If you need to locate an item in a folder, Outlook offers two Find commands: a simple Find command that you can access through the standard toolbar and an Advanced Find command that requires more effort but can yield more exacting results.

The Contacts folder offers a very convenient means of finding stray contact information. In the Find a Contact text box (you can find it on the Standard toolbar), enter a name or an email address and press Enter. If Outlook can find the name or email address, you see the person's Contact Information.

Searching in the Find pane

Do you think "pain" instead of "pane" when you hear that the Outlook windows are composed of several panes — the Navigation pane, the Reading pane, and so on? As if you aren't already in enough pain, you conduct simple searches in the Find pane. Follow these steps to conduct a simple search in the Find pane:

1. Click the Find button in any window.

You see a Find pane.

2. If you need to, tell Outlook which folders to search by opening the Search In drop-down menu and making a choice.

Choose one of the options on the menu or select Choose Folders and choose a folder name in the Select Folder(s) dialog box. You can search more than one folder by opening this dialog box and selecting folders.

In mail folder searches, Outlook searches the text in messages, as well as the subject of the messages. If that kind of search produces too many messages to look through, open the Options menu on the Find pane and unselect Search All Text in Each Message. This way, Outlook searches messages' subject only, and fewer messages appear in the search results.

3. Enter what you're searching for in the Look For text box.

4. Click the Find Now button.

If your search doesn't bear fruit, click the Clear button and start all over, or open the Options drop-down menu and choose Advanced Find to embark on an advanced search. Click the Find button or the Close button on the Find pane to remove the Find pane from the screen.

Conducting an advanced search

Run an advanced search when a simple search doesn't do the job, you want to search by using more than one criterion, or you want to search in several different folders. To start an advanced search, follow these steps:

1. Either press Ctrl+Shift+F or click the Find button.

2. Open the Options menu on the Find pane.

3. Select Advanced Find.

You see the Advanced Find dialog box. If you have a successful search, found items appear at the bottom of the dialog box. You can double-click to open found items in the search results.

4. In the Look For drop-down menu, choose where you want to search.

If the folder that you want to search doesn't appear on the menu, click the Browse button and choose that folder in the Select Folder(s) dialog box.

5. Choose options on the three tabs — Contacts, More Choices, and Advanced — in the dialog box.

The options that are available depend on which folder you search.

6. Click the Find Now button.

The Advanced Find dialog box offers handy commands for dealing with items after you find them. Select the items and choose Edit --> Move to Folder to move the items into a new folder. Choose Edit --> Delete to delete the items. Type Ctrl+click or Shift+click, or choose Edit --> Select All, to select all items in the Advanced Find dialog box.