I'm coming from a Google Apps setup at my old company to Outlook 2007 at my new company, and I'm trying to make it feel "more like home."

I plan to use Search Folders to handle my Status labels, but the kicker is that I also have a "Finished" category. So, if a message has the category "Next Action" but also has the Category "Finished", I would like it not to show up in the search folder.

Taking the Next Action category as an example, I set up a search folder with the following criteria:

  • Category --> is exactly "S/Next Action"
  • Category --> Doesn't Contain "Finished"

However, this filter seems to be an "or" filter, not an "and" filter. So, I am getting all messages with Next Action, but also all messages that don't have the "finished" category.

What's the best way to remedy this situation?

2 Answers 2


After some time, it appears I've found a solution for my specific situation for now.

The Simple Solution

Query wise, I know I can perform this search using:

category:("S/Next Action" NOT "S/Finished")

But in my case, the solution was a little bit simpler:

  • Create a new Search Folder
  • Under Criteria, in the "More Choices" tab, select "S/Next Action" from the categories list
  • In the "Advanced" tab, Select "Categories" for the field
  • Set the criteria to "Doesn't Contain"
  • Set the value to "S/Finished"

This solution works, but of course it would run into difficulty should the query ever need to grow more complex.

The More Powerful Solution

Thanks to this awesome article, I was able to figure it out. Below are the steps from the article:

Enabling QueryBuilder in Outlook 2007 via a Registry Hack

  • Run regedit in your run command or via Win + R
  • Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\
    • If you have Outlook 2007 navigate to 12.0 folder
  • Right click on Outlook and Add a new key. Name it as QueryBuilder
  • Exit Registry editor.

Creating the Advanced Query

  1. In Outlook, select the "Tools" menu --> "Instant Search" --> "Advanced Find"
  2. Click the "Query Builder" tab (which did not exist before our registry hack)
  3. Define the first criteria
    • Field: "Categories"
    • Condition: "contains"
    • Value: "S/Next Action"
  4. Define the second criteria
    • Field: "Categories"
    • Condition: "Doesn't Contain"
    • Value: "S/Finished"
  5. Select the logical group
    • From the "Logical Group" drop-down, select "AND". This is key to making sure that Outlook enforces all the criteria (which is not normally the case; hence this post)
  6. Set the Scope to of the Search to the Desired Level
    • In the "Look for:" drop-down, select "Messages" (likely already selected)
    • Click "Browse"
    • Make sure all appropriate folders are selected (I chose the entire mailbox)
    • Check the "Search Subfolders" checkbox

Saving the Query as a Search Folder

  • In the Advanced Find window, click "File"
  • Click "Save as Search Folder" and name the Search Folder.


So, there we have it! Problem solved.

  • THIS IS SNEAKY! I tried with Query builder with "Category" contains "S/Next Action" and it didn't work. I tried with "Categories" contains "S/Next Action" and it DID work! Sneaky because if you use Outlook (Field -> All Document Fields -> Category) then it uses "Category" (doesn't work for me) instead of "Categories" (works).
    – Stainsor
    Nov 2, 2016 at 20:13
  • Right click Search Folders and select New Search Folder
  • Select Create a custom Search Folder
  • Click Criteria
  • On the More Choices tab, click Categories and select S/Next Action
  • On the Advanced tab, select Field > All Mail fields > Categories
  • Change Condition: to doesn't contain and enter "S/Finished" using quotation marks
  • If there are multiple categories you want to be excluded, put each in quotation marks and separate with spaces, e.g.: "Category A" "Category B"

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