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How to Find Old Emails in Outlook: The Complete Guide

How to Find Old Emails in Outlook: The Complete Guide

Outlook, one of the most popular email clients, is widely used by individuals and businesses alike for managing their email communications. Over time, the sheer volume of emails received and sent can become overwhelming, making it challenging to locate old emails.

If you use Microsoft Outlook to manage your e-mail, you may need to find old e-mail messages. This can be difficult if you don’t know where to look or what search criteria to use. It can also be a challenge if you regularly delete your emails. Fortunately, Outlook provides several features and techniques that can help users find old emails quickly and efficiently. In this article, we will explore various methods to assist you in locating older emails and how to find old emails in Outlook and Office 365 using different methods.

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Why Can’t I Find My Old Emails in Outlook?

If you’re an Office 365 user, there’s a good chance that you’re using the Outlook desktop app. And if you’re using Outlook, it’s likely that you’re not seeing all of your emails.

This is because the default view for Outlook only shows emails from the past two weeks. To see old mail, you’ll need to change your view settings.

There are several other reasons why you might not be able to find your old emails in Outlook. One possibility is that you’ve accidentally deleted them. To check if this is the case, go to the Deleted Items folder and see if they’re there. If they are, you can move them back to your Inbox.

Another possibility is that you’ve archived your old emails. Outlook automatically archives emails over a certain age, and you can manually archive emails yourself.

To check if your emails have been archived, go to the Archive folder and see if they’re there. If they are, you can move them back to your Inbox.

How to Find Old Emails in the Outlook Email Client

Methods to find old emails in Outlook

    • Using the Search Function: The quickest and most convenient way to find old emails in Outlook is by using the built-in search function. To access this feature, click on the search box located at the top of the Outlook window. You can enter keywords related to the email you are looking for, such as the sender’s name, subject, or specific content. Outlook will display a list of matching emails based on your search criteria, enabling you to locate the desired message easily.
    • Utilizing Filters: Outlook includes advanced filtering options that allow users to narrow down their search results based on specific parameters. To access these filters, click on the search box as mentioned earlier, and then click on the “Search” tab that appears in the ribbon. Here, you can filter emails based on criteria such as date, sender, subject, or attachments. By specifying the respective parameters, you can refine your search and quickly find the required old emails.
    • Sorting Emails by Date: Sorting emails by date can be an effective way to locate older emails in Outlook. By default, Outlook displays emails in the order they were received or sent, with the newest emails at the top. To reverse the order and display the oldest emails first, click on the “Received” or “Sent” column header. This reordering makes it easier to locate emails from a particular time frame or date range.
    • Using Folders and Subfolders: Organizing emails into folders and subfolders is another useful method to find old emails. By creating folders based on specific categories or projects, you can sort and store relevant emails accordingly. To create a new folder, right-click on your mailbox or an existing folder, select “New Folder,” and provide a name for it. Once the folders are created, you can manually move emails into the respective folders. This way, you can quickly navigate to the desired location and retrieve older emails whenever necessary.
    • Archiving Emails: Archiving emails is an effective way to declutter your inbox while still retaining access to older messages. Outlook provides an auto-archive feature that automatically moves older emails to an archive folder based on specific criteria you define. To enable auto-archiving, go to “File,” then “Options,” followed by “Advanced.” Here, you can set the archival preferences, including the time frame for archiving. Once configured, Outlook will move older emails from your inbox into Archive folder.

Using Search Folders

If you’re using Outlook on your Windows computer, you may search for previous emails in the installed version of Microsoft Outlook that is set up to send and receive Office 365 emails. This method works if you have not already deleted the old mail and data you need to locate.

Outlook New Search Folder

To locate the emails you need, first, navigate to the “Folder” menu tab and click “New Search Folder”. In modern Outlook versions it is enough to click “Search Folders” and then “New Search Folder…” item.

In the “New Search Folder” window, scroll down to the “Organizing Mail” section and click “Old mail”.

Search folder to find old emails in outlook

Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to choose how far back you want to locate data (e.g., two weeks, one month, three months, six months, or a year).

After you make your selection, click “OK”, and the search will begin.

Then, go back to the primary window (that you were on before opening the “New Search Folder” option) to view your results, which will be displayed in a separate folder.

From there, you can drag and drop the email messages into your Inbox (or wherever else you want to store them).

You can also save this search as a custom view that you can use again in the future by clicking the “Save as” button.

As we mentioned, this is not a method for finding email messages that have been deleted permanently. If you want to recover deleted items, you’ll need to learn how to find old deleted emails in Outlook.

Using Advanced Find option of the Search Tools

Outlook equipped with a multi-criteria advanced search feature. This feature was in the quick access in previous versions of Outlook, however, you may need to enable it on purpose if there is no Search tab in your Outlook Ribbon. Here how to do this:

Advanced Find

    1. Right click to Outlook Ribbon and choose “Customize Ribbon” in the list of Options.
      * – alternatively you may use menu File > Options
    2. In the “Choose command from:” list choose the “Tool Tabs” item.
    3. Locate the “Search Tools” header below and click “Search” item.
    4. Click “Add” button.
    5. Finally click “OK” button to save changes.

