How to Search Inside a Message in Outlook

Can't find a specific word or phrase in a message? Here's what to do

When you show email messages as conversations in Outlook, the conversation thread can become long and complex. If you paste content into new messages, this text may need to be revised or formatted. Finding information in these long messages can take time. Make your job easier and search for text inside the message to find specific information in these long emails.

Instructions in this article apply to Outlook 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, 2007, 2003; and Outlook for Office 365.

Search Within a Message in Outlook

When you want to find specific text in a message, first find the email message that contains the text. Then, use the Outlook Find and Replace tools to highlight the text inside the message.

For Outlook 2019, 2016, and 2013

To find specific text inside an email in Outlook 2019, 2016, and 2013:

  1. Double-click a message, create a new message, reply to a message, or forward a message.

  2. In the message window, go to either the Format Text tab or the Message tab.

  3. In the Editing group, select Find.

    Selecting Find within an email to search text.
  4. In the Find and Replace dialog box, place the cursor in the Find what text box and enter the word or phrase you want to find.

    Entering in search criteria to look through an email in Outlook.
  5. Select Find Next to locate the first instance of the word or phrase.

    Searching through the main document in an Outlook email.

    To find and highlight all the instances of the word or phrase at one time, select Find In > Main Document.

  6. Select Find Next to move to each subsequent instance of the word or phrase.

  7. Select Cancel when you're finished.

For Outlook 2010 and 2007

To find specific text inside an email in Outlook 2010 and 2007:

  1. Double-click the message to open it in its own window.

    You cannot search inside a message that displays in the Outlook preview pane.

  2. Press F4 or click Find in the message's toolbar (the Message ribbon must be active and expanded). In Outlook 2003, select Edit > Find from the menu.

  3. Select your search options.

  4. Click Find Next to find all occurrences of your search terms in the message.

    To use the Edit > Find Next menu item in Outlook 2003, keep the Search dialog box open.

  5. Close the Find dialog box when you're finished.

Find and Highlight Text on the Screen

To visually scan for every occurrence of a word or phrase in an email, instruct Outlook to highlight every instance of a specific word or phrase. Although the word or phrase is highlighted throughout the email, the highlighting doesn't show when the document is printed.

Here's how to show highlighted text in a message:

  1. Open the message in a separate window.

  2. Go to either the Format Text tab or the Message tab.

  3. In the Editing group, select Find.

  4. In the Find and Replace dialog box, place the cursor in the Find what text box and enter the word or phrase you want to highlight.

  5. Select Reading Highlight > Highlight All to highlight all instances of the word or phrase.

    Turing on highlights for the find text command in Outlook.
  6. The text remains highlighted (even after the Find and Replace dialog box is closed) until you turn off highlighting.

    Clearing all the highlights from a find in an Outlook email.
  7. To turn off the highlighting, select Reading Highlight > Clear Highlighting.

  8. Select Close to close the Find and Replace dialog box.