Outlook’s Search function integrates with the Windows Search Indexer of Windows. As this is an indexed search, it allows for faster search query results than with the traditional built-in Search function in Outlook.
With this integration, you also have access to a lot of special search commands and index fields to refine your search.
While many of the commands and fields can also be found and selected directly within Outlook, not all of them are exposed. Additionally, you’ll have to type these commands or field names manually when searching for Outlook content via the Windows Search box outside of Outlook.
This is a reference guide to the available search operators and search fields and how to use them.
- Other search operators and special values
- Search field reference
To find items based on their primary date field, you can use the
after: command. This usually corresponds with either when the message or other Outlook item was received, sent, created or modified. Behind this command follows a date statement that matches with the date format you have configured in Windows.
When using the date format mm/dd/yyyy
When using the date format dd-mm-yyyy
Aside from the date format, you can also use words to calculate a relative date on the fly or to directly specify a date or month;
- Direct searches relative from today;
Today, tomorrow, yesterday
- Combination searches relative from today;
this, next, last, past, coming
week, month, year
thisweek, nextmonth, lastweek, pastmonth, comingyear
- Search for results on a specific day of the week;
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday
- Search for results in a specific months of the year;
January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
You can combine this with years as well;
January2017, December2016, June2014
When using the before: or after: command;
See the Ranges section on how to search for items within a specific date range.
If you are looking for items with a specific size, then you can use the
size: command. When using this command, you should not forget to include the unit of size such as KB or MB.
There are a couple of words that are direct references to a specific size range;
- Empty: 0KB
- Tiny: 0 – 10KB
- Small: 10 – 100KB
- Medium: 100KB – 1MB
- Large: 1 – 16MB
- Huge: 16 – 128MB
- Gigantic: >128MB
To find all files that are exactly 5MB in size (5120KB);
To find all files between 1MB and 16MB;
See the Ranges section on how to search between other size ranges.
To search in a specific date range, you could use both
before: commands but there is a more direct way to do this as well. The same is true for any field that allows to be searched in a specific range such as the size, sent, received and modified fields. For this you can use the following special operators between the command and its values.
|Returns results that are either smaller than or happened before the specified value. The value itself is not included.|
|Returns results that either have the same size or are smaller than or happened on or before the specified value. In other words; the value itself is included.|
|Returns results that are either larger than or happened after the specified value. The value itself is not included.|
|Returns results that either have the same size or are larger than or happened on or after the specified value. In other words; the value itself is included.|
|Return results that have a size between or happened between the specified values. The values itself are included as well.|
Instead of using the two dots, you can also use a combination of the >= and <= operators;
size:>=5MB<=10MB is the same as
To exclude the specified value you can use the > and < operators;
Other search operators and special values
Aside from operators to search through ranges, there are also some other operators and special values available which you can use in your search queries.
If you want to exclude certain search results, you can use the NOT operator;
By default you will be searching with the AND operator which you do not have to specify in your search. You can use the OR operator if you want your search results to also include items for which only a single condition is met;
contents:presentation OR attachment:presentation
[ ] operator / Search for empty fields
If you want to find an item for which a certain value is not set, you can use the square bracket characters;
You can combine this field with the NOT operator to find items for which any value is selected. For instance, to find all items which have a category assigned to it you can use;
Search multiple values
To search for multiple values within the same field, you can separate these values with a comma ( , ) semi-colon ( ; ) or dash ( – ) or enclose them in parenthesis characters ( );
This would return only results for which both specified values are found. If only one suffices, then you’ll have to use the round brackets and the OR operator;
category:(blue OR red)
Search with spaces/Search exact string
In order to search for a string that contains spaces, you’ll have to enclose it by using double quotes;
"Microsoft Office Outlook"
Do not confuse this method with the parenthesis enclosing.
subject:"Microsoft Office Outlook"
This query returns all items that have Microsoft Office Outlook in their subject.
subject:(Microsoft Office Outlook)
This query will return all items that have Microsoft Office Outlook in their subject but not necessarily in that order. This will for instance also return the result; Outlook is part of Microsoft’s Office suite. In other words, it returns any item with a subject which contains the words Microsoft and Office and Outlook.
Search a partial string
You can only search for a partial string if you know the beginning of that string. If you only type the end or middle part of the string, only results that begin with that part will be returned.
For instance, if you were to look for my last name “Sparnaaij”, then typing “sparn” will give the expected results. Only typing “naaij” will not return the correct results.
Using a common wildcard character such as * will not make any difference since wildcards are not supported. As special characters are ignored in general, searching for “naaij” or “*naaij” will return the same results.
