Last reviewed on October 1, 2014   —  5 Comments

When you are in Windows you can search for (only) Outlook items from the Start menu or Windows Explorer by restricting the search to Outlook message stores using


Search by item type

To limit the search to a specific Outlook item type, use


Note: The following will work in either Windows Desktop Search or Outlook’s Instant Search

Search by Field Name

In most cases, you can type the Outlook field name (leave out the space in multiple-word field names):


Search by Date

To search between two dates use the following format with any date field:

received:(>1/15/2010 AND <4/15/2010)

To include results from the dates, add an equal sign or use two periods between the dates:

received:(>=1/15/2010 AND <=4/15/2010)
received: (1/15/10..6/15/10)

Search by Item Size

To find messages of a certain size or within a size range use the greater then, less than, and equal signs or two periods:



In addition to greater than (>), less than (<), and equal symbols (=), you can use comma's, AND, or OR between search terms. from:(mary NOT smith) cc:(mary AND sue) to:(mary OR billy)

Natural Language

Search recognizes days of the week (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday), the months (March, April, May) as well as today, tomorrow, yesterday, week, next month, last week, past month, and coming year. You don’t even need to use the space: thisweek, nextmonth, lastweek, pastmonth, comingyear are valid in Instant Search.


  1. Chris Brouwer says

    What's the syntax for a folder with an "empty" name ? I can select this in Advanced Find dialog, but how can I set the filter correctly using VBA ?

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Try "" - if that doesn't work, it might be using NULL. If that doesn't work, check the name using MFCMAPI.

  2. KK says

    It is possible to perform an Instant Search for Subject is exactly "Test subject" and not contains "Test subject"? Or does it require a very long string like subject:"Test subject" AND NOT subject:"Other test subject"

    • KK says

      I may have answered my own question. I see that subject:"Test subject" NOT subject:"Other test subject" produces the correct results in Windows Outlook 2010, but does not work for Mac Outlook 2011. I assume Instant Search syntax differs for the two versions, but the Mac advanced search option has the "is exactly" parameter I was looking for.

    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      Outlook windows also supports 'is exactly' - it's not case sensitive, so it will find upper or lower case usage of the keyword.
      use subject:="test subject"

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