Now you could see the “Search” tab in the Outlook ribbon. Click it to see the available search options.

Outlook ribbon - Search Tools

You may use the Search Tools option to launch the “Advanced Find” engine where you may search Outlook emails by multiple criteria.Outlook advanced find

Alternatively you may use the Outlook helper (the search field “Tell me what you want to do”) for quick access to the Search Tools or to launch the Advanced Find.
Click into helper field or press Alt+Q shortcut and type in the name of desired option, then click it to launch.

How to Retrieve Old Emails From Microsoft Exchange Server

Microsoft Exchange email services is a popular mail server used by businesses. If you’re an Exchange Server user, you may be able to retrieve old emails from the server itself.

To find Outlook old emails this way, the steps are as follows:

  1. Open Microsoft Outlook and click on the “File” tab.
  2. Then, select “Account Settings”.
  3. Next, double-click on your Exchange account to open the “Change Account” window.
  4. In the “Change Account” window, go to the “More Settings” tab and click on the “Advanced” button. This will open the “Advanced Find” window.
  5. You can search for old emails by date, sender, recipient, subject, or other criteria.
  6. Once you’ve found the emails you’re looking for, you can move them to your Inbox (or wherever else you want to store them).

You may also export Exchange mailbox to PST file.

Check the Cache Exchange Mode

The Cache Exchange mode is a feature in Outlook that stores a copy of your Exchange mailbox on your computer. This can be helpful if you want to access your emails offline or if you want to improve performance.

Outlook account settings menu

However, the Cache Exchange mode can also prevent you from seeing your most recent emails. To check if this is the case, go to the “File” tab and click on “Account Settings.”

Then, double-click on your Exchange account to open the “Change Account” window or select your account name and click “Change…”

Changing Outlook account

In the “Change Account” window, go to the “Advanced” tab and look for the “Offline Folder File Settings” section.

Outlook account settings for Exchange

For Exchange accounts, you can modify the parameters for Cached Exchange Mode, which are only available in that case. Outlook clients on Windows default retain emails on a computer for one year using local storage.

After that, local Outlook client storage is cleared of previous messages. Slide the dial to the right from 1 year to All. Then follow the on-screen instructions to finish configuring and rebooting Outlook, after which the changes should take effect.

After that, your old emails should not be deleted from your computer for three or twelve months.

How to Retrieve Old Emails in Outlook Web Client

If you use the Outlook web app with Office 365, you can find your old email messages in a few ways.

Since some of your old mail will automatically be archived, it is best to start by checking the “Archive” folder. To do this, click on the gear icon in the upper-right corner and select “Mail.”

Then, click on “Options” and select “See All Options.” Next, go to the “Mail” section and click on “Auto Archive Settings.”

From there, you can change how often you want Outlook to automatically archive your emails.

You can also manually archive your emails by selecting the emails you want to archive and clicking on the “Archive” button.

If they aren’t in the “Archive” folder, there is a chance that you deleted them. It is best to check the “Deleted Items” folder next.

If you deleted them and they are in this folder, you can select the emails and click on the “Recover Selected Items” button.

You can also find old emails by searching for them. To do this, click on the search bar and enter what you are looking for.

Change Retention Policies

Retention policies are used to determine how long emails should be kept before they are deleted.

You can change the retention policy if you want to keep your old mail longer.

Exchange retention policies to find old emails in outlook

First, open the Exchange Control Panel by going to “Compliance management.”

Then, click on “Retention Policies.” From there, you can create a new retention policy or edit an existing one.

To configure the new policy, select the “Do not delete items until they are older than” option and enter the number of days you want to keep emails.

You can also choose to have emails deleted after a certain number of days or weeks. Or learn how to stop Outlook from deleting emails in our previous blog post.

Once you have made your changes, click on the “Save” button.

Recovering Old Emails From a Backup

If you made a backup of your Office 365 data before the emails were deleted, you can use that backup to recover your old emails.

To do this, open the “File” tab and click on “Open & Export.”

Then, click on “Import/Export.”

In the next window, select the “Import from another program or file” option and click on the “Next” button.

Then, select the “Outlook Data File (.pst)” option and click on the “Next” button.

In the next window, select the backup file you want to use and click on the “Open” button.

Then, select the mailbox you want to import from the backup file and click on the “Finish” button.

You could also perform a Kernel Office 365 backup. To do this, download and install the Kernel Office 365 Backup & Restore tool.

Once installed, open the tool and select the “Backup” option.

In the next window, select the mailbox you want to backup and click on the “Add” button.

Then, select the location you want to save the backup file to and click on the “OK” button.

Exchange backup

Choose “List all mailboxes” to back up all the mailboxes in your Office 365 account.

