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How to search entire specific phrase in Outlook?

For example you remember a phrase and you want to find out the email message which contains this specific phrase. As usual you type the entire phrase in the Search box, but the search result displays all emails which meet the properties that contain just one word or more in the phrase. So you have to spend time to pick the email up among those unwanted emails. In this case, you can apply exact search to filter the emails which you need. In this article, we will show you a trick for searching messages which contain the entire specific phrase in Outlook. After using this method, you will get your ideal message immediately while searching.

Search entire specific phrase in Outlook

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arrow blue right bubbleSearch entire specific phrase in Outlook

1. Get into the email folder which you want to search emails in.

2. Then type the entire phrase with quotes in the Search box.

For example, type “new method for archive” in the Search box.

Then all emails in this email folder which contain the entire specific phrase will be listed out.

If you want to search for all email folders, please click All Mail Items under Search tab.


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  • Auto CC/BCC by rules when sending email; Auto Forward Multiple Emails by custom; Auto Reply without exchange server, and more automatic features...
  • BCC Warning - show message when you try to reply all if your mail address is in the BCC list; Remind When Missing Attachments, and more remind features...
  • Reply (All) With All Attachments in the mail conversation; Reply Many Emails in seconds; Auto Add Greeting when reply; Add Date into subject...
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Comments (20)
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I want to search Outlook for any email that contains the phrase 'Level III'. When I enter "Level III" into the search bar, the search returns all emails that contain Level or III. How do I search for only those emails that contain the phrase "Level III"?
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Try leaving a space between the quotation marks " like this "
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this worked actually. space seems to be the trick.
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Damon rocks! Adding a space after the 1st quote and before the last quote actually works. 10,000 users in our organization say thank you!
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Thank you, Damon! The search tools in Outlook are idiotic, so unintuitive. This really helps.
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It's cute that microsofties think this is possible with their awful tools
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This does not work! I use quotes and Outlook 2013 search KEEPS returning word sin the quotes, it does NOT return only the phrase on the quote. This is beyond frustrating. There must be something happening here. What am i doing wrong?
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Dave, c'mon, Microsoft is not a big firm which could solve problems like this at a glance :) I can't search phrase: C+ I get all the c's... And using quotes doesn't work at all.
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Please list versions of Outlook that this applies to. It does NOT work for Outlook 2013 which is very disappointing because it's pretty much been an industry standard (since Al Gore invented the internet) that enclosing a string in quotes means to do a verbatim search for that exact string. I blame millennial programmers at Microsoft.
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Just confirming that this doesn't work at all in Outlook 2013. Search for "doc fee" gets me emails that do not have both words (let alone that exact phrase the way it is supposed to work). So my search returns hundreds of emails instead of the handful that have my exact phrase. Very frustrating!
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the quotes do not work
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It seems to be fixed in the most recent update of 2013. Quotes worked for me today!
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Does not work
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You can also escape the space char. To search the sentence "this is a new day" you have to type [this\ is\ a\ new\ day], i.e. changing the spaces by \ (a bar and a space). This worked for me in outlook 2010.
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Huh? Try explaining clearly and concisely. This isn't clear.
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Thanks for that clear and concise answer - it worked for me!
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That is incredibly helpful, Raul. The suggestion with spaces works but also results in other incomplete versions of a phrase. Your strategy works brilliantly. Thank you!
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No variation of suggestions above works in 365
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How could one make a search in Outlook for something containing a dot? It seems that for a search like "xxx.yyy", the dot will be replaced by a space character only, leading to the same result like for "xxx yyy".
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doesn't work if you have a special character. I am looking for string starting with CR-. Putting that in as is or with quotes "CR-" I get everything that has a CR.
Just basic searching in other examples not listed here is a nightmare in Outlook and causes hours of extra work trying to find things. Really Microsoft? The search doesn't work?
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