Outlook Search Tips

Have you ever tried to find an email in Outlook only to see no search results, or not the ones you expected? We’ve got some advanced search tips and settings for you.

Outlook Caching: Outlook is configured to cache email locally to keep performance as high as possible. This means it downloads a copy of your mail to the local computer and searches this rather than going out over the internet each time. The size of the local cache impacts performance but can also limit search results. In recent years Microsoft has changed the default setting to cache 1 year worth of email. This means when you view folders or do a search you may see a notice at the bottom of the list of emails stating “There are more items in this folder on the server. Click here to view more on Microsoft Exchange”. The good news is that clicking the link will load additional emails/search results for you almost immediately (depending on the number of emails). You can change the local cache if you don’t want to click the message when looking for older emails, but keep in mind that the larger the local cache is the slower Outlook will perform. The cache setting can be accessed by going to File, Account Settings, Account Settings, then double-clicking on your email address. It is a slider bar that can be set from All to 3 days.

Outlook Web: Many people don’t realize that Microsoft has a web version of Outlook. The advantage to using this version is that you are working directly on your email server, so there is no lag time or limit on the number of emails you see. While it is not yet as fully featured as the Outlook client you have on your computer, it is pretty close. You can access this version by going to portal[.]office[.]com and signing in. You’ll see all email available in your mailbox and your searches will be faster.

Advanced Search Criteria: Outlook has an Advanced Find feature that can be helpful when searching for email. Pressing the Ctrl, Shift, and “F” keys will bring up the Advanced Find window. On the Advanced tab you can use the Field drop down to select any field in Outlook as a search criterion, and you can layer multiple ones together. This could be useful if you’re looking for a specific email sent by someone between certain dates that you know included you as a BCC for example.

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