BlogLeon Zucchini6 min read

How to Search for an Exact Phrase in Outlook?

How to Search for an Exact Phrase in Outlook?

Follow this guide to learn how to search for an exact phrase in Outlook

If you work in any kind of desk job, chances are you get a lot of email. And that can make it hard to find things. Are you trying to locate a client email buried in an avalanche of emails? Want to remind yourself of what was in a minutes-of-meeting?

With so much email, scrolling through all the memos and newsletters to find those emails isn’t going to work. Wouldn’t it be awesome if there were a way to narrow down your search find those emails in seconds? You’ll be glad to know… they exist. 🎉

In this guide, we’ll share some handy techniques for narrowing down Outlook search results and in particular searching for an exact phrase.

For additional in-depth detail, check out Microsoft’s Outlook Documentation.

The Outlook search bar

How to search in Outlook?

Here are some good basics to get you started with Outlook search — see here for more detail.

  • When you type keywords into the search box, Outlook will look for emails and attachments that contain them.

  • Outlook expands your search to include terms that start with what you typed, e.g. if you search for a “project” you’ll also get results containing “projects”, “projection”, etc.

  • Outlook will show the first 250 results for your search. If what you’re looking for isn’t included, try narrowing down your search.

How to filter search results in Outlook?

Use filters to refine your search results. Here are some common filters to get you started:

How to filter Outlook results by Folder: Use the dropdown to the right of the search box (see image below) to define where Outlook will search. You can narrow down or expand your search by clicking on the dropdown and including / excluding folders.

Dropdown to filter by folders and other options

How to filter Outlook results by Date: To find emails based on the date they were sent or received, use thebefore: and after: commands. For example, type before:25/07/2022 for results before that date.

How to filter Outlook results by Contact: Use the from: and to: find emails from a particular contact, e.g., type from:David to see all emails from the contact David.

How to Refine Outlook Search Results with Syntax?

You can also refine your search results by learning how to use the search syntax. Understanding what to type in the search box can make the process faster and easier.

And — The ANDkeyword will combine return results that include both search terms (this is also the default behavior if you don’t include it). You can also use it to build more complex searches, e.g. to find all the emails you sent to David and Emilia (i.e. both of them are in the TO field) type to:David AND to:Emilia. Note that the AND has to be in caps.

Search combinations using the AND keyword

OR — The OR keyword lets you combine optional keywords (in case you can’t remember). You can also use it to combine filters. For example, maybe you sent David an email or CCed it to him. In that case, you type to:David OR cc:David

How to Search for Exact Phrase in Outlook?

How to Search for Exact Phrase in Outlook for Windows?

Searching for a specific email in Outlook can be daunting, especially if you have a ton of emails to sift through. Fortunately, Outlook makes it easy to search for an exact phrase. You can search for an exact phrase in Outlook by enclosing it in quotation marks ("").

For example, typing "Meeting minutes CEO" into the search bar in Outlook will return results featuring the exact wording in that order.

If you leave out the quotation marks, Outlook will search for results that contain your individual search terms anywhere in the document, so it’s a good idea to include quotation marks when searching for a specific phrase.

How to search for an exact phrase in Outlook

How to Search for an Exact Phrase in Outlook O365?

To search for an exact phrase in Outlook O365, type it into the search box at the top of the page inside quotation marks ("").

For example, type "Invoicing overview" to see all emails in the current email folder containing that phrase. To search in all email folders, click the dropdown menu and select “All folders.”

How to Search for Exact Phrase in Outlook for Mac?

To search for an exact phrase in Outlook for Mac, type it into the search box at the top of the page inside quotation marks ("").

How to Find Everything with Curiosity

If you’re looking for better search results in Outlook also try Curiosity.

What is Curiosity?

Curiosity is a productivity app that gives you one place to search all your files and apps. That lets you save time and get more done.

Curiosity connects with the tools you already use, including your local folders and cloud apps like Google Drive or Slack. You can use the shortcut-powered command bar to access things quickly and the file browser for deeper searches with advanced filters.

Curiosity — One search for all apps

Unlike other search apps, Curiosity keeps your data safe on your computer and never sends it to the cloud. Curiosity is available for free on Windows and Mac. You can also get a free two-week trial of Curiosity Pro (unlimited sources / search file contents).

Download Curiosity for free and find everything easily.

How to Search for Exact Phrase in Outlook with Curiosity?

The easiest way to search for an exact phrase in Outlook is by using Curiosity. It’s a great extension for Outlook’s native search.

To search for an exact phrase using Curiosity, follow these steps:

  • Download and install Curiosity from the official website

  • Follow this guide to connect Curiosity to Outlook in 4 clicks

  • Type a phrase in quotation marks ("") to find an exact match, e.g., "Ideas marketing July"

With Curiosity you can choose to search the phrase only in Outlook, or across all your apps and folders.

Wrapping Up

Outlook includes powerful search tools. Knowing how to use them can help you save time by quickly finding the information you need. This article explained how to search for exact phrases in Outlook.

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