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How to mark your emails for maximum searchability

  Man Looking at Emails on a Laptop

The problem with keeping emails in a large archive is that certain messages are found again. So people create an extra folder and then two and then load! Use these techniques instead of folders to organize your archive.

How (and why) does your message tag?

It is recommended to archive only your emails. This is the best way to organize it. Do not waste time dragging messages to folders in your email client. Put everything in an archive folder. For example, in Gmail, just click the Archive button.

But if you have no folders, how do you organize your messages for easy retrieval? The answer is simple: tagging.

The biggest benefit of using tags instead of folders is that you are not forced to put an email in just one folder. Tagging eliminates the need to decide if the manufacturer issue email is placed in a client project in the vendor folder, in the client folder, in the project folder, or in the lessons learned folder. Just add the appropriate tags to the email, and you can easily find them, regardless of whether you want to search for emails about that manufacturer, customers, and more.

If you are moving from a folder-based system For a single archive, tagging is the key to finding things later. You can tag in large quantities. So if you have a folder for a client, you can tag every element there with that client's name before moving it to your archive. That way, you can be sure it's easy to find again.

Best of all, tagging in (almost) any modern email app is easy. Even if you ultimately keep folders, tagging is so useful that we still recommend it.

Categorizing in Outlook

In Outlook, tagging is called "categorizing". You can create and assign any number of categories of colors, and then apply them to all in Outlook ̵

1; emails, calendar events, tasks, notes, and even contacts. This not only makes the search easier, it also highlights your Outlook content with one color. For example, if you create a category for a project and assign it a specific color (for example, purple), you can label each related item with that category. Without reading anything, you know that every purple email, calendar event, task, note, or contact is linked to this project. There are no categories in the Outlook mobile app, so you must categorize it in the client or web application.

When you categorize your emails, you can categorize everything into a single folder by selecting all emails (use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + A), and then select the desired category (s). You can even change the view of your archive folder so that emails are grouped by category, recreating a folder structure. Then benefit from Taggen and folder view.

Labeling in Gmail

In Gmail, tagging is referred to as "tagging" and works on both the web and mobile apps. As in Outlook, you can create as many labels as you want (there is a limit of 5,000 that, according to Google, can cause performance problems, but have few users), and assign colors to them. You can also create filters to automatically mark emails based on the criteria you want.

Labels have become an intuitive and integral part of Gmail, especially because you can not add folders. Be identified and watch as your mailbox becomes a completely different and better place.

Flagging in Apple Mail

Flagging in Apple Mail is referred to as "Flagging." Unlike Outlook, you are limited to the existing seven flags, so there is no escape: Apple has not done very well here. In their defense, however, they push the smart folders hard. Although these are not as easy or fast as tags, there is a system that allows you to group your emails. We treated Smart Folders, and we know they work. Of the three e-mail applications we cover here, Apple Mail is least suitable for a single archiving method.

RELATED: The Best Way to Organize Your E-Mails: Just Archive Them

Let's Search

Whether you have an e-mail client (such as Microsoft Outlook or Apple Mail), a web interface (like Gmail or Yahoo! Mail) or a mail app on your phone, search is your friend. In most cases, one name or one day (or a combination of both) will be enough to find what you are looking for. For example, you can search for "Joe BBQ" to find Joe's email about the barbecue he's hosting next week, or "Project Alpha" to find all the emails tagged "Project Alpha." But there are many advanced – and simple – search techniques that help you find the emails that are a little deeper in the stack of similar results.

Using Outlook Search

The search features of Outlook used to be a bit sketchy, but those times are over. The search in Outlook client, on the web interface or in the mobile app is now lightning fast and accurate. However, the client contains the most powerful search tools. If you have a particularly sophisticated or complex search query, this is the place.

The search box is located above the mail main window and is always available.

 The Outlook Search Box

We discussed earlier how to change the search locations from the current folder to other areas of Outlook. You can also quickly find messages related to the current sender by right-clicking the message in your Inbox, selecting "Find Related", and then selecting "Messages in this conversation" or "Messages from sender".

Outlook finds all previous emails in the conversation or from the sender and displays them.

If you perform the same search regularly, you can create custom dynamic search folders to do the same search each time you open them. These are especially useful for finding new emails with specific keywords or specific properties such as size, attachments or categories.

To perform a more complex search, you can use the Advanced Find option. This is located on the Search tab, which only appears when you click in the search box. On the Search tab, click Search Tools> Advanced Search.


This opens the Advanced Search window, where you can select as many criteria as you want to search.


Use the More Options and Advanced tabs to access additional criteria. The advanced search options are very extensive and use properties that you almost certainly did not know exist. For example, here are the Advanced> All emails fields from which you can select.


Advanced Search allows you to retrieve any emails from your archive. This also applies to complex queries.

Note that by default, when using a Microsoft email account, Outlook syncs only the last 12 months of the email. However, you can change this so that all your emails are taken into account, if you want to use Gmail Search

It's no surprise that Gmail searches both on the web interface and in the mobile app quickly and easily exactly. There are a variety of keywords that you can search for, such as: For example, "from," "to," "new_als," "older_als," "label," etc. Instead of having to remember all this information, the Web Interface provides a drop-down filter that we've already covered in detail.

In mobile devices, you can type your search term in the search field the same way. At the time of writing, the filter drop-down list is not available. You can still go to gmail.com and open your emails when you need an advanced search on the go. There is a full list of Gmail search operators that work in both the web interface and the mobile app. If you master them, you'll be a Gmail boss in no time.

Using Apple Mail Search

Apple Mail does not have the same advanced search capabilities as Outlook, but has one key benefit: Spotlight lets you search for emails. If you are a Spotlight user (and you should be), you can search for emails directly from there. You can also set up smart mailboxes that are similar to the Outlook dynamic search folders.

Between tagging and searching, you should be able to find the most messages in any email app fairly quickly. Outlook is probably the most effective tagging tool because it's not just emails, and it's unsurpassed in Gmail search. Apple Mail may not necessarily compete with both, but although tagging is not very good, search and automatic filtering are pretty good.

Choose the right mail app for you and organize it!

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