How To Create and Use Search Folders in Outlook 2010

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In Outlook 2010, Search Folders allow you to pull up similar emails across one or all of your accounts with a single click.

In Outlook 2010, Search Folders allow you to pull up similar emails across one or all of your accounts with a single click. Search Folders are similar to smart playlists in iTunes and Windows Media Player and saved searches in other productivity applications. For example, a Search Folder dynamically can show you all unread mail, all mail that’s been flagged for follow-up or all mail from a certain mailing list or sender, etc. Search Folders are incredibly easy to set up and customize. Read on to learn how to do it.

Search Folder for Outlook 2010

Launch Outlook and expand an account or your Outlook data file. At the bottom of each account tree, you’ll notice an icon that says Search Folders.

Outlook 2010 Search Folders

Step Two

Right-click Search Folders in the account that you’d like to apply the search to and click New Search Folder…. If you’d like the Search Folder to be generated from all of your accounts, right-click Search Folders under Outlook Data File.

Outlook 2010 Search Folders

Step Three

Choose the Criteria for your Search Folder and click OK.
Outlook 2010 Search Folders

Outlook 2010 has a number of useful Search Folder presets already. Ones you might want to add include:

  • Unread mail
  • Mail flagged for follow-up
  • Important email
  • Mail with attachments

Some Search Folders require criteria, such as “Mail with specific words.” This is actually one of my favorite types of Search Folders. Select it and Click Choose… to enter the search strings and words to return with your Search Folder.

Outlook 2010 Search Folders

You can enter multiple keywords. Outlook will insert “or” between each one, so an email will show up in your Search Folder if it contains any of the words or strings you choose here.

Outlook 2010 Search Folders

At the very bottom is an option for a custom search folder that has an infinite amount of customizable criteria that you can add—a great option for power users.

Outlook 2010 Search Folders

Step Four

Click OK when you’re done setting up your Search Folder and its criteria. Note: You can change which mailboxes and calendars to search using the drop-down menu at the bottom.

Outlook 2010 Search Folders

Step Five

Click on your new Search Folder in order to view its contents.

Outlook 2010 Search Folders

Note: Search Folders don’t update live—you’ll have to refresh or click them again to re-populate them. For example, if you have an unread mail folder, the messages won’t disappear from the folder as you read them. You’ll have to refresh the folder to have read items removed.  That being said, Search Folders can be a huge timesaver and, in my opinion, are a better way of organizing your emails than assigning them to static folders.



  1. Kilian

    I’ve tried to use search folders, but it isn’t my way to search for mails or contacts! In my opinion a search tool is a lot easier and more convenient…just type in what you are searching for and you get it! For some people the build-in outlook search is enough, but for business reasons I would use a better and more reliable way to search! After I’ve tried several tools, I decided to keep at Lookeen!

    • MrGroove

      Yeah… the build-in Outlook search is actually pretty good however for the searches I perform a lot like Emails from my manager, emails sent/received this week or month or email from a certain vendor, or emails sent to me by our ticketing system, the Search Folders work out pretty nice for me.

      Tell me more about Lookeen, I’ve not played with it. Might need to do a Write-up on it.?

  2. Kilian

    Lookeen is really nice! It is integrated in Outlook and searchs nearly for everything, no matter if pst files or documents on your desktop! Therefore you can search public folders or sharepoints, if you need this. In work-life it could be really helpful! There is just a new version available with realtime indexing!

    I think it is a great idea to write about it!

    • MrGroove

      Hi Kilian,

      Lookeen appears to be a great tool with a lot of nice features over the basic Outlook 2010 search however it’s not a free product and appears to cost $40 after the free 14 day trial. I’ll shoot them an email and see if they would be willing to give me a few free copies to the groovyReaders here!

      Keep an eye out for that.

  3. Philbofm

    I am trying to set up a search folder that will show all unread emails from my exchange account & gmail account. But when I try to follow your instructions and select the Outlook Data File. I do not have the outlook data file as an available option to select. Only each individual accounts can be selected. How do I set up outlook so that I can select the Outlook Data File and then create a search folder that pulls from all accounts?

    • Jeroen

      Just as Philbofm mentioned.
      I too cannot select all accounts and pst-files in my outlook to run a search folder on. I can select each one individually but not all together.
      With a simple “search” I can select all of my folders, but not through “search folders”.
      Any Idea?

  4. iemand kwijt

    obviously like your web site however you have to test the spelling on several of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling issues and I in finding it very troublesome to inform the reality then again I’ll certainly come again again.

  5. Jeroen

    added my email

  6. Maarten

    In step three an ‘or’ is added between the search words. Is there an option to put a ‘and’ so you would look for emails containing both ‘invoice’ and ‘paypal’?

  7. Ashley

    how to get rid of Search Folder? Outlook created Search Folders when I started with this new computer, looking for emails to put them in different folders. I don’t want that at all. How could I keep them without this Search feature?
    I thank you very much for your help

    • Jodha - the do master

      Hello Ashley,

      just rightbutton click on the search folder and hit delete folder in the menu. That should solve your problem.


  8. sujen


    In the above article it is mentioned that search folders appear automatically for every emails box that is configured in the outlook. But it is not the case with my outlook. It does not populate search folders except for the primary account and PST files assosiated to this account. Can you please help me in getting the search folders for all the configured mail boxes as required.

  9. Jeff

    I am trying to create a search folder that lists all Flagged messages, and by that I mean those flagged be me and others, in to one view. I have tried this various ways but can only seem to get one or the other, not both at the same time.

    Here we are currently using Outlook 2007. Can you offer any tips to this problem? Thanks.

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