Using Search Operators

When a simple search isn't sufficient, try again with search operators

Scrabble tiles spelling out the word search.

 Wokandapix / Pixabay

Outlook and offer a simple search to find certain emails, but when your search is complicated, construct queries using search operators. Search by sender, subject, folder, date, and date range. Or, search for messages with attachments. Then, combine operators and terms using AND and OR and parentheses for precedence and grouping.

Instructions in this article apply to Outlook 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010; Outlook for Microsoft 365, and Outlook Online.

How to Use Outlook Search Operators

To search for emails in Outlook precisely using search operators, enter your search keywords in the Search box. The Search box in Outlook Online is at the top of the page, in the header. The Search box in Outlook desktop apps is above the Message List.

Outlook Online interface showing nothing could be found during a search.

Employ the following search operators to construct a query:

  • subject: — Searches the Subject of all emails for a specified word. Example: subject:test finds emails containing the word test in the Subject.

  • from: — Searches the From line for emails from a specified sender or domain. Example: searches the From line of every email message and finds emails from as well as those from, and other emails that include

  • to: — Searches the To line for emails addressed to a specified recipient. Example: searches the To line of every email message and finds emails addressed to

  • cc: — Searches the Cc line for specified email recipients. Example: searches the Cc line of every email message and finds emails addressed to

  • before: — Searches for emails sent or received before the given date. Example: received<01/01/2019 finds emails that were sent or received before January 1, 2019.

  • after: — Searches for mail sent or received after the given date. Example: received>12/31/2017 finds emails that were sent or received after December 31, 2017.

    Combine before: and after: to find emails sent or received during a specified time period. Example: Received<12/31/2017 >01/01/2019 finds emails sent or received during 2018.

  • date: — Searches for mail sent or received on the given date. Use <, <=, >= and >, to search for dates less than (before) and greater than (following) the given date.

    For received:, specify the date in the form mm/dd/yyyy or use yesterday or last week however, if using for the latter, you have to put it in quotes (received:"last week").

  • folder: — Searches for mail in the specified folder. Example: folder:archive finds emails in the Archive folder.

    This command won't work on

  • has:attachment: — Searches mail messages that have at least one file attachment. Examples: hasattachment:true and has:attachment return all messages containing attachments. 

  • hasattachment:false — Searches only those messages that have no files attached.

  • AND (uppercase) — Combines terms in the search so that both must be present. This is the default if no combination operator is present. Example: cat AND dog displays results that have both the word cat and dog.

  • OR (uppercase) — Combines search terms so that either of the terms or both of the terms are returned in the search results. Example: cat OR dog displays results of either cat or dog.

  • () — Specifies the precedence of search terms. Use parenthesis to specify a date, date range, address, or other information. Example: from:john (received:1/1/19 or received:2/2/19) searches the From line for messages from John that were received on January 1, 2019 or on February 2, 2019.

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