How to find folder paths in Outlook mailboxes

We get a lot of questions asking how to search for folders or get folder paths in Outlook. Unfortunately, it's not possible to search for folders and when you search for contents of a folder, Outlook doesn't show the folder path in the search dialog, only the name of the folder the item is in.

However, you can use Window's or Google's Desktop Search utility to find an item and the search window will show the folder path, in folder_name\subfolder\subfolder\subfolder format, often completing the search within seconds. With Windows Desktop Search installed by default with Windows 7 and required for Outlook 2007/2010's Instant Search, more users have this tool and can find the folder path without asking us how. (Desktop Search does not work in Outlook 2013 or Windows 8.)

If you search using Windows Desktop Search, you'll get the folder path. You can search for only Outlook items from the Start menu or Windows Explorer by restricting the search to Outlook message stores using store:mapi. To limit the search to a specific Outlook item type, use kind:email, kind:tasks, kind:notes, kind:journal, kind:meetings, or kind:contacts

Additionally, you can use VBA to find the folder and even open Outlook to the folder. See Folder: Get the path for a VBA sample by Michael Bauer

Lorin Pruett saw a tip from 2005 about Finding Folder Paths and wanted to share his solution that works in any version of Outlook, using native Outlook features. While this is not the most elegant solution and is somewhat convoluted, it works.

Find the Folder name

rambler has this suggestion if you just need to see the name of the folder:

In Outlook 2010 or Outlook 2013, look on the File tab, next to the Move to Folder command button.

Folder name next to Move to Folder command

In all versions, add the In Folder field to the view. However, this method only shows the folder name. If you need to find the folder too, use the next method.

Find the Folder path

To find the folder a message is stored in when using Outlook 2007, 2010 or Outlook 2013, follow these steps:

  1. Run an Instant Search or Advanced Find to find an e-mail in the "target" folder.
  2. Select All Mail items (Current Mailbox or All Mailboxes in Outlook 2013) or All Subfolders from the Search toolbar.
  3. search all mail items, or all subfolders

  4. Select and open (double-click) the e-mail.
  5. Click on the opened e-mail to make sure that is your active window.
  6. Press Ctrl-Shift-F to open Advanced Find.
    If you prefer to use a menu and are using Windows XP, go to the Find menu bar that has Find, Related and Select in it. Click Related, then Related Messages.... It doesn't matter which one you choose: .
  7. Use Find Related to locate messages

  8. Choose either Messages in conversation or Messages from sender to bring up the Advanced Find dialog box (you can "Stop" the search because that's not our goal). Note: if using Windows 7 or 8, these menus will use Instant Search in the Message list. You need to open the Advanced Find dialog.
  9. Click the Browse button to reveal the full path to the e-mail.

Use Advanced Find to display the folder paths

How to find Outlook subfolders video tutorial

Last reviewed on February 25, 2014.

  • LongOfTooth

    Or you can simply click on Start and type the text you're searching for into the "Search programs and files" box.

    When the results come up click on "see more results".

    This opens a window which shows the paths for all the hits.

  • Diane Poremsky

    That works with Vista and Windows 7. It won't work with older versions of Windows or Windows 8.

  • Lola

    THANK YOU !!

  • VP

    This method is wrong. There is no FIND tab in the Outlook menu bar. "Find Related" is located by Right clicking the messgae itself. The Advanced Search menu does NOT show the parent folder of any message.

    If you actually TRY THIS you'll see it DOESN'T WORK. REMOVE this so-called useless 'tip'

  • Diane Poremsky

    What version of Outlook? Outlook 2007 has a Find chunk (which Lorin refers to as a "menu bar". (In Outlook 2013 the chunk is called Editing.)

  • Steve

    Thank you so much. If one more site told me to look at the message Location in the message properties I though my head would explode!

  • Bob

    Wow, this was useless. DIdn't show me what I needed and the explanations are wrong. Outlook 2013 sucks.

  • Diane Poremsky

    The explanations are correct for older versions of Outlook - Outlook 2013 uses Instant Search for Find Related. You'll need to use the macro at Folder: Get the path

  • C Ross

    I find the following just a bit easier, for both Outlook 2010 and 2013:
    1. Run a search to identify an e-mail in the "target" folder.
    2. Select and open (double-click) the e-mail.
    3. Click on the opened e-mail to make sure that is your active window.
    3. Press Ctrl-Shift-F (Advanced Find).
    4. Click the Browse button to reveal the full path to the e-mail.

  • Paul

    Outlook 2010. Do the search over all mail items and folders. Select View -> Folder from the top menu bar, which will then reorganise search results into folders.

  • Diane Poremsky

    That will show you what folder the items are in but it won't show you where the folder is in the data file.

  • John Brooks

    CRoss's answer is the best. Simple and sweet.
    Double click the email, then do a CNTL+SHIFT+F to get the advanced search window, then click Browse and there it is!

