Ninja Outlook 2013 Search Tricks for Finding Email in Your Inbox

No matter how organized or methodical your Inbox may be, at some point you will find yourself digging through old emails trying to locate one particular item. Chances are probably good that you’re familiar with the Instant Search feature in Outlook.

Outlook Instant Search

For those of you unfamiliar with the Instant Search feature it looks something like this:


This search method can be very effective if you know how to define the search. If a single email has been sent from one person than that email can be easily found by typing the senders name into the search field. If you have received hundreds of emails from that same person and need to locate one particular email from this sender than the search can become a bit trickier.

Contextual Search Tab

The Contextual Search Tab can help with narrowing down the search when there are many emails to sort through. The Contextual Search Tab will open automatically when the search field is clicked. Based on what you’re looking for you can use the tools in the Contextual Search Tab to filter out non relevant emails.


Typically the sender’s name is the first item used to find an email. The Contextual Search Tab than allows you to narrow down the search by selecting other information about the email. Ask yourself the following questions and then use what you can remember to select the appropriate filters.

  • Did the email have an attachment?
  • What was the subject line of the email?
  • Was the email marked as unread?
  • Did you Flag or mark the email as important?
  • Was the email categorized?
  • When did you receive this email?

There are other filters that can be used, but these are the questions you are most likely to remember about the email. After you have selected all the filters that apply, your search field will probably look something like this:


Search Folders

Search folders are another option that can be used to collect emails that meet a certain criteria in one location. A search folder can be very useful if you find yourself searching for the same items repeatedly. The following directions will walk you through setting up a search folder.

Creating a search folder:

  • Open Outlook 2013
  • Select the Folders Tab
  • Click the New Search Folder button.
  • The New Search window will open. There are several options to choose from based on what your search needs are. Select the option that works best for you and click OK.1
  • The new search folder will be located in the left panel under Search Folders. This folder will update automatically as you receive new email that fits this criteria.1


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