word “Patrick” in the from name or Email address|
|to: @acme.com||Any message with “@acme.com” in the to field|
|cc: jane smith||Any message where “jane smith” was on the cc list|
|subject: Acme||Any message with the word “Acme” anywhere in the subject|
|about: Orion||Any message with the word “Orion” in the subject, body, or attachment|
|hasattachment: yes||Any message that has an attachment|
|received: 01/01/2014||Any message that was received on 1/1/2014|
And here is something important to know…
Outlook Search is not case sensitive, so it doesn’t matter if you type in Johnor JOHN or John or JoHn… they all return the same results!
In addition, by default it treats two words as if an “AND” is applied.
So, if you type in “Subject: John Smith“, then it will find messages that contain “John” AND “Smith”, in any order that they may appear in the Subject.
But you can make Outlook Search Terms even more flexible and powerful by adding “Boolean Operators” and “Inequality Operators”.
Outlook Search Terms Boolean Operators:
|AND||Contain both terms|
|OR||Contain either terms|
|NOT||Does not contain that term|
|“phrase”||Exact phrase match of exactly what is inside the quotes, in that order|
|+||Exactly Equal to|
And an important rule for Boolean Operators…
The “AND“, “OR” and “NOT” boolean operators must be CAPITALIZED to work!
Otherwise, Outlook will think they are just another word to search for!
Now, lets look at a few examples using Outlook Search with Boolean Operators and Inequalities.
Boolean and Inequality Examples:
|subject:Paris AND Collage||Any messages with the word “Paris” AND the word “Collage” in the subject, in any order|
|subject: Paris OR Collage||Any messages with the words “Paris”OR the word “Collage”, or both, in the subject, in any order|
|subject: “Paris Collage”||Any messages with the exact phrase “Paris Collage” anywhere in the subject line|
|subject: Paris NOT Collage||Any messages with the word “Paris” but NOT the word “Collage” anywhere in the subject line|
|Sent: > 1/1/2015||Greater Than|
And for your date formatted fields, Outlook is pretty “smart”. It can even understand some common “english-like” terms concerning dates.
Extended date term options:
- today / tomorrow / yesterday
- this week / next week / last week
- this month / next month / last month
- this year / next year / last year
- Monday, Tuesday… Sunday
- January, February…December
And now a few examples…
Examples using the extended date terms:
|received: Yesterday||Messages received yesterday|
|sent: last month||Messages sent last month|
|received: January||Messages received in January of any year|
|sent: Friday||Messages sent on this Friday|
If interested, you can review the complete list from the Microsoft Web Site.
So, there you have it – a quick overview of Outlook Search Terms.
But Outlook Search Terms is quick, easy to use, intuitive, and very powerful, so make sure to try it out. I use it all the time and it saves me a lot of time in finding messages!