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I've noticed that when I do a search in Outlook 2010, Outlook considers it a match if some of the terms I'm searching for are in a message attachment. I'd like to disable this.

When I search for terms in my email archive, I don't want to see something listed where some of the terms I'm searching for are in an attachment. I only want to see results where everything I'm searching for is in the message itself (or its headers).

How can I do that?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

By default Outlook searches all items in the folder. You can refine your search by using advanced options on the Search tab (appears when you click in the search box).

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Clicking the More button gives you specific fields to search in.

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Even faster, if you know the name of the field you can type it directly into the search box; i.e. subject:foo content:foo. This will only search the fields you specify. FYI, content is the body of the message. There are no spaces between the field, the : and the search term. Place a single space between multiple fields to be searched (like the image below).

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Is there something I can type into the search box to exclude attachment content? Something like "-attachment"? That would be more practical than specifying content+from+subject. –  KnowItAllWannabe Feb 13 '13 at 17:40
You can use hasattachment:no, but it excludes messages with attachments from the search results. I've not been able to find anything which will stop it from searching within the attachments, yet include the message in the search. Here is more information about Learn to narrow your search criteria for better searches in Outlook. –  CharlieRB Feb 13 '13 at 18:04

You can use content:foo. That will narrow the scope of the search to just the content and ignore matches in the attachment.

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Note that this idea had been suggested above. Also, the original question specified that I'd like to search headers, too, not just the body of the message. –  KnowItAllWannabe May 31 '13 at 16:07

I found myself looking for the same solution today, as I am seeing more and more false positives due to this. I'm surprised that there seems to be no way to exclude attachments from searches.

I haven't taken the plunge yet, but I think my solution will be to strip out all of the attachments from emails so they no longer are present to be searched. This will require making sure any needed attachments are located elsewhere, but an email is really not the best place to store an attachment.

Of course, the ability to batch remove attachments also isn't present in Outlook, but there are some utilities online that can be downloaded to do it (some free, some not free). Some even have the ability to automatically save the removed attachments and include a link to it in the original email, which could be very helpful.

Actually, thinking about this, it still won't be an ideal solution, because someday you might want to search for things that DO have attachments. If stripped attachments could be replaced with a tiny placeholder file, that would be better because you could still use "has:attachment" search. But that might be asking a bit much. You win some, you lose some, I suppose. If there was a utility that removed only specified file types (e.g. .doc, .pdf, .xls, but not .png, .gif, etc), then that could be helpful too.

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