Today, we’re delighted to share updates in Outlook that bring your search results to the top of your app experience, add top results and relevant suggestions to the Search box as well as new ways to find what you need when you search in Outlook on the go.
We recognize that a powerful search tool is a key to getting things done quickly and efficiently. Productivity is at the core of Outlook and therefore we’re rolling out updates to accelerate and simplify how Search helps you find contextually relevant information, get things done and connect with people.
Over the next few months, you’ll experience these new capabilities in Outlook for Windows:
And these are the updates to Search in Outlook for iOS and Android for your smartphone and tablet:
So let’s dive into the details about these additions to the Search experience in Outlook:
Last year, we introduced a new “Coming Soon” feature that offered customers a way to preview significant, new updates planned for Outlook for Windows. With Coming Soon, customers could try the updates when it’s convenient and provide feedback before the updates become the new default experience in production – at which time Coming Soon would disappear. The first update we introduced with Coming Soon was the user experience design updates. We’re starting to roll out Coming Soon again so you can preview the updates to Search being announced today.
When Coming Soon appears with your monthly Office 365 update for Windows, you can learn more about the changes by tapping the Coming Soon button. It will open the Coming Soon pane that explains the changes giving you the choice to turn them on or wait until another time. Now Coming Soon will introduce several changes to Search at once.
First, the Search box is moving to the top of your email and calendar main canvases. This update aligns with other Office 365 Search experiences and provides a prominent, consistent place across the apps you work with every day. When you toggle Coming Soon on, the Search box will be at the top and the option “Tell me what you want to do” will be combined with Search. With Search at the top, it makes the message list pane a bit more tidy and leaves more room to view additional messages.
Coming Soon is rolling out now to Monthly Channel Targeted customers and will be introduced to Monthly Channel production customers in the coming weeks. This update will be available as a preview for a limited time -- eventually Coming Soon will go away and the changes will become the new default experience, just as we did when we introduced Coming Soon for customers to preview the new user experience updates in Outlook for Windows.
When Search is at the top of your Outlook app you’ll also get the personalized experience of Search Suggestions before you enter your search query. Just one tap into the Search box will show your most recent searches in a drop down menu (people often search for the same things time and again) as well as suggested people and emails addresses of those you communication or meet with most often. These no-query suggestions are only relevant to you.
Additionally, when you enter a key words search query, we’ll provide Search Suggestions that will continue to change and update as you type more letters. Our plan is to gradually add suggestions such as emails, calendar events, files and commands as potential matches.
Then, once you enter the full keyword search query, Outlook curates the results based on the most relevant information in your mailbox and puts those on top of the returned results followed by results in chronological order (Today, Yesterday etc).
And don’t worry, when you enter a specific query, Outlook for Windows will continue to provide you with an option to correct spelling mistakes so your Search results are bang on.
Similar to other Microsoft Search experiences in Office 365, Outlook for Windows commands or Actions will be also be included in your Search suggestions. For example if you type “sign” in the Search box you’ll start to see Actions in the Search suggestions that align with Outlook commands that include “sign” such as signature and design. No need to use “Tell me what you want to do” to find the right command when the new Search box includes the answers in one place. When Search moves to the top of Outlook for Windows, “Tell me what you want to do” will no longer be in your simplified or classic ribbon.
Today Search in Outlook mobile automatically surfaces your top Contacts, Files and other Upcoming events information without entering a query. What if what you need is not there with a single tap on the Search icon? Top Results are also coming to your keyword search in Outlook for iOS and Android, just double tap the Search icon to go directly to the keyword search box. Sometimes the most recent results aren’t most relevant. With Top Results we curate the three best results and show them to you at the top of your list, regardless of when they were sent. You’ll still be able to see the rest of the email results in date order and filter them for attachments. Top Results in Outlook for iOS and Android should start to roll out early in the new year.
The Outlook mobile Search experience continues to evolve. Recently we added Discover to your Search experience in Outlook for iOS, powered by Microsoft Graph. This feed uses machine learning to provide quick access to Office 365 documents that are popular among people close to you in your organization.