Use the desired filters to filter the mailbox items according to your needs and click through the guided process

The backup process will now start. Once it is finished, you will have a PST file that you can use to recover your old emails.

Example, how to find mail from the current year

  1. Open Outlook and go to your Inbox (or any other folder you want to search in).
  2. In the “Search” box at the top of the window, click on it to activate the Search Tools.
  3. Click on “Search Tools” in the “Search” tab, then select “Advanced Find”.
  4. In the “Advanced Find” dialog box, go to the “Advanced” tab.
  5. Click on “Field” > “All Mail fields” > “Received”.
  6. In the “Condition” box, select “between”.
  7. In the “Value” box, enter the date range for the current year. For example, if the current year is 2022, you would enter “1/1/2023 to 12/31/2023”.
  8. Click “Add to List”.
  9. Click “Find Now” to start the search.

Outlook will now display all emails received in the current year.


There are a few different ways you can find old emails in Office 365. Chances are, your old mail is either archived or recently deleted.

However, if you can’t find your old emails, you can try changing the retention policy or repairing deleted messages using recovery software or recovering them from a backup.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Outlook delete old emails?

Whether Office 365 deletes old mail or not depends on how you have Outlook configured. By default, Outlook does not delete old emails, but it does have an option to archive emails automatically after a certain period. If you have this option enabled, your old emails will be moved to an archive folder and no longer appear in your inbox. You can still access them if you need to, but they will no longer clutter up your inbox. Ultimately, whether or not Outlook deletes old emails is up to you.

How long does Outlook keep emails?

This depends on how you have Outlook configured. By default, Outlook does not delete old emails, but it does have an option to archive emails automatically after a certain period. If this option is enabled, your old emails will be moved to an archive folder and no longer appear in your inbox. You can select any time frame for the emails to be archived.

How do I find old emails in Outlook by date?

To find old emails in Outlook by date, open the “Search” tab and click on the “Advanced Find” option. Then, select the mailbox you want to search in and enter the date range you want to search for. Click on the “Search” button, and all the emails from that date range will appear. You can then scroll through the results and find the email you’re looking for.

How do I get Outlook to show all my emails?

If you’re not seeing all of your emails in Outlook, it’s likely because they’re being filtered somehow. To fix this, open the “View” tab and click on the “Show as Conversations” option. This will show all of your emails in a list, regardless of whether or not they’re part of a conversation. If you’re still not seeing all of your emails, a filter may be hiding them. To fix this, open the “View” tab and click on the “Change View” option. Then, select the “All Messages” option from the list of available views. This will show all your emails, even those hidden by a filter.

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Tell me where my old “Sent” emails are on my Hotmail account, for the years August 2004 to mid 2008. I have the “Received” ones, but not the Sent ones. I didn’t delete them, and they are not in Junk or Archive. ALL the emails I sent in this period (which is a few thousand) are gone! This is devastating. Please reinstate them quickly. And reply to me. Thank you

Dear User, I’m sorry to hear about the problems you’re having with your old sent emails. Unfortunately, you have confused us with Microsoft. We don’t have the ability to directly access or restore your emails. I recommend reaching out to Microsoft Support directly. They have the tools and access to help you further. You can contact them through this link:

Please note that Hotmail, now known as, has a policy of deleting emails from accounts that remain inactive for a certain period. If your account was inactive during the period you mentioned, it’s possible that the emails have been permanently deleted.

I hope this information is helpful and I wish you the best of luck in retrieving your emails.

patricia porteous

Is it true that deleting old emails will let your laptop have faster reaction time?

Deleting old Outlook emails can potentially improve the performance of your laptop, but the impact on reaction time may vary depending on several factors. If your laptop has limited storage space and your Outlook mailbox is large, deleting old emails can free up storage and potentially improve the overall system performance. When the storage space is full, it can slow down your laptop. Outlook itself may become slower when dealing with a large mailbox, especially when searching or indexing emails. By deleting old emails, you can reduce the size of your mailbox, which may lead to improved Outlook performance. If your laptop has limited system resources (RAM, CPU, etc.), a large mailbox can consume these resources, potentially slowing down your laptop. By deleting old emails, you may free up system resources, allowing your laptop to allocate them to other tasks and potentially improving the overall reaction time.

However, it is important to note that the impact on reaction time may not be significant if your laptop has ample storage space and sufficient system resources. Additionally, other factors, such as the speed of your hard drive or the presence of other performance issues, can also affect your laptop’s reaction time. Regularly managing your Outlook mailbox by archiving or deleting unnecessary emails is good practice for organization and potential performance improvements.

I used the search older feature to find my old mails, then selected and moved them into appropriate folders (by year) in the newly created PST file. Now my email archive is ready. Old messages were moved to the separate storage file, the main PST file now contains only recent mail. Good article, thank you for these tips.

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How to Find Old Emails in Outlook: The Complete Guide

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