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Include subfolders when searching

Instant Search only works on the folder that I’m currently in or on the entire mailbox. I know I’m in the right project folder but it has too many subfolders to do my search on.

Is there some way to make it possible to search the subfolders for the folder that I’m in as well?

Search Subfolders buttonIn Outlook 2007, there is no direct way to do this, but you can make it work via a Search Folder workaround.

Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013 include native support for searching subfolders with Instant Search.

Outlook 2007: Search Folder workaround

You can create a Search Folder that lists all mail from selected folders and their subfolders. Now that all mail is being displayed within a single folder, Instant Search will work on all the subfolders as well.

To create a new Search Folder;

  1. File-> New-> Search Folder…
  2. Select “Create a custom Search Folder”.
  3. Press the “Choose…” button.
  4. Type a name for the Search Folder
    For instance: Project name – all mail.
  5. Press the “Browse…” button.
  6. Deselect the root folder (otherwise you’ll do a full mailbox search)
  7. Select the folder that you want to search subfolders for.
  8. Verify that the “Search subfolders” option is selected.
  9. “OK” yourself out of the open dialogs.

The Search Folder will be created as a subfolder in “Search Folders”.

Outlook 2010 and 2013: Native support for searching subfolders

To include subfolders in your search, click in the Instant Search field to make the Search tab appear and select the “All Subfolders” option in the Scope group.

To directly start a search with this option enabled, you can also use the keyboard shortcut: CTRL+ALT+Z

Outlook 2010 added the much requested "All subfolders" option to Instant Search.
Outlook 2010 added the much requested “All Subfolders” option to Instant Search.


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