Find A Message Or Item With Instant Search

Instant Search helps you quickly find items in Microsoft Outlook. The Instant Search pane is always available in all of your Outlook folders, such as Mail, Calendar, Tasks, and Contacts.

Find an Outlook item

  1. In the Navigation Pane, click the folder that you want to search.
  2. In the Instant Search box, type your search text.
    • Items that contain the text that you typed appear with the search text highlighted.
    • To narrow your search, type more characters.
  3. To widen your search to include all folders, at the end of the search results, click Try searching again.


  • To return the cursor to the Instant Search box, press CTRL+E.
  • When you are finished with the search, you can clear the search by clicking Close Search  next to the Instant Search box.
  • Attachments are searched, but search results from attachments are not highlighted.

Add more search criteria

You can narrow your search by adding criteria. When you click or type in the Instant Search box, the Search Tools tab is created. In the Refine group, a number of criteria options help to make the search more specific.

Note: Search fields that you add are specific to where you are within Outlook, such as Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, Notes, Folder List, or Journal.

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