When you perform a search in Outlook, it defaults to searching only the current folder. You can change what you’re searching on the fly, but you can also set that default behavior to be something different.

How to Change Search Locations on the Fly

If you’re performing a search in Outlook, it default to searching the current folder (or the current mailbox if you’re in your inbox). If you want to search something different, you can refine your search by popping open the dropdown to the right of your search terms and choosing another option.

It’s simple enough to do, but you can also change the default location.

How to Change the Default Search location

In Outlook, start by switching over to the “File” menu.

On the sidebar that opens, click the “Options” command.

In the Outlook Options window, on the left, switch to the “Search” category.

On the right, in the “Results” section, choose the option that best suits your needs. You can set the default to display results from the current folder only, the current folder or the current mailbox when searching from the inbox (the default setting), the entire current mailbox, or all mailboxes (useful if you have multiple accounts set up).

If you want, you can also enable the “Include messages from the Deleted items folder in each data file when searching in All Items” option. We typically don’t recommend that one because it can really pollute your results, and you can always search the Deleted Items folder separately if you need to. Still, the option’s there if you want it.

When you’re done, click the “OK” button to save your changes.

And remember, no matter what you set the default to, you can still refine any particular search when you need to.

Profile Photo for Hayley Milliman Hayley Milliman
Hayley Milliman is a former Teach for America teacher turned curriculum developer and writer. Over the past five years, she's written hundreds of articles on everything from Microsoft Office to education to history. She's co-author of the book .
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