What are MS Outlook Search Folders & How to Create a Custom One

Previously, we have elaborated on how a MS Outlook user could create rules to check the incoming emails and filter or direct them to specific folders (based on the customized rules). However, you may have some specific requirements that are not covered by folder rules. Or you may not want to move a group (or type of message) to an entirely different folder but still want a separate view for them.

MS Outlook intelligently covers such requirements under a feature known as Search Folders. Such folders are virtual folders and do not really contain or store your emails. They just create a view according to the rules defined and show the messages which match that rule.

Search Folders

By default, a Search Folder always contains views like Categorized Mail, Large Mail and Unread Mail. You may want to create some more like For Follow Up, With Attachment etc. Let us see how to do that.

Steps to Create a View under Search Folder

You can select a view from a list of standard rules or even customize end to end rules or user based standards.

Step 1: Right-click on the Search Folder  for any email box and click on New Search Folder.

New Search Folder

Step 2: Select the type of Search Folder that you want to create. Folder types listed under first three sections have internal standard rules (their names pretty much define them).

Search Folder Type

In this guide we will expand on creating a custom folder (last option). So, select that and click on Choose to specify rules and view criteria.

Custom Search Folder

Step 3: Give a relevant name to the view. You can change the folder that will be checked for emails to be shown under the view. Then click on the button for Criteria  to define rules of your choice.

Choose Name Folder

Step 4: In the Messages tab you can enter some keywords which the system would search in emails and in the field that you choose. As you see in the image (below) you may also define From and Sent To fields, define timelines and more.

Set Message Criteria

Step 5: You may now navigate to More Choices  and include more rules like category, read/unread emails, with/without attachments, importance, size and more.

More Choices

Step 6: Need more choices? Navigate to Advanced  and click on Field. Select a criteria, define a condition and a value.

More Criteria

Finally, click on Add to List to see your entry appear. You can add multiple such entries.

Advanced Settings

Step 7: Click on Ok and save your settings. Try sending a test email and check if it works. If it doesn’t you must have messed up with the rules. So you might need to revisit them.

Note: Remember, if you delete emails on the Search Folders then they get removed from their original location as well. But if you remove a Search Folder, the emails associated with them are still intact in their original locations.


How useful do you think Search Folders are to you? Are you going to use them in combination with other rules that you already have?

I have quite a few created for myself. They really help me organize things one step further and keep quick note of different types of emails that I need to attend to.

Last updated on 03 February, 2022

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