How to Search Inside a Message in Outlook

Can't find specific text in a message? Here's what to do

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

Finding messages is easy, accessible and reasonably fast in Outlook, but finding text inside a message is more challenging. It can be done, but a few detours are involved.

How to Search Inside a Message in Outlook

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

  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.

Search Inside a Message With Outlook for Mac

To find text within the body of an email in Outlook for Mac:

  1. Open the message you want to search in the preview pane or in its own window.
  2. Press Command + F.
  3. Type the text you seek.
  4. Use the > and < buttons to cycle through results. You can also press Command + G for the next result and Command + Shift + G to jump to the previous one.

How to Disable Focused Inbox in Outlook 2016 for Windows

Outlook 2016 can be a bit challenging because of its Focused Inbox. Your search might be more productive if you disable that default. To turn off the Focused inbox in Outlook 2016 for Windows:

  1. Go to your inbox folder in Outlook.
  2. Open the  View tab on the ribbon.
  3. Click Show Focused Inbox to turn Focused Inbox on or off.

How to Disable Focused Inbox in Outlook 2016 for Mac

To turn Focused Inbox on or off in Outlook 2016 for Mac:

  1. Open your Inbox folder.
  2. Make sure the Organize tab is active on the ribbon.
  3. Click Focused Inbox to enable or disable Focused Inbox.

Your inbox will now include all messages from all senders sorted by date.