Outlook Tip: Simplest way to Improve Windows Outlook Search Results

A lot of people avoid using the Search box at the top of the Inbox in Windows Outlook because it returns too many hits—that makes finding a specific email very hard. If you are consistently frustrated by that, here’s a simple tip. Narrow the search by using the Subject button (see left side of figure below).

This works because very often the keyword we are looking for is in the subject (title) of the email and using the button forces a search in the subject only. The way to do this is simple (step numbers below correspond to numbers in figure above):

  1. Click once in the empty Search box.
  2. Doing that opens the Search Tools Ribbon, find it.
  3. Find and click the Subject button in the Search Tools Ribbon. That inserts a phrase in the Search box.
  4. In that phrase, overtype the selected “keywords” entry with your specific search term and hit Enter.

That’s it!

For a video demonstration of this tip, and to see a lot more similar tips, watch Lesson 3.2 in the Outlook Inbox Ninja Video Course. Also watch Lesson 3.3 there. In fact, there are a ton of good tools described in the whole section 3 of that course, so check it out.


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5 Responses to Outlook Tip: Simplest way to Improve Windows Outlook Search Results

  1. Stu Snooks says:

    How do I get the Refine section added to the Search ribbon? It’s missing from mine.

  2. Michael Linenberger says:

    Stu, it’s hidden until you click your mouse in the Search box, like you are about to start a search. Does that fix it for you? Michael

  3. Pete Davies says:

    Can you get the Search Tools Tab to stay resident please?

    • Michael Linenberger says:

      Pete, no, sorry, it’s always context sensitive. You have to click in the Search box first, before it will appear. A similar example is the Task Tools tab: that tab appears when you click on a task in the To-Do Bar, and then it disappears when you click on an email item. Just the way Outlook works. Michael

  4. Laurie Grade says:

    To customize your toolbar, try this: File ->Options -> Quick Access Toolbar.
    Select “All Commands”, then move down the list to Search by Subject.
    Select “Search by Subject” and then click ADD. Now the Search by Subject icon will appear in your Quick Access ribbon at the top of your screen and you will always have access.

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