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Setup search folders

Our tutorial on how to organise emails automatically in Outlook

The Search folders function in Outlook 2003 helps you group emails chosen using particular criteria. It's one of the best things about Outlook; basically, a search folder is a kind of virtual folder (it doesn't really exist as an actual folder, it just looks and works like one) which contains items from real folders chosen using search criteria.

Search folders can contain only messages - not contacts, tasks, appointments or anything else. Apart from that there are no particular limitations.

When Outlook 2003 is first installed, by default it will set up three search folders - for Follow Up, Large Mail and Unread Mail. Follow Up contains any messages that have been flagged for follow-up, Large Mail is anything over 100Kb in size (that can be altered), and Unread Mail is self-explanatory.

You can easily add to this collection, either by selecting more of Microsoft's predefined search folders or by creating your own criteria for including messages in a search folder.

So let's create a new search folder:

The obvious route is the one used here - click on File | New | Search Folder. You can also right-click on an existing search folder and select New Search Folder from the option list.

All these will bring up the New Search Folder screen. This shows the complete list of predefined search folders; click on any of these, and the required search folder will be added to the list of search folders at the bottom of the mail folders window.

Scrolling down to the bottom of this panel brings you to Create a custom Search Folder. Double-click on that and you'll be able to give your new search folder a name, specify when messages should be copied into it, and indicate which folders should be included in the search.

Click on criteria and you will be able to specify a whole range of conditions which must all be met before a message will be copied into your new search folder:

Click OK to return to the Custom Search Folder window and attend to the folders which will be checked by Outlook as it looks for qualifying messages. By default the top-level Personal Folders will be ticked, which means the entire mail store will be included, but you could go for one or more subfolders instead. Click Browse and select the folders to be used.

Click OK to save your settings, and the new search folder is created:

In practice you will probably find it more useful to have these more important search folders appearing right at the top of the navigation pane, so use drag and drop to move them into the Favorite Folders list:

By setting up search folders in this way, you can keep track of emails related to a particular subject, and spend less time finding important items.

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