Searching and Sorting Emails in Outlook 2010

March 20, 2011, By Christian Cawley

With so many email messages and RSS feeds – potentially across multiple accounts – organizing your messages in Microsoft Outlook can prove difficult.

Whether you use folders to store messages or apply categories to your messages, sooner or later you’re going to find that keeping track of who sent what and when is going to be a tough call.

Fortunately, Microsoft Outlook 2010 is flexible enough to allow you to view email accounts and RSS feeds with a variety of different manners, from arranging the layout to finding flagged items. There is also a search tool that you can use to find specific text from a message, such as the name of the sender or the subject line.

Searching and sorting emails in Outlook 2010

Altering the Outlook Layout

Outlook features a selection of layouts that you can use to tailor the experience of viewing and previewing the emails that arrive in your inbox.

On the main Outlook window go to View and find the Layout section. Here you will be able to toggle the following three options

Navigation Pane – this appears by default on the left-hand side of the Outlook window and lists all of your email accounts and RSS feeds. This can be disabled or minimized, and the Favourites section at the top of the view can be disabled. You might also minimize the Navigation pane via the left-facing chevron at the top of the view.

Reading Pane – this can be moved to appear either on the right-side of Outlook or at the bottom, with each option displaying the full email message when an item is selected in the inbox. Additionally it can be disabled, traditionally a way of preventing email-based malware from being automatically loaded (although Outlook 2010 has much stronger security than older versions).

To-Do Bar – referring to the right-most column that appears in Outlook by default, this option can be enabled and disabled or even minimized, while the information it displays – appointments, task list, etc., can be toggled on and off as per your preference.

Sorting Your Emails

When you have a big email inbox you need a way of sorting your messages, and this is also achieved via the View tab in the Arrangement section. By default the inbox is sorted by Date, but with the Arrangement section you can use the various options in the drop down menu to sort messages by sender, recipient, subject, importance, flag or even a pre-set color category.

Selecting any of these alters the view of the inbox, sorting it based on the selected filter, and further sorting can be achieved by clicking the heading; for instance if you choose to sort messages by subject they will be sorted alphabetically, but clicking the heading will sort in reverse-alphabetical order.

Using Outlook Search to Find Specific Messages

Finally, Outlook has a Search feature built-in that can be accessed by typing your search criteria into the Search Inbox field, or pressing CTRL+E. You might enter a sender name to find the message they sent, or type the keyword from a subject line in order to find all messages regarding that subject.

Using the search feature will open the Search Tools > Search tab, which allows you to widen your search to include other folders, messages with attachments, items that are flagged or even to access previous searches.

With all of this in place, you should never be lost in Microsoft Outlook again!

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