In my previous post about Stop Filing Emails, I suggested that tools like Outlook Instant Search (and GMail Search) were not sufficiently reliable to allow you to simply store all your emails in one big archive and use search filters to recall on-demand, rather than spending all your time manually filing each and every email into folders.  In this post, I reveal some of the top tricks for using Outlook Instant Search to quickly recall a single email from an archive containing thousands!

Find a message to or from a particular person

You can also use the "to:", "cc:", "bcc:" and "from:" keywords using either a full or partial name or email address like from:"John Smith"
or from:[email protected].

Find a message based on its content

Find a message that has a certain phrase in its subject, body or attachments:
about:"status report"

Find a message based on when it was sent or received

You can find messages that were received in a particular period:

  • received:today
  • received:yesterday
  • received:thisweek
  • received:lastmonth

You can find messages received on, before or after a particular date:

  • received:=4/1/2013   (note the equals sign)
  • received:<25/12/2012    (received before the given date)
  • sent:=>1/7/2012   (sent on or after the given date)

You can find messages received between two dates:
received:&gt;=1/12/2012 AND received:&lt;=lastweek

Find a message with a particular attachment

Find the message with an attachment whose filename or content contains a particular word:

  • attachments:report.docx
  • attachments:"monthly report"

If you don't know the attachments name or content, then you can find messages that simply have at least one attachment:

Putting it all together...

You can use AND, OR, NOT and parentheses to join filters together to refine your results.  Note that logical operators must be in uppercase.

  • Find a message from John Smith about the Clover project received at some point last week:
    from:"John Smith" about:Osprey received:"last week"

  • Find messages received between 1/1/2013 and today:
    received:>=01/01/2013 AND received:<=today (note that "AND" is in uppercase)

  • Find messages received last month from Paul or Bob that had an attachment:
    received:lastmonth AND (from:Paul OR from:Bob) AND hasAttachment:true (note the use of brackets)

  • Find a message received last month from someone called John, but not John Smith:
    from:John AND NOT from:Smith