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Using Instant Search in Outlook 2007

Outlook 2007 offers a new search tool, called Instant Search, and it's pretty slick. Earlier versions of the Outlook search feature were painfully slow.

Near the top of the Information Viewer Pane, in the center of the screen, you see the Instant Search box. This box has a little magnifying glass on the right and some text on the left. Click the box and type the first few letters of a word that you want to find. Almost immediately, the Information Viewer screen goes blank, then shows only the items containing the text you entered. For example, if you're in the Contacts module and you type jon, you see only the records containing names such as Jones, Jonas, Jonquil — any word containing the letter combination j-o-n. When Outlook displays the items it found, the magnifying glass is replaced by an X. Clear the search results by clicking the X.

In some cases, searching for a certain group of letters isn't specific enough. For example, you may want Outlook to show just the people named Jones who work for XYX Company. You can create a more detailed search by clicking the double arrow just to the right of the magnifying glass, revealing a group of labeled boxes in which you can search for specific types of information. The exact collection of boxes varies according to which Outlook module you're searching. If you're in the Contacts module, you have choices such as Name, Company, Business Phone, and so on. To find all the Joneses at XYZ Corporation, type Jones in the Name box and XYZ in the Company box; instantly, you're keeping up with the Joneses at XYZ.

If the items Outlook offers don't meet your needs, you can make different choices by clicking the label for each type of information; then you see a list of other kinds of information for which you can search. For example, when you're searching your Contacts List, you can pick City or State to find people in a certain location.

The best way to learn about the Instant Search feature is to try it out. Just type some information into the box to see what you get, then click the X to clear the search results and create a new search.

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