How to Search for Content in Office 365?

Himanshu Goyal | Updated On - 22 Oct 2021 |

Read time 5 min

Finding specific content in Office 365 is not that complicated as most users think. Microsoft provides various features in Office 365 that make it easy for users to search for any content. For example, you can use the Content Search eDiscovery tool in Office 365 Compliance Center to find in-place items like emails, messages, and documents in your organization. You can use the Content Search feature to search for content in the following Office 365 services:

  • Exchange Online mailboxes and public folders
  • Skype for Business conversations
  • Office 365 Groups
  • SharePoint Online sites

When you put a content search query, the search will display a number of content locations and an estimated number of search results in the search statistics. Then you can run the search, preview the data, and export it to your PC, if required.

Creating a Search in Office 365

As an eDiscovery Manager, Compliance Officer, or Administrator, you can access the Content Search page (in the Security & Compliance Center) to run searches and display search results. However, remember that the account should be a member of the eDiscovery Manager role group. Follow the below steps to understand how to do it:

  1. Visit and sign in with your Office 365 account.
  2. In the menu tab, click Search and select Content Search.
  3. The Search page will appear on the screen, click +New Search from the options.
  4. From the +New Search drop-down, you can choose the following options:
    • Guided Search – This option will guide you through the process of creating the search
    • New Search – It will display an updated user interface for creating a search
    • Search by ID List – This option allows you to search for specific email messages and other mailbox items

    We will be selecting the New Search option; it is also the default option when you click +New Search.

  5. In the Search Query field, specify the following things:
    • Keywords – In the keyword section, you can provide details related to search, such as email properties, sender, receiver name, date, etc. You can also click Show keyword list to get with selecting the keywords.
    • Conditions – You can also apply conditions to narrow down your search to get more defined results. Conditions are indirectly connected to keyword queries with a logical operator (similar to AND, OR, etc.).
    • Locations – Select a specific location or all locations where you want to perform the Search.

    After setting up the search query, you can click Save & Run.

  6. The Save Search page will appear on the screen, provide a name for the search, and an optional description.
  7. After that, click Save to start the search.
    When you run the saved search, it will display the results in the results pane. If you have configured the preview settings, then the results will be displayed on the screen. Otherwise, you will have to click Preview results to view them. Check the below information to know how to preview search results.

Previewing the Search Results

You can preview the search results by configuring the settings in two ways. When you open an existing search or run a new search, you can see the following options:

  • Preview results automatically – It will display the search results after running a search
  • Preview results manually – It will show placeholders in the search results pane, and then display the Preview results button that you can be clicked to preview the search results. This setting helps you enhance the overall search performance by not revealing the search results automatically.

That’s the easiest way to search content in Office 365.

Export Search Results to PST

After running the search successfully, you can export the results as PST files (to the local PC). You can also export individual emails as MSG files.

  1. On the Content search page, select the required search, click More, and click Export results.
  2. Now, complete the process on the Export results page.

Office 365 Content search Using Professional Tools

There are many professional tools that provide advanced search features to find specific content in Office 365 mailboxes. Kernel for Exchange Server is one of them. This Exchange Recovery tool allows us to search for desired data in Office 365 mailboxes based on various criteria like email metadata (From, To, Cc, & Bcc), email properties (Category, Class, Status, & Size range or Size), etc. You can use this tool with live Exchange Server and offline EDB file as well.


A primary mailbox in Office 365 can have the size up to 50 GB. It allows to have thousands of emails, contacts, notes, and other mailboxes. If you the manual content search does not bring the desired items, then you can use Kernel for Exchange Server to scan the EDB file for the deleted items.

The software will scan and recover all deleted mailbox in Exchange server. After recovery, you can use the Search facility that offers various criteria and factors for better searching. If you use the software, then you will no longer need to remain dependent on the basic searching in Office 365.