Software

Find Outlook messages quickly with an All Mail search folder

Storing messages in folders makes email easy to organize and manage, but it can hamper searching. To search all your messages at once, create a custom search folder.

Most of us sort email into a number or folders and subfolders, where the structure represents purpose or level of importance. Doing so makes all that information a bit easier to organize and manage. However, occasionally, you need an overall view — perhaps you're searching for email from a specific person or company, but you can't remember where you stored it. Numerous folders inhibit the ability to view all of your mail, as a whole. When you need to work with all of your messages, without stepping through folders, create a special search folder as follows:

  1. In the Mail window, select New from the File menu. Then select Search Folder. Or press [Ctrl]+[Shift]+P.
  2. In the resulting New Search Folder dialog box, double-click Create A Custom Search Folder in the Custom section (at the bottom of the list).
  3. Give the new search folder an appropriate name, such as All Mail.

  4. Click Browse.
  5. By default, Outlook will include Personal Folder and all its subfolders.(If necessary, check Personal Folder and the Search Subfolders option at the bottom of the list.) To omit the Junk E-mail folder, uncheck it. You might want to uncheck more than just the Junk E-mail folder. Sometimes, it's easier to start with all mail and uncheck a few specific folders to exclude.
  6. Click OK twice. When Outlook warns you that it will include all mail in all selected folders, click Yes. That's exactly what you want.
  7. Click OK to return to the Mail window.
Depending on the amount of mail you have, the process of creating this new search folder could take a few minutes. When Outlook is done, the All Mail search folder will contain a shortcut to every message in your Personal Folders (or the folders you selected). Use this search folder for global searches rather than repeating the same search task on individual folders. By default, Outlook sorts the new search folder by the In Folder field, not by folder structure. This process won't include messages in the Inbox, Sent, or Deleted folders, but you can include them by checking them in step 5.

About

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

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