Learn how to fine-tune email search results in Outlook and Outlook Web App (OWA)


Search is a great feature in Outlook (both desktop version and online). Type in a keyword - and voi la, you get all mail that matches your keyword the current folder. Often-times, however, keyword search isn't sufficient to find what you're looking for quickly. When you need to narrow down your search results, use the enhanced search syntax documented in this article.

In addition to searching by keyword, you can search specific properties of a message - pretty much every property is indexed (meaning, available for search). For example, if you're looking for email from Ilya Lehrman that mentions Outlook in the subject, you can type in the following in the search box:

from:"ilya lehrman" subject:outlook

Outlook then will only show you messages from "ilya lehrman" with "outlook" in the subject. If you want to constrain it further, for example, to show you only messages from ilya lehrman with outlook in the subject that has no attachments, type in:

from:"ilya lehrman" subject:outlook hasattachment:no

(since i hardly ever send attachments, on principle, you're not likely to seriously constrain the search this way). When using from:, to:, cc:, bcc: fields you can use either the person's name or email address (partial or full). Sometimes email address will be more precise, as the full name may not be included in the email address field.

You can continue to build on the query, further constraining search results by date:

from:"ilya lehrman" subject:outlook hasattachment:no received:yesterday

Note that date-based fields such as "received" or "sent" can use specific dates (received:=7/29/2012 for messages received just on July 29, 2012), relative dates (received:"last week", received:yesterday, received:"last month"), or common names (received:January, received:Monday).

Similar syntax can be used to search for tasks, contacts, or calendar items. The URL below provides a complete reference of fields and how they can be used in Outlook search:

Have more questions? Submit a request


Powered by Zendesk