Microsoft Just Neutered Outlook

Some time in July or August of 2017, our users started having problems with Outlook search. Attempting to search using a “More” field would result in the search term getting stuck in the search field box, and the user has to restart Outlook to get rid of it. I reported this issue to Microsoft via the Office 365 Help tool.

It’s now September 2017, and it appears the “More” fields as well as the Advanced Search are completely missing from Outlook. I spent a good few hours chasing tail with troubleshooting articles and a full Office reinstall to try and get this feature back for some of our users who mysteriously had these features go missing. Other users were not affected. Turns out these search features were removed from Outlook in a recent update that Microsoft rolled out. What the hell?

This is not a nice thing to do to customers who purchased the software with the expectation of being able to use the features it came with. It’s even worse for application developers who have built solutions around Outlook integration and search, which entire companies rely upon. I opened another ticket to find out why the search features were missing and the engineer told me they were not being used by that many customers so they got rid of them…

Outlook search was bad enough with its hit or miss results and the abomination called search indexing, but now we can’t even search at all.

https://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/office/en-US/650900b7-cbfb-4c5f-8bba-469cc9399f89/outlook-2016-advanced-search-button-disappeared-overnight?forum=officeitpro

https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Upcoming-changes-for-Recent-Searches-Advanced-Find-and-Expanded-Find-5df360da-a50d-4203-bd46-fde18c77d736?ui=en-US&rs=en-US&ad=US

UPDATE: I’ve discovered an easy workaround for searching “More” fields, even though this feature has been removed from Outlook. You just need to manually type the “More” field into the main search box, along with the term you wish to search. For example:

[subject]: macaroni

That will search for items where the Subject matches macaroni.

[organizer]: john doe

That will search for items (appointments) where the Organizer matches John Doe.

This also works for custom fields so:

[custom_field]: pasta

Replace custom_field with the name of the custom field. That will search for items where the custom_field matches pasta.

UPDATE 10/3/2017 – A recent auto-update for Outlook has restored the missing search features. Nothing is “new” either. I’m guessing those search features got bugged due to an update, then they released an update to removed the bugged features, then a third update to fix it all. Whatever.

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