Search is slow or not working properly in Microsoft Outlook

Do you experience this problem when searching in Microsoft Outlook:

  • It can take a very long time to finish searching
  • Searches display incomplete results, the items you are searching for do not display

I have seen this occurring regularly at clients running Windows 7 and Windows 10, as well as different versions of Microsoft Office (2010, 2013 and 2016). Sometimes it occurs after Windows has done updates and sometimes it just starts misbehaving randomly.

I have found that rebuilding the search indexes seems to solve it MOST of the time.

You do this as follows:

Open Control Panel and Indexing Options.


Now click on the Advanced button


and click Rebuild


Click OK on the Rebuild Index dialog box


Note that it may take a few hours – so leave your device on and running with Outlook open. If you do a search before the indexing is complete, your results will be incomplete.

How to setup an Out Of Office automatic reply for Microsoft Exchange mailboxes

Error setting automatic reply in Microsoft Outlook

In some cases you cannot create automatic replies in Microsoft Outlook.

When you click on File and Automatic Replies, you get an error like this one (Your automatic reply settings cannot be displayed because the server is currently unavailable. Try again later.)


How to create your reply in Outlook Web App (OWA)

Use OWA in Internet Explorer (or your favorite internet browser)

Type in the address in your browser and sign in


Click Options (in the top right hand corner of your browser) and Set Automatic Replies …


Type in the reply, select the dates and remember to click Save


Prevent problems and improve performance in Microsoft Outlook by restricting the number of items in your folders

Suggested guidelines for maximum number of items in special folders

Special folders are:


Sent Items



Aim to keep the maximum number of items in these folders below 1,000

Guidelines for other folders

Aim for not more than 5,000

(Note limits exist that are MUCH higher than those suggested above – but these will really help performance and prevent problems)

Having more than 10,000 items in a folder can really impact performance, especially special folders

How do you see how many items are in each folder?

Click on the folder

The number of items is displayed in the bottom left hand corner of Microsoft Outlook in its status bar


How to keep your Inbox and Sent Items small and other tips

Aim for an Inbox of ZERO
Apply this principle to your Sent Items as well

The principles in Getting Things Done by David Allen is also a great resource

If you have a lot of items (10,000+) in your folders, it may be quicker to just move mail older than a few months into folders for each year, or to move mail by category

Delete what you do not need

Empty your Deleted Items

You can also arrange by Size, To or From and then expand or collapse these groups to bulk move or delete items

How to structure your folders

  • Create a folder structure that is simple to understand
  • Use subfolders
  • Archive older things in folders that are named by date (e.g. “2016” or by category “Payments”

Here is an example you can use as a starting point:


Note: Ctrl-Shift-E is the keyboard shortcut to create a new folder

How to rebuild your search index in Microsoft Outlook (which helps if searching in Outlook is incomplete or out of date)

How to do it

Open the Control Panel

(A quick way to open the Control Panel in Microsoft Windows 8 or 10is to right-click on the Start button and select it from the power menu that pops up. For Windows 7 click Start > Setting > Control Panel)

Now access the Indexing Options

Control Panel > All Control Panel Items > Indexing Options


Click the Advanced button


Click the Rebuild button


It will now display the following status message

Click OK


Note: This can take a few hours