Updated: 2009-04-09

In Microsoft Office Outlook 2007, users can use the Instant Search feature to quickly locate an item, such as an e-mail message, a task, or an appointment; items that match the search are highlighted. Users can filter results by typing additional letters (known as wordwheeling).


This article is for Outlook administrators. To configure Outlook Instant Search options on your computer, see Find a message or item by using Instant Search.

You can lock down the settings to customize Instant Search by using the Outlook Group Policy template (Outlk12.adm). Or you can configure default settings by using the Office Customization Tool (OCT), in which case users can change the settings. The OCT settings are in corresponding locations on the Modify user settings page of the OCT.

To download the Outlook template and other ADM files from the Microsoft Download Center, see 2007 Office System Administrative Templates (ADM) (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=78161).

To customize Instant Search options by using Group Policy

  1. In Group Policy, load the Office Outlook 2007 template (Outlk12.adm).

  2. To customize how results are displayed, under User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Microsoft Office Outlook 2007\Tools | Options\Preferences\Search Options, double-click the setting that you want to set. For example, double-click Turn off wordwheel.

  3. Click Enabled. For hit highlighting color, choose a color from the Background Color drop-down list.

  4. Click OK.

The settings you can configure for Instant Search are shown in the following table.

Instant Search option Description

Prevent installation prompts when Windows Desktop Search component is not present

When Outlook starts, prevents prompting users with a dialog box that asks if users want to download Windows Desktop Search (if it is not already installed). Also removes links in Outlook that allow users to download Windows Desktop Search.

Expand scope of searches

By default, Instant Search in Outlook returns results only from the currently selected folder. This setting expands the scope for Instant Search to all folders in the current module (for example, Mail or Calendar)

Do not display hit highlights in search results

Turns off search hit highlighting.

Change color used to highlight search matches

Selects the background color used for highlighting matches in search results (default is yellow).

Do not include Instant Search functionality for searches

Do not display search results as the user types a search query (turn off Word Wheel functionality).

More information about configuring Instant Search

Instant Search in Office Outlook 2007 works by accessing indexed content; indexing Outlook content results in quicker search results. By default, the text of all unrestricted Outlook items — including attachments — is indexed, a process that starts when Office Outlook 2007 runs for the first time. You can turn off full text indexing, or you can turn off just attachments indexing. Indexing takes place in the background and only when there is extra processing capacity available on the user's computer.

If you install Office Outlook 2007 on a computer running Windows Vista, you can configure searching indexing options for Outlook. You can choose to index only attachments with certain file types. Or you can choose to not index attachments with certain file types, depending on security or privacy concerns.

The following Windows settings determine how Outlook manages search indexing:

  • Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Search\PreventIndexingOutlook

  • Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Search\PreventIndexingEmailAttachments

Encrypted items and items restricted by using Information Rights Management (IRM) are not indexed.

Advanced Find, a feature in earlier versions of Outlook, can also be used in Office Outlook 2007. You can modify Advanced Find options independently from Instant Search options.


If a user's account is changed from Cached Exchange Mode to classic Online mode and if there is a copy of the user's mailbox on the user's computer, search might not work when the user is working offline. In this scenario, search will only work against folders that have Make This Folder Available Offline selected (Tools | Send/Receive | Send/Receive Settings | Make This Folder Available Offline).

Also, there is an issue with Rich Text Format (RTF) file type e-mail messages not being indexed when the following conditions are true:

  • Users upgrade to Windows Vista from Microsoft Windows XP.

  • Then, users upgrade to the 2007 Microsoft Office system from an earlier version of Microsoft Office.

  • Office Outlook 2007 is configured to use the RTF file type for e-mail messages. Alternatively, users receive many RTF e-mail messages.

To resolve this issue, see Microsoft Knowledge Base article 927595: You cannot search RTF e-mail messages in Outlook 2007 (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=124063).

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See the full list of available books at Office Resource Kit information.

See Also