Some users prefer to store thousands of emails in their inboxes whilst others ruthlessly delete messages that have been dealt with or forwarded to colleagues. But whether you’re a hoarder or a spring cleaner, all of us struggle to find the email we’re looking for sometimes.

Outlook offers a search bar, which you may have already tried, but did you know it is possible to create more advanced queries using specific search criteria and logical operators?

The following table shows examples of searches you might find useful. The search query syntax, available when the Instant Search feature is enabled, follows this basic form: keyword:your search criteria value. These can be added by clicking on the various items that appear in the Search Tools menu when you place the cursor in the search bar.

For example, from:bill

You can also add logical operators AND, NOT, OR, <, >, =, and so forth to refine your search, and these are demonstrated in the table. Logical operators must be typed in uppercase letters.


Type this To find this
bill Items that contain bill, BILL, biLl or any additional combination of upper and lower-case letters. This instant search is not case sensitive.
bill gates Items containing both bill and gates, but not necessarily in that order.
bill NOT gates Items which contain bill but not gates. Note that logical operators such as AND, NOT and OR must be in upper-case letters.
from:“bill gates” about: “status report” Items sent from bill gates where status report appears in the subject line, body, and attachment contents. Note the use of double quotes so that the search results match the exact phrase within the quotes. You could also search things like; hasattachment:yes to search purely for emails with attachments. You could also search for specific attachments by searching for attahments:document.docx.
subject “bill gates Items whose subject contains the phrase bill gates. You could also search subject:bill gates for items that have bill in the subject line and gates anywhere else in the document.
cc:”bill gates This will search for bill gates on the CC line, you could also search bcc or search for a specific email address.
messagesize:<10 KB Items whose size is less than 10 kilobytes. Note the use of the “less than” comparison operator (<). You could also use the “greater than” comparison operator (>).
received:=1/6/2005 Items that arrived on 1/1/2006. Note the use of the “equals” comparison operator (=). The received search can also be used like this: Relative dates: For example, today, tomorrow, yesterday. Multi-word relative dates: For example, this week, next month, last week, past month, coming year. Days: Sunday, Monday … Saturday. Months: January, February … December.
messagesize:tiny Items whose size is less than 10 kilobytes. You can also search  messagesize:small for items whose size is between 10 and 25 kilobytes, messagesize:medium for items whose size is between 25 and 100 kilobytes, messagesize:large for items whose size is between 100 and 500 kilobytes, messagesize:verylarge for items whose size is between 500 kilobytes and 1 megabyte and lastly, messagesize:enormous for items whose size is larger than 5 megabytes.
from:bill (received:5/5/04 OR received:5/6/04) Items from bill that arrived on either 5/5/04 or 5/6/04. Note the use of brackets to group the dates.
homephone:111-0100 Contacts that contain 111-0100 in the Home Phone field. You could also put other contact fields in front of the number such as pager, businessphone, mobilephone and carphone.
birthday:16/06/1995 Contacts that contain 16/06/1995 in the Birthday field.
street:(458 Sussex Road) Contacts that contain 458 Sussex Road in the Business Address Street field. Note the use of brackets to enclose the address. There are alternative address fields that can be used too search for areas such as, businesscity:london, businesspostalcode:SS6 7HH, homestreet:(458 Sussex Road) and businessaddress:(458 Sussex Road., London, E17 9PF) as well as  homeaddress:(458 Sussex Road., London, E17 9PF).
startdate:next week subject:newsletter Calendar items next week where the subject contains newsletter.
read:no Items that have not been read. You can also use read:false to get the same results.