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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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:
- Click the Folder tab.
- In the New group, click New Search Folder.
- 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.
- 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).
- Click OK.
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.
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 today’s 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:
- In the New Search Folder dialog log choose Create a Custom Search Folder (Figure C).
- Click Choose.
- In the resulting dialog, enter a meaningful name, such as Today’s Mail.
- Click Criteria.
- 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.
- From the dropdown to the right, choose Today (Figure D).
- Click OK three times.
Figure E shows the new folder and as you can see, there are 26 messages in the search folder.
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.
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