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Keeping up with your email, especially if you receive a lot of messages can be difficult. Often, messages off screen and out of sight are forgotten. You might find them a few days later, but that doesn’t help if the message was time sensitive. One way to make sure you see all the messages you receive today is to use an Outlook search folder. It’s an easy way to view all messages you received without all the Inbox clutter. In this article, I’ll show you how to use a search folder to view all the mail received today.

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I’m using Microsoft 365 on a Windows 10 64-bit system, but search folders are available with Outlook 2010 forward. Outlook for the web doesn’t support search folders.

About search folders

An Outlook search folder is a dynamic or virtual folder that provides a view of all messages that match criteria that you supply. The advantage is that you’re not browsing through everything in your Inbox. They are like rules a bit, in that Outlook provides predefined search folders and allows you to create custom search folders.

You might use a search folder to view all unread mail, flagged messages or even messages that contain certain words or phrases. All three situations can be handled in other ways, but search folders let you see everything that matches the criteria away from the busyness of the Inbox.

To get a glimpse of how Outlook search folders work, let’s build a built-in search folder for flagged messages—flagged meaning you plan to follow up with the messages in some way. You could build a view and apply it, but the search folder seems like an easier route.

How to create an Outlook search folder for flagged messages

Whether you’re implementing a built-in or custom search folder, you’ll always start the same way:

  1. Click the Folder tab.
  2. In the New group, click New Search Folder.
  3. In the resulting dialog, you’ll see a few sections of built-in searches. In this case, select Mail Flagged for Follow Up in the Reading Mail (first) section.
  4. If you have more than one mail account, check the Search Mail In control to make sure you’re adding the search folder to the right account (Figure A).
  5. Click OK.

Figure A

Add a search folder for viewing flagged mail.
Add a search folder for viewing flagged mail.

Outlook will add a new search subfolder to the Search Folders folder. Click the new search folder and Outlook immediately starts to search for the most up-to-date list of flagged messages, as you can see in Figure B.

Figure B

Use a search folder to find all flagged messages.
Use a search folder to find all flagged messages.

Many search needs are already built-in, but there’s nothing in the built-in list (Figure A), that specifies today’s mail. Of course, today’s mail will be a completely different set of messages every day.

How to create a search folder for today’s mail in Outlook

To view todays mail, separate from everything else, you’ll need a custom search folder. To get started, repeats steps 1 and 2 from above and then do the following:

  1. In the New Search Folder dialog log choose Create a Custom Search Folder (Figure C).

Figure C

Select the custom folder option.
Select the custom folder option.
  1. Click Choose.
  2. In the resulting dialog, enter a meaningful name, such as Today’s Mail.
  3. Click Criteria.
  4. In this next pane, you’ll find many options for helping you create a custom search folder. In our case, we’ll use the Time controls. Specifically, from the Time dropdown choose Received.
  5. From the dropdown to the right, choose Today (Figure D).
  6. Click OK three times.

Figure D

Specify the criteria, in this case, today’s mail.
Specify the criteria, in this case, today’s mail.

Figure E shows the new folder and as you can see, there are 26 messages in the search folder.

Figure E

I have 26 emails that arrived today.
I have 26 emails that arrived today.

Tomorrow when you click the folder, a new list will be in view. Keep in mind that this task will search other folders, including Sent and Trash. You can delete the folder without deleting its contents, they’re not the real messages, but temporary links to the real ones. However, if you delete an individual message from the search folder, Outlook will move that message from its current folder location to the Trash folder.