Lookout: a powerful search function for Outlook

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Lookout is a free extension that adds a powerful, index-based search box to Outlook with powerful filtering options. Its functionality includes indexing and searching inside Outlook folders, in attachements, and even searching user-specified desktop folders.

If you use Outlook you already know that, unless you agree to install the top-heavy Microsoft Desktop search, Outlook in and of itself offers only a rudimentary, one-dimensional searchbox with no options or filtering to speak of.

Because I did not want to install Microsoft’s clunky, resource intensive desktop search (which attempts to strong-arm its way to being your default desktop and web search method), the way around this problem for me had been to install and use the excellent Xobni.

With Lookout, however, I have come across another excellent solution that, purely from a search function point of view (and not taking into consideration Xobni’s “social” interface features), provides both more powerful and more versatile searches.

Lookout Screenshot

The irony is that Lookout apparently has recently been bought by Microsoft and has since disappeared. But you can still download ver. 1.2.8 from this link. I decided to post it on Freewaregenius so that this great tool does not become extinct.

Lookout Screenshot - search resultsSearch options: the core of this program is a powerful advanced search that will hone in on exactly the information that you want; you could conduct the following searches for example:

  • Search for the phrase “scholarship deadline”, in emails received from “Charlie” in the last 7 days.
  • As above, but only if the word “January” is in the subject of the email, or only for those emails that contain attachments, or only for those emails that do NOT contain a certain word or words in the subject or email address, etc.

More notes on this program as follows:

  • Lookout SyntaxSearch syntax: a fast route to quick and powerful searches. See image to the right for syntax options. A fairly involved search syntax may look like this: lastmonth +from:charlie +”scholarship deadline” -subject:Jumpstart.
  • Search “builder”: a wizard that uses a GUI to create your search query for you. Very useful, but could have been better designed in my opinion for seamless integration with the searchbox.
  • Index-based: which means that it will initially scan all of your folders and construct an “index”, and will continually update that index in real time as you accumulate more emails and information. This allows Lookout to serve super-fast search results when you run a search. (Note: Xobni uses a similar approach).
  • Index desktop folders: Lookout can be pointed to any folder or folders on your hard drive and index that information as well. You can tell it exactly which file extensions you want it to look into in the settings (default: txt, doc, html, htm, xls, and ppt).

Freewaregenius 5-Star Pick

The verdict: if you use Outlook and have been disappointed with the search function that you have (or don’t have) then Lookout will surely satisfy. Although the program could have been would have benefited from being just a tad better designed, it is powerful and it delivers very well.

A strike against it is that since being bought by Microsoft it has disappeared and I am assuming is no longer in development. Regardless, I had been needing something like this for a long time and now that I have found Lookout it has earned the highest Freewaregenius Pick rating. Recommended!

Version Tested: 1.2.8

Compatibility: WinAll. Requires Outlook (I tested on Outlook 2007).

Go here to download ver. 1.2.8 (approx 860K). More info on this program here.


 
 
 
  • Greg

    Before I add this to my work computer and have to eventually get IT to come by and save me, can you confirm this plays nicely with Xobni?

  • Samer

    I can confirm to you that I am using it alongside Xobni without hitch.

  • I’ve used this for years, it is really great. It plays well with Xobni, but I’ve let Xobni go because of the performance hit.

  • stephen

    MS incorporated all of this functionality into their desktop search (instant search in Office 2007) after they bought this company.

  • Mark

    What is the memory footprint like on this? Does it run in the system tray, as a standalone program, or does it just integrate with Outlook?

  • Ruceb

    Does anyone have a clue if there is something similar for Thunderbird?

  • David

    Lookout is so much faster than Outlook 2007’s integrated search or Windows Desktop Search! I wish Microsoft would have used Lookout as their basis for searching email.

    The last version of Lookout that I’m aware of is 1.3.0, and it can be found on many file repositories, try this search query:

    http://www.google.com/search?q=lookout+1.3.0+download

    Also, if you have trouble getting it to work in Outlook 2007, the original author (Mike Belshe) has instructions here:

    http://www.belshe.com/2007/12/06/how-to-install-lookout-on-outlook-2007/

  • bootz15

    This crashed my Outlook 2007 everytime it started indexing. Removed promtly.

  • cc3

    actually there is a newer version available 1.30
    ping me if you wish me to email it to you…

  • Dave

    Unf does not work with Vista64 when following the rename interop instructions. Crashes on indexing 🙁

  • alexo1

    Hey
    I liked lookout a lot, but it doesn´t work with my outlook 2007 either. But I think I found a tool which is just as useful as lookout, plus it works with outlook 2007. It´s called lookeen (www.lookeen.com) and is very similiar to lookout.

  • Charal

    I also work with LOOKEEN now and for me its the only best alternative to LookOut!

  • Tony Weber

    For some reason, my latest install of Lookout keeps wanting to
    rebuild the database every time I do a query?

    What am I doing wrong?

    Feel free to email me directly – thanks!

    Tony

    Anthony.Weber@siemens.com

  • WokerBee

    How do you guys get lookout working in office 2007? It doesn’t work in office2007 – it’s disabled at startup after an error message dialog.

  • DJ Megahertz

    Loved Lookout as well.. But, does not work in Windowz 7 🙁
    Seems as they made a point to not allow it to work.
    As for Tony, the comment of wanting to rebuild, I had the same problem when I was still using it under XP/OL2007.. Problem turned out that after I loaded the outlook connector to allow my hotmail account to work, it had some issue with that. I simply unchecked the hotmail account from being indexed and that solved it.
    I am now using lookeen (www.lookeen.net) and it was the best $39 spent.

  • Really like this article, just got here through a Google search. Didn’t even know most of this stuff you wrote, thanks once again and keep it up!

  • I use GetMail from http://www.searchterrain.com. It search for Outlook emails very fast. Uncomplicated to use.

  • Anonymous

    how do we get

  • InboxEx is a new Outlook search alternative

    http://www.inboxex.com

  • Prashant Soni

    Below link worked for me on Win XP and Win 7 and OL2007.

    http://vlad.bailescu.ro/articles/2008/07/01/outlook-2007-vista-spam-protection-and-lightning-fast-search/

    Just a note that it worked only after .Net Framework 2.0 was installed on all machines

    Thanx Mike and Vlad

  • StefanS

    I agree with choral. Think that lookeen is the best alternative or “successor” of lookout. I use free.lookeen.com daily.