Outlook: Find Emails Easier by Searching All Folders

The search option in Outlook does a decent job searching a single folder. But this limits you if you’re looking for that hard to find email. Here’s how to add more folders to your search.

It’s frustrating when you can’t find an email someone sent you several moths ago. By default, Outlook will only search the Current Folder you’re in. Here you can see in the Search box Outlook is only searching my Inbox.


After doing a search, if there are no results or not the one you want, click Try Searching Again in All Mail Items.

Try Searching ALl

This helps to find the email you’re looking for.


There’s no reason to have to search all of your folders twice though. Here’s how to always search All folders – including Deleted Items in Outlook 2010.

Click the File then Options.


Outlook Options opens. Click Search, then under Results, select All Folders and Include Messages from Deleted Items. Another handy tool I like is having the search terms highlighted so they’re easier to find. Click OK.

include results from

Now, Outlook will always search All Folders and Deleted Messages too. Very handy.

all items

By searching All folders including Deleted Items, you’ll have a better chance at finding those TPS reports that the boss is asking for!

all items results

You can set up the same settings in Outlook 2007 too. Click Tools >> Options.

tools options

The Options window comes up. Click Search Options in the Search section.

Search Options

Now, select Deleted Items and All Folders in the Instant Search Pane.

include folders

If you’re looking for a hard to find email, using these options will definitely help you out.



  1. Keith Larsen - Nebraska State

    February 13, 2012 at 7:51 am

    Using an ALL Documents View to search ALL Folders –
    It seems clunky to ALWAYS search all folders. We teach people to create a new view (Right-Click on Search Folders) and skip the criteria section. Outlooks warns you that All emails we be included in this View – which is exactly what we want.
    We then modify the view to include the Column called – In Folder – so a person knows at a glance if they are filed as expected.

  2. Kathy Walsh

    January 15, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    How do you find out where the file is once you search ALL MAIL ITEMS? We have group mailboxes, and sometimes a file ends up in someone elses’ mailbox and we need to retrieve it. How do we view properties of the mail item to see its current location?

  3. Larry

    March 10, 2023 at 9:02 am

    Doesn’t “All Mailboxes” exclude the current folder? It seems to for me on 2010. Which means you effectively still have to search twice.

    • Steve Krause

      March 14, 2023 at 8:52 am

      Hmm… I don’t think so Larry. “All Mailboxes” should include “Everything” including the current folder.

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