  • Young Phoenix

    The CTRL-SHFT-F solution listed here does work but you need to ensure your default 'Include results only from:' setting is 'All folders'. In Outlook 2010 that setting is in the Results section under File, Options, Search.

  • Mark Newton

    It IS possible to search for folders. Just press Ctrl-Y.

  • Diane Poremsky

    That's not searching for folders, it's browsing and selecting a folder from the folder list. If you are in a folder, it will show you where it is, but most people who are in a folder know where it is. :)

  • GL

    Another way to find which folder any message is in (Outlook 2013):
    - Double click the message to open it in a new window
    - Click File to get to the 'backstage' view for your message
    - The current folder is displayed beside the 'Move to Folder' button
    As other's have noted, however, you can't tell where that folder is. :(

  • Martin Peter CLarke

    I've now got a favourite cailled 'email folder . highlight . Ctrl-^-F . Browse'

    Thank you Ms. Poremsky and not for the first time.

  • SANDY

    THIS IS WHAT I AM LOOKING FOR. AND IT WORKS, THANK YOU FOR A GREAT TIP!

  • bob

    THIS IS GENIUS! WORKED LIKE A CHARM! THX!!!!

  • Philippe

    Thank you very much. It works great.
    Philippe

  • FDR

    I am using Outlook 2010 and tried Pruett's suggestion. It did not work; it simply found "Messages in this conversation" (i.e., subject line) or "Messages from sender". There was no folder path information whatsoever and the "tip" is totally useless.

    The suggestion: "The CTRL-SHFT-F solution listed here does work but you need to ensure your default 'Include results only from:' setting is 'All folders'. In Outlook 2010 that setting is in the Results section under File, Options, Search." from Young Phoenix also does not work. Another useless "tip".

    Useless tips for a useless product.

  • Diane Poremsky

    In current versions (all current updates installed), Related... drops back to displaying Search results in the Message list in Windows 7 and 8. Because you need Advanced Find dialog, you need to use Ctrl+Shift+F.

  • sterlinghawk

    Worked for me, thank you! (2010)

  • FDR

    I finally got this to work by forcing Outlook to index all folders by selecting "Include results only from: All folders." in menu Files > Options > Search. Once this was done, searching for the email of interest using Instant Search, opening it and then Cntl+Shift+F provided the full folder path for the email.

    Hard to understand why Microsoft would make something that should be simple, so complex. Oh, sorry. Forgot that they have dropped over 70% of market share in the last five years. That must be the reason.

  • Mike D

    C Ross's explanation worked for me.
    But wouldn't it be far, far better if Outlook simply told you which folder the item was in? Here's how I hoped it would work: you right-clicked the item and on the pop-up menu found an item that said "Show item in enclosing folder", and changed the view so that the folders are listed at left, with the enclosing folder highlighted, and the searched-for item open in the main message pane? Presumably everyone has suggested this to Microsoft already?

  • Diane Poremsky

    Yeah, it would be better, and people have asked for an easier way to find the folder path.

  • adorno

    Diane, thank you very much for this tip.

    I have been looking for a way to find out folder path for the last 3 months in dozens of places in Europe and the US - some VBA solutions, yes, but I am not a programmer. Your tip brings the solution I looked for. However, considering my 200.000 emails in some 6.000 folders I would like Microsoft to provide for a more convenient and less time consuming way to identify the location of an email.

  • Jimbo

    My boss just asked me how to do this, and with your tip, I was able to help him. Thank You!

  • rambler

    In Outlook 2013, do the search, double click to open the email, click on "File" in the email itself, and next to "move to folder" you will find the current folder named.

  • Pankaj

    this is what i was looking for. thanks.

  • Bill

    Some
    of the comments in this blog address folder names instead of folder paths. Outlook
    2013 has the native ability to show the folder name (but not folder path)
    directly in the search results. The technique requires right clicking on one of the columns at the top of the search results pane, selecting "Field Chooser", selecting the “All Note
    fields” drop down in the “Field Chooser”, and then dragging the “In Folder”
    field to the Outlook search results pane as a new column. The newly inserted "In Folder" column will automatically display the folder name for each message in the Outlook 2013 search results pane.

  • Markus

    Looks great... but what about Outlook 2003? Please help thanks. Markus jaxios@gmail.com

  • Uri Teitler

    bumping an old trail .. Get the path fails when the email is in a PST .. is there a macro that accommodates this somewhere?

  • D Poremsky

    The Advanced find method works for all versions of Outlook.

  • Amanda

    It has always bothered me that I could not easily figure out what folder something was in from within the email. I haven't had much of a need to find the path, but am glad that I now know how to. Thank you so much for this post. I especially like the video.

  • Tom

    Thanks a lot - that worked for me!

  • Fat Fingers

    Life Saver!

  • StefanS

    Great job, helpful instruction.

    But if you didn't find any folder or subfolder try lookeen. This add-on works extremely easy and fast plus it finds anything. U can try the 14 days Trial version on http://www.lookeen.com

    best regards
    Addendum: I’m a member of the company which offers this tool.