How to: Work with search folders by using EWS in Exchange

Find out how to create, get, update, and delete search folders by using the EWS Managed API or EWS in Exchange.

Last modified: March 09, 2015

Applies to: EWS Managed API | Exchange Online | Exchange Server 2013 | Office 365

A search folder represents a persistent "always-on" search in a user's mailbox. A search folder looks and acts like a regular mailbox folder. However, instead of containing items, it contains a "virtual" copy of items from any folders in its search scope that match the search criteria set on the folder. Both applications and end-users can use search folders. Does your application need to perform the same search over and over? Search folders are a great tool for this task. Or maybe you just want to give your users the ability to access and manage search folders in your client. Whatever your scenario, the EWS Managed API and EWS enable your application to fully interact with search folders.

Table 1.  EWS Managed API methods and EWS operations for working with search folders

If you want to…

In the EWS Managed API, use…

In EWS, use…

Create a search folder

SearchFolder.Save

CreateFolder operation

Get a search folder

SearchFolder.Bind

GetFolder operation

Update a search folder

SearchFolder.Update

UpdateFolder operation

Delete a search folder

SearchFolder.Delete

DeleteFolder operation

Before you start working with search folders, you’ll want to be familiar with how search filters work. Search folders rely on search filters to express their criteria. Search filters for search folders are constructed in the same way that search filters for search operations are constructed.

Basically, you create a search folder using the EWS Managed API in the same way that you create a regular folder. However, instead of using the Folder class, you use the SearchFolder class, and set the SearchParameters property to configure the search criteria.

In the following example, a search folder is created to find all messages in the Inbox and its subfolders that were sent by the user's manager, sadie@contoso.com. The folder is created as a child of the Search Folders folder in the user's mailbox.

Note Note

You can create a search folder as a child of any folder in the user's mailbox. However, if you want the newly created folder to show up under Search Folders in Outlook, create it under the Search Folders well-known folder, using the SearchFolders value of the WellKnownFolderName enumeration.

This example assumes that the ExchangeService object has been initialized with valid values in the Credentials and Url properties.

using Microsoft.Exchange.WebServices.Data;

static void CreateSearchFolder(ExchangeService service)
{
    // Create the folder.
    SearchFolder searchFolder = new SearchFolder(service);
    searchFolder.DisplayName = "From Manager";

    // Create a search filter to express the criteria
    // for the folder.
    EmailAddress manager = new EmailAddress("sadie@contoso.com");

    SearchFilter.IsEqualTo fromManagerFilter =
        new SearchFilter.IsEqualTo(EmailMessageSchema.Sender, manager);

    // Set the search filter.
    searchFolder.SearchParameters.SearchFilter = fromManagerFilter;
    // Set the folder to search.
    searchFolder.SearchParameters.RootFolderIds.Add(WellKnownFolderName.Inbox);
    // Set the search traversal. Deep will search all subfolders.
    searchFolder.SearchParameters.Traversal = SearchFolderTraversal.Deep;

    // Call Save to make the EWS call to create the folder.
    searchFolder.Save(WellKnownFolderName.SearchFolders);
}

If you are using EWS, use the CreateFolder operation with a SearchFolder element to create a search folder. In the following request example, a search folder is created to find all messages in the Inbox and its subfolders that were sent by the user's manager, sadie@contoso.com. The folder is created in the Search Folders folder in the user's mailbox.

Note Note

You can create a search folder as a child of any folder in the user's mailbox. However, if you want the newly created folder to show up under Search Folders in Outlook, create it under the Search Folders well-known folder, using the searchfolders value in the Id attribute of the DistinguishedFolderId element.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<soap:Envelope xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" 
    xmlns:m="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/services/2006/messages" 
    xmlns:t="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/services/2006/types" 
    xmlns:soap="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/envelope/">
  <soap:Header>
    <t:RequestServerVersion Version="Exchange2007_SP1" />
    <t:TimeZoneContext>
      <t:TimeZoneDefinition Id="Eastern Standard Time" />
    </t:TimeZoneContext>
  </soap:Header>
  <soap:Body>
    <m:CreateFolder>
      <m:ParentFolderId>
        <t:DistinguishedFolderId Id="searchfolders" />
      </m:ParentFolderId>
      <m:Folders>
        <t:SearchFolder>
          <t:DisplayName>From Manager</t:DisplayName>
          <t:SearchParameters Traversal="Deep">
            <t:Restriction>
              <t:IsEqualTo>
                <t:FieldURI FieldURI="message:Sender" />
                <t:FieldURIOrConstant>
                  <t:Constant Value="sadie@contoso.com" />
                </t:FieldURIOrConstant>
              </t:IsEqualTo>
            </t:Restriction>
            <t:BaseFolderIds>
              <t:DistinguishedFolderId Id="inbox" />
            </t:BaseFolderIds>
          </t:SearchParameters>
        </t:SearchFolder>
      </m:Folders>
    </m:CreateFolder>
  </soap:Body>
</soap:Envelope>

The server responds with a CreateFolderResponse message that includes a ResponseCode value of NoError, which indicates success.

