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Say I want to quickly find all emails by one person.

In some email editors you can type "from: John" and it would understand that you are only interested in messages that John sent.

Is this possible with Outlook in OS X? What about Mail?

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Outlook 2011 for Mac can do that: just skip the space. So, from:John.

It shows your smart search options as you type. Click one of these (or just type them with the colon), and it'll search only that type of thing:

enter image description here

Or, you can click in the quick search box, then click the "From" button in the "search" ribbon section that appears...

enter image description here

...then type "John" in the different box that appears.

Less typing, but one extra click.

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