M365: Using Microsoft Search


This article provides instructions on how to use the Microsoft Search field on the web and in OneDrive and SharePoint. It has the following sections covered:



It’s easy to search your files and folders quickly within Microsoft365 using Microsoft Search. Microsoft Search indexes the content of files not just the file name, and gives you a powerful search experience.

Microsoft Search is personalized to you and the files you have access to, so others may see different results even if you both use the same search terms.

The results displayed are relevant to the applications you’re working on. For example, when you search from Outlook, you find emails, not sites in SharePoint. When you search from SharePoint, you find for example sites, pages, and files, not emails.

Your content is accessible to others via their search results if they have permission to see it. Your Microsoft Search history isn't shared with others.

The Microsoft Search box is located at the top of several of the applications in Microsoft 365 and Office on the Web (portal.office.com).



Task: To search using Microsoft Search.



Step 1 - In the Microsoft Search field type words related to what you’re looking for.


Step 1 - When in the applications, click in the Microsoft Search field.



Suggested searches and results are displayed based on your previous activity in Microsoft 365 and on content that’s trending in your organization. The suggestions change as you type.













Next Steps

  • If the results list contains the item you are looking for, click the result to open.
  • If the results list does not contain the item you are looking for, press Enter to open the search results page and explore all the results. Here’s an example of a search results page in SharePoint.











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Task: To search within a web application (OneDrive, SharePoint)



Step 1 - Log in to Portal.Office.Com and select OneDrive from the navigation bar (cloud icon).

Step 2 - If you don’t see OneDrive listed, click on the App Launcher (9 dot grid) on the top left to view all applications.

Step 3 - Click into the Microsoft Search bar at the top of the page.

Note: You’ll notice your most recent files already appear so you can easily access your most recent items.

Step 4 - Start typing your search – you can search for Apps, Files, People, and Sites. You’ll see suggested results that change as you type. If what you’re looking for appears in the drop-down, just click on it to access.

Step 5 - To see full results, press Return.



  • To find information about a person in SharePoint or Portal.Office.Com, type in their name. It works best with a full name, but if you only know part of their name, search will show the person that best matches what you entered.
  • To find your files in SharePoint or Portal.Office.Com, type “my files” and then press Enter. You’ll get up to 10 of the files you’ve been working on lately.
  • To find someone else's files in SharePoint or Portal.Office.Com,  type “their full name files”, and then press Enter. You’ll get a list of the files that the person has shared with you. This is useful if you two are collaborating on files together, or you’d like to find back to files the person has shared with you.



The results of your query are displayed.

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Task: To use search operators within a web application.

Within a web application, you can also use search operators in the Microsoft Search bar to help narrow your search.

  • To limit your search to retrieve a list of specific file types, enter Filetype:[type] where type can be pdf, xlsx, ppt, docx, etc.
  • Example: Filetype:pdf returns PDF documents.
  • To search for files and folders with a specific word in the file name, enter Filename:[name] where name can be an word.
  • Example: Filename:support returns all items and folders with the word support in the file name.
  • To search for files and folders last modified by a specific person, enter Modifiedby:[Full name] where full name is the specific person's first and last name.
  • Example: Modifiedby:John Smith returns all items and folders last modified by John Smith.

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Task: To search on your computer (not recommended).

Searching for files stored in OneDrive using the Windows or Mac desktop search is not recommended. Because of limitations in the search functions, you may find not all results will appear or that Windows may not successfully search file contents. Follow the links below for more information about search in Windows and in MacOS.

Window OS

Mac OS

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Further Readings

Find What You Need with Microsoft Search in Office 

Search and Filter Email 


Need additional help?

For assistance concerning site creation, content sharing, file synchronization, or other common SharePoint, OneDrive, Teams, or Office app activities, we recommend our Microsoft 365 Learning sites:

Learn more about the great tools our Microsoft 365 Learning sites offer!

Visit the Technology Help Desk Support page to locate your local campus contact information or to submit an online technology support request.  For password issues you must call or visit the Help Desk in person.  

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Article ID: 3992
Thu 5/6/21 11:42 AM
Mon 5/6/24 11:10 AM
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