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Free tool accelerates Outlook store searches

Lookout for Outlook is a free third-party add-on for Outlook 2000 and later that offers lightning fast searches of .PST files and customizable search parameters.

Even in its most recent versions and on fast machines, Outlook's search function for local .PST files is aggravatingly slow. Part of the problem is that Outlook doesn't index its own message store, which means that searches have to be done in a "brute force" fashion -- the contents of every message have to be inspected during a search.

Because of this issue, many users have turned to third-party plug-ins to search Outlook stores, one of the most powerful and popular being Lookout for Outlook.

Lookout speeds up Outlook searches by creating an index of the contents of every piece of mail stored in Outlook. This index is periodically crawled and repopulated when Outlook is idle, so that deleted items are removed and newly-listed items are added. And, the aggressiveness of the indexer can be set manually -- for instance, you can force it to perform indexing only during specific hours.

Lookout's searches are blindingly fast. I tested it out on my own .PST store, which has over 7,000 e-mails in it, and was able to return results for most any search in under 0.1 seconds.

You can also add custom search parameters. For example, you can search just the Sent Items folder, or only a particular date range. Even complicated queries don't slow down searching very much.

Note that future versions of Lookout may be directly integrated into Outlook as part of its search mechanism, but for now Lookout will continue to be available as an independent add-on for Outlook 2000 and later.

About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Power Users Newsletter and a regular contributor to SearchExchange.com.

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