If you need to search for a partial string, then you’ll have to use Advanced Find (CTRL+SHIFT+F) within Outlook, select the Advanced tab and enter the following query;
Of course this works the same way when using a different field to search on such as “Subject”.
Search with special characters
As the search index is based on alphabetic characters and numbers only (a-z, 0-9), special characters such as # and / at the beginning of a word will be ignored when doing a search. This means that when you are looking for a certain code such as
#hto123, any result starting with
hto123 will be returned.
If you want to search for a string containing special characters, then you must place the string between quotes. If you do not do this, the special character will be replaced by a space and you’d be searching for the string left from the special character and right from the special character separately;
Search Field Reference
Below you’ll find all the Outlook fields that are being included in the search index. When searching just for a specific word or phrase without specifying a field, all of these fields are included. To search for something in a specific field, you can include the command corresponding to that field. Of course you can combine these with other query commands and operators and also still include words in your query without specifying a field.
from:"Robert Sparnaaij" hasattachment:false received:>lastweek outlook
This will return all items containing outlook in any field but it has to be from Robert Sparnaaij, it should not have an attachment (so the search indexer will not look in any attachments for this query) and it should be received after last week.
These type of queries are particularly useful when you are searching from the Search box in the Windows Start Menu or Explorer Search box. You can also save these queries as templates so you can reuse them later or further narrow down the search with just a single additional query.
To search in Outlook from the Start Menu type;
To search in Outlook from the Explorer Search box, double click on Microsoft Outlook in your user’s Searches folder;
• Start-> click on your username in the top right-> Searches-> Microsoft Outlook
The following e-mail fields can be searched;
|Attachment Contains||attachments, attachment||attachment:|
|Bcc address||bccaddress, bcc, bccname||bccaddress:|
|Cc address||ccaddress, cc||ccaddress:|
|Due date||duedate, due||due:10/15/2016|
|Message Size||messagesize, size||messagesize:large|
|Sent to Another Recipient||requiredattendees||requiredattendees:|
|To address||toaddress, to||toaddress:|
The following contact fields can be searched;
|Business Address||businessaddress||businessaddress:(street, postal code city)|
|Business Address City||businesscity||businesscity:redmond|
|Business Address Street||businessstreet||businessstreet:outlookway|
|Business home page||businesshomepage||businesshomepage:|
(see bug note below)
|Business postal code||businesspostalcode||businesspostalcode:98052|
|Callback phone number||callbacknumber||callbacknumber:555-6789|
|Full Name||fullname||fullname:(Robert Sparnaaij)|
|Home Address||homeaddress||homeaddress:(street, postal code city)|
|Home Address City||homecity||homecity:redmond|
|Home Address Street||homestreet||homestreet:outlookway|
|Home postal code||homepostalcode||homepostalcode:98052|
|Mailing Address||mailingaddress||mailingaddress:(street, postal code city)|
|body:(looking for internship)|
content:(looking for internship)
contents:(looking for internship)
|Other Address||otheraddress||otheraddress:(street, postal code city)|
|Other Address City||othercity||othercity:redmond|
|Other Address Street||otherstreet||otherstreet:outlookway|
|Other postal code||otherpostalcode||otherpostalcode:98052|
Bug note – home page confusion madness:
businesshomepage search field is wrongly mapped to the “Personal Home Page” field of the contact and thus the same as the
webpage search field. However, as the “Personal Home Page” field is the field which is shown on the main contact form (labeled with: Web page address), this probably won’t be a direct issue for most.
The actual “Business Home Page” field is an additional field which can be specified in the All Fields section of a contact and is because of this bug not indexed nor searchable.
The following Calendar fields can be searched;
|Organizer, From||organizer, by, from||organizer:jonas|
|Show Time As||showtimeas||showtimeas:free|
The following Task fields can be searched;
|body:(fill out form)|
content:(fill out form)
contents:(fill out form)
The following Note fields can be searched;
The following Journal fields can be searched;
|Entry Type||entrytype||entrytype:(phone call)|
|Subject||subject||subject:(called for project update)|
Search within attachments
The indexer also indexes any attachment that is included with any Outlook item. This allows you to search within the attachments as well without needing to open them first. There are a couple of commands and tricks to search and work with attachments as optimal as possible;
If you want to search only in items that have an attachment, but not directly want to search within the attachment, you can use;
If you want to search in the attachments but not in the item that has the attachment itself you can use;
If you want to search for an attachment with a specific extension you can use
Of course you can also combine this and search for specific words inside docx attachments;
attachment:(my search words) ext:docx