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.
Outlook 2007, 2010 and 2013
To find the folder a message is stored in when using Outlook 2007, 2010 or Outlook 2013, follow these steps:
- Run an Instant Search or Advanced Find to find an e-mail in the "target" folder.
- Select All Mail items (Current Mailbox or All Mailboxes in Outlook 2013) or All Subfolders from the Search toolbar.
- Select and open (double-click) the e-mail.
- Click on the opened e-mail to make sure that is your active window.
- 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: .
- 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.
- Click the Browse button to reveal the full path to the e-mail.
How to find Outlook subfolders video tutorial
Last reviewed on October 7, 2013.