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 followup 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
At the very bottom is an option for a custom search folder that has a infinite amount of customizable criteria that you can add—a great option for power users.
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.
Click on your new Search Folder in order to view its contents.
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.