Using In-place Search for Exchange

When preserving an Office 365 or Exchange mailbox using Exchange Web Services (EWS), it is possible to perform pre-acquisition searches to narrow down the data set. You can launch the in-place search interface for Exchange by clicking the "Perform Pre-Acquisition Search" link as shown below.

Activating In-place Search for Exchange

FEC in-place search allows you to execute your search query on the server side and preview the search results. The search syntax is identical to Advanced Query Syntax (AQS). The accuracy of the search results is dependent on the capabilities of the Exchange server executing the search.

Note: The search is performed only in the selected mail folders. So, you can exclude certain folders from the search by deselecting them using the checkboxes in the screenshot above before you launch the in-place search interface.

What You Can Search For

You can run AQS searches for a keyword without specifying a property. This would result in all indexed properties being searched for that keyword.

Example: contract

You can also specify the property to be searched by including the property name as a keyword.

Example: subject:contract

Supported AQS keywords are as follows:


Value type


subject String subject:contract
body String body:contract dispute
attachment String attachment:report
to String to:"John Doe"
from String from:brown
cc String cc:"Jane Doe"
bcc String bcc:daniel
participants String participants:jack
category String category:project
importance String importance:high
kind Item type kind:meetings
sent Date sent:11/30/2015
received Date received:yesterday
hasattachment Boolean hasattachment:true
isflagged Boolean isflagged:true
isread Boolean isread:false
size Number size:>4000

String Searches

By default, a string value is searched as a case-insensitive prefix substring search. For example, searching for subject:contract would match any of the following subjects:

  • Contract dispute
  • How to deal with severe contractions

If you enclose the value in quotes, the entire word would be required rather than matching prefixes. So, searching for subject:"contract" would not match the second subject containing the word "contractions".

Including multiple words in a query string would require all of the words to be present in the search fields. For example, searching for subject:contract dispute would match any of the following subjects:

  • Contract dispute
  • Disputed contracts

Finally, enclosing the query string in quotes causes multiple words to be treated as a phrase. So, if you search for subject :"contract dispute", only the first subject above would be matched.

Date Searches

You can search for specific dates in mm/dd/yyyy format.

Example: received:12/21/2016

You can also use the greater than, less than and range operators as follows:

  • received:>7/30/2016
  • sent:<=11/9/2011
  • received:8/21/2015..9/7/2016

Boolean Operators

The following Boolean operators are supported:



AND contract AND from:"Jack Daniels"
subject:(contract AND dispute)
OR subject:contract OR from:"Jane Doe"
from:("Jack Daniels" OR "John Doe")
NOT NOT from:"Jane Doe"
received:NOT today

Saving the Search Query

Once you have finalized your search query, you can save it by using the SAVE button. This will close the in-place search window and activate your query. You will see a notice as in the screenshot below:

Search Query Activated

Clearing the Search Query

If you would like to clear the search query, you can click on the small (x) symbol next to the "Search Query Activated" text as shown in the figure above.

Limitations of Exchange Search

The search functionality built into Exchange and utilized by FEC is limited to the documents that Exchange servers are able to recognize and index. For instance, a proprietary CAD file unrecognized by an Exchange server, or files inside an encrypted file archive would not be indexed or searched. Similarly, if a file has no extractable text (e.g., a scanned TIFF image of a document), an Exchange server would not be able to extract text from it or index it.

Given the above limitations, it may be appropriate to use the Exchange search functionality in FEC to filter messages by top-level message characteristics such as sender, recipient and subject content. Keep these limitations in mind if you plan to use this functionality to perform a blanket search intended to search all documents and their attachments recursively.

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