Today, we also announced Meeting Insights in Outlook for iOS and Android. With all these updates, we plan to simplify how your Search results show up in Outlook mobile. We’re pleased to announce a new experience to make it easier to find what you need and navigate with tabbed results. This new orientation to Search in Outlook mobile is designed to make it easier to flip through your keyword search results. With one query, the results are organized across Top Results, Mail, Events and Contacts tabs to make it faster to locate the relevant information you’re looking for. Tabbed results should start to roll out early in 2020. [Update December 3, 2019: Tabbed results will roll out first in Outlook for iOS in early 2020. Plans for Outlook for Android will follow.]
In case you missed the announcement Microsoft made this summer in partnership with Samsung, we updated the Outlook for Android tablet experience with a three-pane view for viewing your folders, message list and reading pane all at once. To take advantage of the extra tablet surface we also released the ability to see your keyword Search results in 2 panes so that you can see more results at once. Similarly, last week we announced enhancements in Outlook for iOS with the Split View in iPadOS as just one of the many Outlook capabilities we deliver across the devices in the Apple ecosystem. This update will also give you the ability to open multiple windows at the same time, including Search, in Outlook for iOS on the iPad.
For those who love Groups in Outlook for Windows, you’ll be excited to learn about advanced email Group Settings option which will be available on your simplified ribbon and rolling out by the end of 2019. And we know you’ll be delighted about the ability to drag and drop emails from your message list to your Groups folder as well as having Microsoft Information Protection sensitivity labeling extend to your Group – both coming early in 2020. Learn about these updates and more about Office 365 Groups at this Microsoft Ignite session BRK2056.
Microsoft Ignite is an exciting time where you can learn about updates and things to come. In addition to the enhancements in Search and Calendar in Outlook mentioned here, we also have news to share about the new Outlook for Mac for Insider Fast community and updates that make Outlook for iOS and Android a gold standard for secure communications in the enterprise. Also, don’t miss what’s new in AI in Outlook for iOS with Play My Emails which brings you a new way to manage your inbox.
We love hearing from our customers so please share your feedback about all these updates by providing feedback in app or any time at on uservoice.com.
Thank you to everyone who has provided feedback here, through Coming Soon in Outlook for Windows and other communication channels. With your feedback in mind, we’re adding functionality to further accelerate and simplify how Search in Outlook helps you find contextually relevant information quickly and efficiently. As the default experience moves Search to the top of the Outlook for Windows app in the coming weeks, we’re rolling out the following updates:
To respond to requests for support of complex Search queries, we introduced a customizable Advanced Search experience. This provides you with instant access to more filtering options where and when you need them as opposed to adding more commands to Search on the Simplified Ribbon. We are still exploring ways to make the Advanced Search more discoverable but for now, simply click on Current Mailbox once you’ve clicked into in the Search box. If you choose to use Find options instead of keyword Search, we’ve added more Filter Email options to the Simplified Ribbon and if you want to use the Search options on the ribbon instead of the suggestions or the Advanced Search, you can quickly access it without the Advanced Search form overlay by simply hitting the escape key or Enter after you clicked in the Search box.
The Search box is moving to the top of most of the Microsoft 365 the apps and services and over time the search suggestions will also offer a consistent and coherent experience. However in Outlook, rather than keeping Search centered, we used dynamic positioning and sizing to align it to be closer to the results in the message list. Better yet, we suggest that you use Search with the customizable Simplified Ribbon, controlled with the chevron on the far right, to bring your search results even closer.
Based on feedback about the new Search experience in Outlook as well as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, we extended the area that can be used to click and drag the window to include the Search box area. “Click and hold” virtually anywhere across the top blue header, including the Search box while it’s in an inactive state, will allow you to drag and reposition the Outlook window to your preferred location.
Our goal is the make Search even more powerful. The telemetry data shows that by turning off the experience of automatically changing search results as you type, users were 28% more successful finding what they need in the search suggestions. By waiting until the users finish their typing and pressing enter, the results were more accurate, the experience felt less distracting and we improved accessibility of the feature.
These Search at Top updates are included as part of the Microsoft 365 Apps version 2004, however there are other areas we plan to update and will roll out in future releases:
"Right click and copy paste": We are working quickly to add this capability back to the Search box and plan to have it in an upcoming release.
"Search scope options": Based on feedback that changing scope is an extra click away and a common enough scenario, we are actively working on a new scope selection drop down that will be on the left of the Search box as seen here:
As a sneak peak, you can also check out the experience in Outlook on the web and click on the chevron left of the search icon.
Thank you for your continued feedback.
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