Explore Outlook Instant Search Feature

Search feature rendered in MS Outlook helps in instantly finding an item through direct search procedure by providing keywords to the search box. Outlook Search known as "Instant Search" pane is displayed in all the components\ folders of mailbox such as contacts, mails, tasks, calendars, etc. In this section we will discuss about the aspects related to instant search feature such as:

Find an Outlook item through Instant Search

Through advance search algorithms, the Outlook enables searching for a particular content in an instant manner. You don't have to go through all the elements present in the folder to search for a particular item. Instead, you can directly search for the specified component within a folder by providing related keywords. To find out a particular email or any other components from a specified folder, following steps can be used.

For MS Outlook 2007:

  • Click on the folder (for e.g. - emails) from the navigation bar.
  • In the "Instant Search box" enter the related keywords.
  • All the emails with that particular keyword will be displayed in the Outlook panel.

For MS Outlook 2013 & 2010:

  • Click on any folder in Outlook mailbox.
  • In the "Instant Search" pane, enter appropriate keywords.instant search
  • Related email messages will appear in the right panel.

Turn On or Off Outlook Instant Search

Instant search feature of Microsoft Outlook runs on Windows search components. If it is not installed when you open an Outlook 2007, then a download Windows Search Software will prompt up in front of you.

Turn On Outlook Instant Search

To turn on Instant Search of Microsoft Outlook, click enable Instant Search in Search pane. If you don't found this message, then Instant Search is turned on.

Turn Off Outlook Instant Search

  • On the "Tools" menu, click on "Instant Search" then "Search Options"
  • "Clear check boxes" under "Index messages" in the data files

Clearing check boxes will turn off the search functionality but not remove Instant search pane.

Even after turning off the instant search, you can still do a query in Outlook search, although functionality and performance will be reduced.

Turn Off Prompt for Windows Desktop Search Installing

To avoid Windows Desktop Search prompt that every time open in Outlook follow the given below steps:

  • On Tool menu, click Options
  • On Other tab, click Advance Options
  • Know in General setting, clearly show prompts to activate the Instant Search box

Instant Search box doesn't appear if you run Windows Vista or if the system has necessary Windows Search components.

Turn On Instant Outlook Instant Search

Before enabling Instant Search in Outlook 2010, Windows search 4.0 or later versions should be installed on your system. If it is not installed, then you are prompted to download software.

Windows 7: Windows Search 4.0 is by default turned on but if you are not using Instant search then might be the Windows search is turned off. So to enable or disable it follow the given path go to the Control panel, click on Programs, then features, after that set Windows features according to the need. Select Windows Search box.

Windows Vista & its earlier versions: On running Windows Vista Instant Search get automatically enabled on your system. But if you are running the Windows version earlier than Sp2 then you have to download Windows Search 4.0 by following the given path:

  • Click on "File" tab and after that "Options"
  • Then Click Search
  • After that under Search Engine Upgrade, click on Upgrade Search

Turn Off Outlook Instant Search

  • Click on "File" tab and after that "Options"
  • Then Search
  • Under Source choose Indexing Options and click on it
  • Clear check box under index message in data file

Clearing check boxes will disable the search functionality, but not remove Instant Search pane. The text below the Instant Search pane "click here to enable Instant Search" will help you in enabling Instant Search.

Turn Off Prompts to Install Windows Search

To avoid Windows Desktop Search installation box that prompt when you open an Outlook follow the given steps:

  • Click on File tab
  • Then Click Option
  • After that Click on Search
  • Know under Source, to enable Instant Search box clear Show prompt

Add more Search Criteria

MS Outlook search feature is helpful if you need to refine the search keywords or criteria so that it would more likely match the relevant component.

For MS Outlook 2007:

  • Click on the button available with instant search box.open search option
  • Click on "Add Criteria" and select an option from the drop down list. By selecting an option, it will get added to the search criteria.
    add criteria
  • For removing any option from search criteria, click on the button corresponding to that option and select "Remove".
    click on remove

For MS Outlook 2013 & 2010:

  • Click on the "Instant Search" pane and the "Search" panel will open automatically.
  • Go through the "Refine" option to filter the search criterion. select refine tab

Reuse a Recent Search

This feature enables saving time if the user has to search again for a particular item that has been searched in a recent past. By using "Recent Search" option all the search results can be browsed within the panel.

For MS Outlook 2007:

  • Click on the button available with "Instant Search" box.instant search
  • Select "Recent Search" from the list of features.
    recent searches

For MS Outlook 2013 & 2010:

  • Click in the "Instant Search" box, it will open the "Search" tab. open search tab
  • Click on the "Recent Search" tab from the "Search" panel. click on recent searches
  • Search from the list of most recent keywords.

Note: It auto saves maximum of 10 records from the most recently browsed search keywords.There are other features as well that can be used to manage and arrange Outlook search measures. These options are defined in the upcoming section.

"Search Options" Feature:

Selecting this feature, you can filter the search option and can set criteria for getting fast and instant results. For selecting this option:

  • Click on enhance button available with "Instant Search" box.
  • Select "Search Options" from the drop down list.
    search options
  • The following window will appear;
    search options window
  • From this window, you can perform the following mentioned tasks:
    • Set overall search criterion such as the number of results to be displayed in the panel.
    • Apply setting to the "Instant Search" pane related to folders.instant search pane
    • Apply or change the color in which the search results is been highlighted.change highlight


At last, it can be concluded that the Outlook 'Instant Search' feature is helpful to a greater extent, especially when there is a large number of emails incorporated into an inbox, sent items, outbox or any other email folders. It is applicable for all other components of Outlook mailbox such as calendars, contacts, etc. and helps saving user's time by preventing long and time consuming procedure of random search for a particular item.

Bundle offer of Outlook Recovery

live chat

Live Chat

Click on the above live chat button to start live chat online.