Outlook Productivity Tip: How to Create Search Folders

Outlook Search Folders

Outlook Search Folders Menu

Do you feel like you often waste time just searching for emails in Outlook? Did you know that Microsoft understands this pain-point, and created a solution to help? They’re called Search Folders, and by using them, you can greatly reduce the amount of time it takes to locate emails.

Search Folders are virtual folders that you setup in Outlook, which gives you all email items that match a certain pre-defined criteria. You will typically find them located at the bottom of your Folder List in Outlook, under the RSS feed. Just look for Search Folders in your Folder list.

There are probably a few Search Folders already setup, even if you aren’t using them. By default, Outlook comes with three Search Folders: Categorized Mail, Large Mail, and Unread Mail.

Categorized Mail – This Search Folder will display only those email items categorized by Color Category. In order for this predefined search to work, you will have to change the criteria to the Color Category you are using. To change the criteria, right click on the Categorized Mail folder, click on Customize This Search Folder, click the Criteria button, and define the colors you are using for categorization.

Large Mail – Includes all email items larger than 100 KB.

Unread Mail – Includes all email items that are marked as unread.

However, just because these are the default folders doesn’t mean you need to use them this way. Feel free to create your own folders with the criteria of your choosing.

To create new Search Folders, either: a) Right click Search Folders, and click on New Search Folder OR b) Click on Folder on the Ribbon at the top, and then click on New Search Folder.

The New Search Folder screen will appear. Microsoft has compiled a list of common uses for Search Folders. Select your use from the list. If nothing in the list matches your needs, scroll to the bottom and click on “Create a Custom Search Folder.” Input / verify your specific criteria, then click okay.

When the Search Folder is created, it automatically begins processing the request. Depending on the size of the search and your volume of email, it may take a moment or two to process.

That’s all it takes to setup Search Folders. Once setup correctly and in place, you should find that the amount of time it takes you to search your emails is greatly reduced. And, if you later find that you spend lots of time searching for something else, you can always setup another Search Folder.

What do you use Search Folders for? Leave us a comment telling us about it.


Julie Strier is a freelance writer who wants to help you be more productive with your email and Outlook. Email: julie@mybusinesswriter.com. Website:www.mybusinesswriter.com.

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