How to Search Inside a Message in Outlook

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

Screenshot of the Outlook 2016 Ribbon.
Microsoft / All Rights Reserved. 

Finding email messages is easy, accessible and reasonably fast in Outlook. Finding text inside a message is more challenging, but it can be done.

Search Within a Message in Outlook 2019, 2016, 2013, and Outlook for Office 365

To find specific text inside an email in Outlook 2019, 2016, 2013, and Outlook for Office 365:

  1. Open the email message you want to search. On the Format Text tab in the Editing group, select Find.

  2. Enter the word or phrase you want to search for in the Find what box.

  3. Choose Find Next to locate each instance of the word or phrase. Click Find Next again to move to each subsequent instance of the word or phrase. To find all the instances of the word or phrase at the same time, select choose Find In > Main Document.

Find and Highlight Text on the Screen

To visually scan for every occurrence of a word or phrase in an email, you can instruct Outlook to highlight every time a specific word or phrase appears. Although the word or phrase is highlighted throughout the email, the highlighting doesn't show when the document is printed. Here's how:

  1. Open the email. On the Format Text tab and Editing group, select Find.

  2. In the window that opens, enter the word or phrase you want to highlight in the Find What field.

  3. Click or tap Reading Highlight at the bottom of the window to highlight the word or phrase you selected. To turn off the highlighting, click or tap Reading Highlight > Clear Highlighting.

Search Inside a Message in Older Outlook Versions

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 shown in the Outlook preview pane.

  2. Press F4 or click Find in the message's toolbar, assuming the Message ribbon is active and expanded. In Outlook 2002 and Outlook 2003, you can also select Edit > Find from the menu.

  3. Select your search options.

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

While there is also an Edit > Find Next menu item in Outlook 2002 and Outlook 2003, you have to keep the Search dialog open. There seems to be no way to make use of the Find Next command.