Use the ExchangeService.FindFolders EWS Managed API method to find search folders. Note, however, that you can’t limit your results to only include search folders; you’ll want to keep that in mind when you process the results. Use the SearchFolder.Bind method to get search folders.

The following example finds the first 10 folders in the Search Folders folder. It checks to determine whether each one is a search folder, and if so, it gets the search folder and displays how many target folders it searches.

using Microsoft.Exchange.WebServices.Data;

static void GetSearchFolders(ExchangeService service)
{
    FolderView folderView = new FolderView(10);
    folderView.PropertySet = new PropertySet(FolderSchema.DisplayName);

    try
    {
        FindFoldersResults findResults = service.FindFolders(WellKnownFolderName.SearchFolders, folderView);

        foreach (Folder folder in findResults.Folders)
        {
            // You can’t request only search folders in 
            // a FindFolders request, so other search folders might also be present.
            if (folder is SearchFolder)
            {
                Console.WriteLine("{0} is a search folder.", folder.DisplayName);

                // In order to access the SearchParameters property,
                // you have to bind to the folder. SearchParameters are not
                // returned in FindFolders results.
                SearchFolder searchFolder = SearchFolder.Bind(service, folder.Id);

                Console.WriteLine("Number of folders searched: {0}.",
                    searchFolder.SearchParameters.RootFolderIds.Count);
            }
            else
            {
                Console.WriteLine("{0} is NOT a search folder.", folder.DisplayName);
            }
        }
    }
    catch (Exception ex)
    {
        Console.WriteLine("Exception while enumerating results: {0}", ex.Message);
    }
}

If you’re using EWS, use the FindFolder operation to find search folders, and the GetFolder operation to get search folders. A successful GetFolder response for a search folder will contain a SearchFolder element. The following request example finds the first 10 folders in the Search Folders folder.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<soap:Envelope xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" 
    xmlns:m="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/services/2006/messages" 
    xmlns:t="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/services/2006/types" 
    xmlns:soap="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/envelope/">
  <soap:Header>
    <t:RequestServerVersion Version="Exchange2007_SP1" />
    <t:TimeZoneContext>
      <t:TimeZoneDefinition Id="Eastern Standard Time" />
    </t:TimeZoneContext>
  </soap:Header>
  <soap:Body>
    <m:FindFolder Traversal="Shallow">
      <m:FolderShape>
        <t:BaseShape>IdOnly</t:BaseShape>
        <t:AdditionalProperties>
          <t:FieldURI FieldURI="folder:DisplayName" />
        </t:AdditionalProperties>
      </m:FolderShape>
      <m:IndexedPageFolderView MaxEntriesReturned="10" Offset="0" BasePoint="Beginning" />
      <m:ParentFolderIds>
        <t:DistinguishedFolderId Id="searchfolders" />
      </m:ParentFolderIds>
    </m:FindFolder>
  </soap:Body>
</soap:Envelope>

The server returns the following response, which shows one search folder.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<s:Envelope xmlns:s="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/envelope/">
  <s:Header>
    <h:ServerVersionInfo MajorVersion="15" MinorVersion="0" MajorBuildNumber="712" MinorBuildNumber="22" Version="V2_3" 
        xmlns:h="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/services/2006/types" 
        xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/services/2006/types" 
        xmlns:xsd="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema" 
        xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" />
  </s:Header>
  <s:Body xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xmlns:xsd="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema">
    <m:FindFolderResponse xmlns:m="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/services/2006/messages" 
        xmlns:t="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/services/2006/types">
      <m:ResponseMessages>
        <m:FindFolderResponseMessage ResponseClass="Success">
          <m:ResponseCode>NoError</m:ResponseCode>
          <m:RootFolder IndexedPagingOffset="3" TotalItemsInView="3" IncludesLastItemInRange="true">
            <t:Folders>
              <t:SearchFolder>
                <t:FolderId Id="AAMkAGM2..." ChangeKey="CAAAABYA..." />
                <t:DisplayName>From Manager</t:DisplayName>
              </t:SearchFolder>
            </t:Folders>
          </m:RootFolder>
        </m:FindFolderResponseMessage>
      </m:ResponseMessages>
    </m:FindFolderResponse>
  </s:Body>
</s:Envelope>

The following example of a request uses the value of the FolderId element from the previous response in a GetFolder operation request to get the search folder.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<soap:Envelope xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" 
    xmlns:m="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/services/2006/messages" 
    xmlns:t="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/services/2006/types" 
    xmlns:soap="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/envelope/">
  <soap:Header>
    <t:RequestServerVersion Version="Exchange2007_SP1" />
    <t:TimeZoneContext>
      <t:TimeZoneDefinition Id="Eastern Standard Time" />
    </t:TimeZoneContext>
  </soap:Header>
  <soap:Body>
    <m:GetFolder>
      <m:FolderShape>
        <t:BaseShape>AllProperties</t:BaseShape>
      </m:FolderShape>
      <m:FolderIds>
        <t:FolderId Id="AAMkAGM2..." ChangeKey="CAAAABYA..." />
      </m:FolderIds>
    </m:GetFolder>
  </soap:Body>
</soap:Envelope>

