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Virtually reorganising your emails in Outlook.

You've probably been told to be neat, tidy and organised by filing the emails you save into folders. However what if you can't remember where you filed an email? Or wished you could have all the emails concerning a particular event or project organised in one spot instead of spread throughout several folders? Or perhaps you have received those dreaded 'exceeded mailbox allocation' alerts and must delete some items fast?

There is an Outlook function you have probably ignored that can solve these problems immediately. It's called 'Search Folders'--a handy, time saving tool.

In essence these are a virtual, perpetual "find"; you plug in criteria such as name, email address, or attachments. By virtual I mean it will then go through your entire Inbox (including sub-folders, deleted and sent items) and group them into a new folder.

The Search Folders you create remain, growing in size and content as time passes and as you amass more emails meeting that search criteria. Of course, you can delete them at any time.

You can work with the emails via the Search Folder--answering, deleting, moving them even though they physically live in a different place in your Inbox.

You initially may think "so what"? But upon reflection when you understand they give you the ability to see different groupings of your emails without changing their actual folder location (your organisation of them) in any way, you'll be delighted with the concept.

For example, if you wanted to see all the emails from a particular person or department--or you needed to immediately free up space--instead of individually searching through all your subfolders, inbox and sent items for the large attachments, simply click on Search Folders.


One of the preset folders is Size. Within a blink of your eye, all your emails will be organised into Enormous (over 5MB), Huge (1 to 5MB), Very Large (500Kb to 1MB) and Large (100 to 500Kb).

Where do I find Search Folders?

The icon is directly under your sent items folder.

Three folders are set for you by default: For Follow Up, Large Mail and Unread Mail.

How do I create a Search Folder?

On the File menu, point to New, and then click Search Folder.

Select one of the predefined Search Folders, or select the Create a Custom Search Folder option, and fill in the criteria as appropriate.

Delete a Search Folder In the Navigation Pane, right-click the Search Folder.

Click Delete "Search Folder" (where Search Folder is the specific name of the folder that you want to delete). Customise a Search Folder Right-click the Search Folder that you want to customise and click Customize this Search Folder

By Debbie Mayo-Smith best-selling author and sought-after international speaker. For a free quick tip newsletter, vast collection of 'how-to' articles and other resources to help you work smarter and save time, visit

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Author:Mayo-Smith, Debbie
Publication:NZ Business
Date:Mar 1, 2009
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