Fixing Misbehaving Outlook Search Folders

Every once in a while, I’ll fire up my laptop and open Outlook 2010.  My Today’s Mail search folder will show me messages from last week, or any date / range other than today.  I’d not been able to figure out how to force Outlook to update the search folder’s index, until today:

How to troubleshoot Search Folders in Outlook 2010, Outlook 2007, and Outlook 2003

The relevant section that solved my problem this morning reads:

  • To manually delete all Search Folders from the information store, click Start, click Run, type outlook.exe /cleanfinders in the Open box, and then press ENTER.
  • After you use the /cleanfinders start up switch, your Search Folders will be deleted from the information store the next time that you start Outlook 2010, Outlook 2007, and Outlook 2003. However, the deleted Search Folders will still appear in Outlook 2010, Outlook 2007, and Outlook 2003 as inactive folders. If you want to continue using these Search Folders, click the Search Folder that you want to use. If you do not want to continue using one of the deleted Search Folders, right-click the Search Folder, and then click Delete.

I was a bit unsure of what would happen, as I thought it would possibly require me to recreate my search folders afterwards, but it does exactly as it says in the post.  The command deletes the data from the information store, but leaves the search folders intact.  Once this was completed, I just clicked on my Today’s Mail search folder, which was in light gray italics, and it updated to contain today’s mail!  Amazing!

New to Outlook? Here are the first steps I took!

We just switched from Lotus Notes to Outlook this week at work.  It’s a pretty big transition, and a much different environment.  I do enjoy having a standalone IM client in Lync, even though it has its own set of quirks.  After getting Outlook 2010 installed, I started comparing it to my old Notes experience.

The first thing I noticed was Outlook’s difficulty in highlighting new messages in collapsed folders.  I use many mail rules to filter messages away from my inbox, and all the folders live under a “Business Critical” folder.  Well, if I have that folder collapsed, I get no persistent marker that there is unread mail sitting below that level!  Notes would at least bold the folders all the way up the hierarchy if there were unread messages below.  Thankfully, Outlook has dynamic “Search Folders” that make this much easier to deal with.  I created a search folder for today’s unread mail, and for mail addressed to anyone on my team.

That brings me to the other major change to my flow, mail rule settings.  After reviewing the rules I had set up in Notes, I found that I could not easily duplicate all of them into Outlook.  In several of my old rules, I had several conditions “OR”ed together, and Outlook can only “AND” different types of conditions.  It’s not a problem if you are filtering on multiples of the same type (from / to / in subject or body / etc.).  The issue arises when there are multiple conditions in different fields that should trigger a rule.

I used to have some rules that would filter based on a list of senders, or on key words contained in the subject or body.  I now have to create multiple separate rules in Outlook to achieve similar results.

Finally, the team calendar view is a much better experience in Outlook.  I constantly found myself creating meetings in Notes just to check the availability of several people at once.  In Outlook I can just add them to the list of calendars to display and check them off down the row.  Now to get the others on my team to set up the view permissions with each other so we can see a little more detail than just free / busy time.