Searching for Outlook items in Windows 8

Last reviewed on February 26, 2013

Windows 8 logoWith Windows 8 wide availability, many users discovered one of the few major fails in Windows 8:

Windows Search does not include Outlook data. (Plus, Outlook 2013 data is not found in Search in older versions of Windows.)

I know I'm not alone in my disappointment that a feature I fell in love with over the last couple of Windows versions is history. It could find anything, fast. Including email, contacts, messages stuck in the Outbox... I've been singing the praises of the "Start Search" field and teaching users how to limit the results to just Outlook items, only to see the Outlook search capability removed from Windows 8. And no, I'm not talking about the Start button. I can live without the Start button. I want Outlook items in the Windows search results. I liked being able to search for Outlook items without going into Outlook. Other users liked that the index included contents of archive pst files, shared mailboxes and public folders (when cached).

The Windows 8 Search isn't picking up the contents of emails in an Outlook 2007 .pst file. Index properties look correct and I rebuilt the Index. But still no email in the search results.

It's not you, it's not your configuration. It's not just Outlook 2007. It's Windows 8 and all versions of Outlook are affected. The Windows 8 search does not support Outlook items in Charms.

If you upgraded to Outlook 2013 on Windows 7, Start Search won't work. Any Outlook items it finds were indexed when your older version of Outlook was installed and they will not open in Outlook 2013. Rebuild your index to remove the Outlook items from it.

You may be able to find Outlook items in Windows Explorer, depending on your version of Outlook. After the initial search ends, select Search again in, Microsoft Outlook from the Search ribbon. If Outlook is not listed as an option, you'll need to search from within Outlook.

This screenshot is from a computer with Outlook 2013 installed, so Search again in... Outlook is not an option:

search again in...

What are the recommendations for searching archived PST files? I have too much data to load into the current profile. What is the solution?

At this time, the only recommendation is a third party search tool. I have a list at Search Tools for Personal Use but I don't know (yet) which ones work best with Windows 8, or Outlook 2013. (They should all work with older versions.)

Overall, I like Windows 8. It took a couple of months, but I no longer miss Start button. The Windows key is my friend and keyboarding is faster than using the mouse. I pinned my most used applications to the Taskbar so I don't have to drop back to the start screen to open an application. The other major fail? The new Solitaire games are too easy.

Ahmed recommends using StartIsBack, which "essentially recreates the Windows 7 start menu, including Outlook/Onenote search. It will also allow you to completely segregate metro and desktop apps into their respective start menus (so that the Windows 8 Start screen only shows metro apps and the desktop Start menu only shows desktop apps) as well as boot directly to the desktop."



Lookeen enables Outlook users to browse all data in e-mails, contacts, appointments, tasks or notices in a fast, easy and slick way. Relevant information is at the user's fingertips within a few seconds, and search results covering all file attachments, archive and exchange folders is presented in a transparent manner. Now with real-time indexing. Supports Outlook 2003, 2007, 2010 including 64-bit Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013. Version 8.2


Xobni is the free Outlook plugin that saves you time finding email, conversations, contact info, and attachments. Get lightning-fast search and learn more about the people in Outlook through information drawn from around the web. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Salesforce, Hoover's info, and more-all right inside Outlook.

Written by

Diane Poremsky
A Microsoft Outlook Most Valuable Professional (MVP) since 1999, Diane is the author of several books, including Outlook 2013 Absolute Beginners Book. She also created video training CDs and online training classes for Microsoft Outlook. You can find her helping people online in Outlook Forums as well as in the Microsoft Answers and TechNet forums.

If the Post Coment button disappears, press your Tab key.