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Using Search Folders to Organize Outlook Mail

Email has become a mainstream me

Email has become a mainstream method for communication since it easy to use and messages exchange quickly. The problem with using email as a communication tool is keeping track of all the messages – especially as the number of messages starts to increase. Fortunately, Outlook provides several tools to help manage email messages, one of these tools being Search Folders.

Search Folders provide a method to organize messages based on specified search criteria. Outlook is setup with three search folders by default – Unread Mail, For Follow Up and Large Mail - these are located on the Navigation bar under Search Folders. Additional search folders can be created to display messages based on other criteria such as:

  • Messages with attachments
  • Messages from a certain sender
  • Messages marked with a specific category
  • Messages from a certain date

A Search Folder is a virtual folder, that is, messages are not stored within the folder but in the inbox and other folders. The Search Folder acts a viewer to these dispersed messages and displays the messages based on the search criteria.

When creating a Search Folder there are two options available for creating the folder – predefined folder and custom search folder. The predefined folder is based on a set of criteria that has already been defined, while the custom search folder allows for a more detailed search expression.

Once a custom Search Folder is created, the folder is available under Search Folder on the Navigation bar, and can be used anytime. If the custom Search Folder is no longer needed then folder can be removed – the messages are not removed. In addition, if the custom Search Folder does not provide the expected search results the folder can be modified to change the criteria.

Below are the procedures to create, modify and delete search folders.

Create a Predefined Search Folder:

  1. File | New | Search Folder
  2. Select the Predefined Search from the list and click OK
  3. A new Search Folder is created under the Search Folder in the Navigation bar

Create a Custom Search Folder:

  1. File | New | Search Folder
  2. Scroll to the bottom and select Create a custom Search Folder
  3. Click on Choose
  4. Name the Custom Search
  5. Click on Criteria
  6. Define the custom Folder Criteria
  7. Click on OK three times

A new Search Folder is created under the Search Folder in the Navigation bar

Modify a Custom Search Folder:

  1. In the Search Folder on the Navigation bar, highlight the Search Folder to modify
  2. Right-Click | Select Customize this Search Folder
  3. Make changes to the folder
  4. Click on OK

Remove a Custom Search Folder:

  1. In the Search Folder on the Navigation bar, highlight the Search Folder to delete
  2. Right-Click | Select Delete “Name of Folder”
  3. Click Yes on the warning to delete folder or No if it is not the correct folder
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Content copyright © 2015 by Allison Nunn. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Allison Nunn. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Allison Nunn for details.


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