Searching in MS Outlook 2010: A disappointment

I spent several years as the design lead for Lotus Notes, and during that time, I often heard “Outlook does it this way”…

with the implication that that meant “better.”  Based on how many glowing things I’d heard about “how Outlook does it”, when I started a new job at which I use Outlook, I was prepared to be  pleased and productive. Heh.

My first and biggest disappointment with Outlook 2010 is the search. It was not easy to figure out how to search “all mail.”

I had to do a Google search and read a blog post to figure it out.  Instead of focusing search choices in the search area – we now get a search “contextual tab”  when I click in the search field. Except I never noticed this new “contextual tab” until I went searching the web  for help.  This is because the “order of operations” is NOT good. Specifically, as you can see from the screenshot below, clicking in the search field affects the contextual tabs ABOVE the search field.  Then you “filter” by choosing things ABOVE the search field. It all feels upside down to me.


  1. #1 by rrumanerRoy Rumaner on November 8, 2011 - 23:22

    What screenshot?

  2. #2 by Mat Newman on November 9, 2011 - 02:39

    And for all those years I kept telling you that they were giving you bad advice, and Outlook wasn’t really that great 🙂

    Wait until you hit Ctrl+F expecting it to do a find on the current screen!

    If you just want Email, get Outlook. If you want to #GetProductive, you get Lotus Notes 😀

  3. #3 by Denny Russell on November 9, 2011 - 08:44

    I wrote this article some time ago when I sat down at my home computer to send an email (my wife used Outlook for years at her job so I installed it for her when I put Office on there.)

    1. I cannot Send and File a message. I must send the message. Then I have to go to my Sent and find it and move it to a folder. Seriously? I know, it’s all because of how Outlook stores the messages. It’s doesn’t add a pointer, it makes a copy of the message. What? More on that some other day.

    2. The Escape key does not allow me to send. I can save it or cancel it but not send. Come on, I’m typing along and simply hit ‘Esc’, I should be prompted to send the mail. You aren’t going to give me an option to file it anyhow (see #1) so just let me send it for crying out loud.

    3. Delivery Failures = Fail. I can’t resend from the Delivery Failure notice. Again, I’ve got to go thru my Sent and find it and forward it.

  4. #4 by Bill on November 9, 2011 - 15:46

    @Denny: And the error messages returned by Exchange/Outlook have absolutely nothing to do with what the SMTP server sent with the 550 error code. WTF?

  5. #5 by Curt Stone on November 9, 2011 - 16:36

    We’ve not upgraded to Outlook 2010 and it’s bad in the 2003 version. I’m still lost when trying to find any archived mail. Between the points @Denny makes and the inability to search “All” in my archive, it’s really frustrating, slow and unproductive. I really miss my Notes All view, sorted column search and Send & File. That’s progress for you. 😦

  6. #6 by Keith Brooks (@LotusEvangelist) on November 10, 2011 - 09:39

    MBR, We did tell you not to keep up with Outlook but to extend Notes. What Outlook supposedly does well is their UI which is not intuitive at all as you and others here point out.

    Having said that, people new to notes have similar issues, they see it as upside down from Outlook or where is this or that.

    Training is the key. Sit with a power user and learn just like the UX lab does with us 🙂

    Could be worse, you could be using Gmail and it’s weird way of grouping messages so that you can’t find which is the latest or where to reply.

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