Use the Microsoft Search API to search Outlook messages

Use the Microsoft Search API to search for information in email messages, return messages ranked by relevance, and render a dedicated search experience. The search applies to the body and attachments of messages in the signed-in user's own mailbox.

Caution

The search API schema has changed with some properties in a search request and response renamed or removed. See more details about the deprecation. Examples in this topic show the schema to use going forward.

A search query can include filters that end users enter in the Search text box in Outlook.

Message search results are sorted by receivedDateTime in descending order.

Message search applies to work or school accounts. Users can search their own mailbox, but can't search delegated mailboxes. For details, see known limitations.

Message search also looks for attachments. The supported file types for message attachment search are the same as those for SharePoint Online search.

Example 1: Search messages in a user's mailbox

The following example queries messages in the signed-in user's mailbox that contain the string "contoso" in any part of the message (the sender name, subject, message body, or any attachments). The query returns the first 25 results. The search results are ordered by DateTime descending.

Request

POST https://graph.microsoft.com/beta/search/query
Content-Type: application/json

{
  "requests": [
    {
      "entityTypes": [
        "message"
      ],
      "query": {
        "queryString": "contoso"
      },
      "from": 0,
      "size": 25
    }
  ]
}

Response

The following is an example of the response, which contains one message that matches the search criterion.

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Content-type: application/json

{
  "@odata.context": "https://graph.microsoft.com/beta/$metadata#search",
  "value": [
    {
      "searchTerms": [
        "contoso"
      ],
      "hitsContainers": [
        {
          "total": 1,
          "moreResultsAvailable": false,
          "hits": [
            {
              "hitId": "ptWLQ4o6HYpQg8xmAAATzOzRAAA=",
              "rank": 1,
              "summary": "Here is a summary of your messages from last week",
              "resource": {
                "@odata.type": "#microsoft.graph.message",
                "createdDateTime": "2019-10-07T10:00:08Z",
                "lastModifiedDateTime": "2019-10-07T10:00:11Z",
                "receivedDateTime": "2019-10-07T10:00:09Z",
                "sentDateTime": "2019-10-07T09:59:52Z",
                "hasAttachments": false,
                "subject": "Weekly digest: Microsoft 365 changes",
                "bodyPreview": "Here is a summary of your messages from last week -   New Feature: Live captions in English-US a",
                "importance": "normal",
                "replyTo": [
                  {
                    "emailAddress": {
                      "name": "Goncalo Torres"
                    }
                  }
                ],
                "sender": {
                  "emailAddress": {
                    "name": "Office365 Message Center",
                    "address": "gtorres@contoso.com"
                  }
                },
                "from": {
                  "emailAddress": {
                    "name": "Office365 Message Center",
                    "address": "gtorres@contoso.com"
                  }
                }
              }
            }
          ]
        }
      ]
    }
  ]
}

Example 2: Search top results messages

The following example uses the search query shown in Example 1, and sorts the results by relevance.

Request

POST https://graph.microsoft.com/beta/search/query
Content-Type: application/json

{
  "requests": [
    {
      "entityTypes": [
        "message"
      ],
      "query": {
        "queryString": "contoso"
      },
      "from": 0,
      "size": 15,
      "enableTopResults": true
    }
  ]
}

Response

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Content-type: application/json

{
  "@odata.context": "https://graph.microsoft.com/beta/$metadata#search",
  "value": [
    {
      "searchTerms": [
        "contoso"
      ],
      "hitsContainers": [
        {
          "total": 1,
          "moreResultsAvailable": false,
          "hits": [
            {
              "hitId": "ptWLQ4o6HYpQg8xmAAATzOzRAAA=",
              "rank": 1,
              "summary": "Here is a summary of your messages from last week",
              "resource": {
                "@odata.type": "#microsoft.graph.message",
                "createdDateTime": "2019-10-07T10:00:08Z",
                "lastModifiedDateTime": "2019-10-07T10:00:11Z",
                "receivedDateTime": "2019-10-07T10:00:09Z",
                "sentDateTime": "2019-10-07T09:59:52Z",
                "hasAttachments": false,
                "subject": "Weekly digest: Microsoft 365 changes",
                "bodyPreview": "Here is a summary of your messages from last week -   New Feature: Live captions in English-US a",
                "importance": "normal",
                "replyTo": [
                  {
                    "emailAddress": {
                      "name": "Goncalo Torres"
                    }
                  }
                ],
                "sender": {
                  "emailAddress": {
                    "name": "Office365 Message Center",
                    "address": "gtorres@contoso.com"
                  }
                },
                "from": {
                  "emailAddress": {
                    "name": "Office365 Message Center",
                    "address": "gtorres@contoso.com"
                  }
                }
              }
            }
          ]
        }
      ]
    }
  ]
}

Known limitations

  • You can access only the signed-in user’s own mailbox. Searching delegated mailboxes is not supported.
  • For messages, the total property of the searchHitsContainer type contains the number of results on the page, not the total number of matching results.
  • Sorting results is not supported for events. A sort clause in the request will return a Bad Request error code in the response.

Next steps