Saving Search queries for reuse

For my job, I regularly need to do the same or very similar search queries in Outlook.

Some queries are a bit more complex so redoing them each time is a bit cumbersome.

Is there a way to save my Search queries so I can reuse them later rather than needing to redo them each time?

Unfortunately, you can’t save your Search queries in Outlook. Outlook itself will hold a cache of your past 10 queries but nothing permanent.

There are however a couple of other ways to quickly repeat the same or similar Search queries.

Recent Searches

Recent Searches buttonThe Recent Searches feature comes in handy when you want to repeat a search you just did. Outlook stores up 10 recent searches.

  • Outlook 2007
    Press the little down arrow directly next to the magnifying glass of the Search field to bring up the menu containing Recent Searches.
  • Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013
    Click in the Search field and use the Recent Searches button on the Search tab.

Extra tip: In Outlook 2010 or Outlook 2013, right click on Recent Searches button and choose “Add to Quick Access Toolbar”. You’ll then be able to repeat a search without clicking in the Search field first.

Create a custom Search form

More Search Fields menu buttonIf you find yourself frequently using fields from the ”Refine” group of the Search tab, then it would be quicker to add the fields to your Search form.

In Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013, you can add fields via the More button in the “Refine” group. When you close your Search, these fields will be hidden again but will show up again when you click in the Search field for your next query.

In Outlook 2007, you can get this functionality by clicking on the double down arrows on the right of the Search field or by pressing CTRL+ALT+W.

These fields are quicker to fill out and you can use the TAB button to move between them.

Add frequently used Search fields to your Search form to create queries quicker.
Add frequently used Search fields to your Search form to create queries quicker.

Create a Search Folder

New Search Folder buttonTo really a Search query for reuse, ironically enough, you shouldn’t use the Search field. Instead, create a Search Folder.

  • Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007
    File-> New-> Search Folder
  • Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013
    tab Folder-> New Search Folder
  • Keyboard shortcut

At the bottom of the New Search Folder dialog, you can select to create a custom Search Folder with criteria of your own to create your Search query. A basic example can be found here and a bit more advanced here.

On the Advanced tab, you can select pretty much any field in Outlook to choose from. If you want to do even more complex AND and OR searches, you can enable the Query Builder tab.

Extra tip: After creating your Search Folder, you can still use the Search field to refine the results of the Search Folder. This basically allows you to do a static pre-search for the complex part of your query and still have some flexibility.

Create Custom Views

Custom View buttonCustom Views are often a bit underappreciated feature of Outlook but they are a great help for saving Search queries as well.

Custom Views basically offer you the same filtering opportunities as Search Folders and has the benefit of even saving a sorting order and which columns to display. In addition, they can also be used on Calendar, Contacts and Tasks folders.

To create a Custom View:

  • Outlook 2003
    View-> Arrange By-> Current View-> Define Views..
  • Outlook 2007
    View-> Current View-> Define Views…
  • Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013
    tab View-> Change View-> Manage Views…

To switch between Custom Views:

  • Outlook 2003
    View-> Arrange By-> Current View
  • Outlook 2007
    View-> Current View
  • Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013
    tab View-> Change View

Extra tip 1: In Outlook 2007 and previous, you can quickly change between views by enabling the Advanced Toolbar: View-> Toolbars-> Advanced

Extra tip 2: Custom Views are also available in Search Folders. If you frequently use multiple refinements for your Search queries, you can switch between views to quickly apply or cycle between these refinements. If needed, you can finalize your Search query still via the Search field.

Don’t get stuck just using a single feature, combining them makes them all much more powerful!