The server returns the following response with all the first-class properties for the search folder.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<s:Envelope xmlns:s="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/envelope/">
  <s:Header>
    <h:ServerVersionInfo MajorVersion="15" MinorVersion="0" MajorBuildNumber="712" MinorBuildNumber="22" Version="V2_3" 
        xmlns:h="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/services/2006/types" 
        xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/services/2006/types" 
        xmlns:xsd="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema" 
        xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" />
  </s:Header>
  <s:Body xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xmlns:xsd="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema">
    <m:GetFolderResponse xmlns:m="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/services/2006/messages" 
        xmlns:t="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/services/2006/types">
      <m:ResponseMessages>
        <m:GetFolderResponseMessage ResponseClass="Success">
          <m:ResponseCode>NoError</m:ResponseCode>
          <m:Folders>
            <t:SearchFolder>
              <t:FolderId Id="AAMkAGM2..." ChangeKey="CAAAABYA..." />
              <t:ParentFolderId Id="AQMkAGM2..." ChangeKey="AQAAAA==" />
              <t:FolderClass>IPF.Note</t:FolderClass>
              <t:DisplayName>From Manager</t:DisplayName>
              <t:TotalCount>8</t:TotalCount>
              <t:ChildFolderCount>0</t:ChildFolderCount>
              <t:EffectiveRights>
                <t:CreateAssociated>true</t:CreateAssociated>
                <t:CreateContents>true</t:CreateContents>
                <t:CreateHierarchy>true</t:CreateHierarchy>
                <t:Delete>true</t:Delete>
                <t:Modify>true</t:Modify>
                <t:Read>true</t:Read>
                <t:ViewPrivateItems>true</t:ViewPrivateItems>
              </t:EffectiveRights>
              <t:UnreadCount>0</t:UnreadCount>
              <t:SearchParameters Traversal="Deep">
                <t:Restriction>
                  <t:IsEqualTo>
                    <t:FieldURI FieldURI="message:Sender" />
                    <t:FieldURIOrConstant>
                      <t:Constant Value="/o=First Organization/ou=Exchange Administrative Group (FYDIBOHF23SPDLT)/cn=Recipients/cn=8d84a3f4cbb34d48838a3aecf99795c0-Sadie" />
                    </t:FieldURIOrConstant>
                  </t:IsEqualTo>
                </t:Restriction>
                <t:BaseFolderIds>
                  <t:FolderId Id="AQMkAGM2..." ChangeKey="AQAAAA==" />
                </t:BaseFolderIds>
              </t:SearchParameters>
            </t:SearchFolder>
          </m:Folders>
        </m:GetFolderResponseMessage>
      </m:ResponseMessages>
    </m:GetFolderResponse>
  </s:Body>
</s:Envelope>

Use the Folder.Update EWS Managed API method on a SearchFolder object to update a search folder. The following example updates the search criteria on a search folder with the display name "From Manager".

using Microsoft.Exchange.WebServices.Data;

static void UpdateSearchFolder(ExchangeService service)
{
    FolderView folderView = new FolderView(10);
    folderView.PropertySet = new PropertySet(FolderSchema.DisplayName);

    try
    {
        FindFoldersResults findResults = service.FindFolders(WellKnownFolderName.SearchFolders, folderView);

        foreach (Folder folder in findResults.Folders)
        {
            // You cannot request only search folders in 
            // a FindFolders request, so other search folders might also be present.
            if (folder is SearchFolder && folder.DisplayName.Equals("From Manager"))
            {
                Console.WriteLine("\"{0}\" folder found.", folder.DisplayName);

                SearchFolder searchFolder = folder as SearchFolder;

                EmailAddress newManager = new EmailAddress("hope@contoso.com");
                SearchFilter.IsEqualTo newManagerFilter =
                    new SearchFilter.IsEqualTo(EmailMessageSchema.Sender, newManager);

                searchFolder.SearchParameters.SearchFilter = newManagerFilter;
                searchFolder.SearchParameters.RootFolderIds.Add(WellKnownFolderName.Inbox);
                searchFolder.SearchParameters.Traversal = SearchFolderTraversal.Deep;

                searchFolder.Update();

                Console.WriteLine("\"{0}\" folder updated.", folder.DisplayName);
            }
        }
    }
    catch (Exception ex)
    {
        Console.WriteLine("Exception while enumerating results: {0}", ex.Message);
    }
}

If you’re using EWS, use the UpdateFolder operation with a SearchFolder element to update a search folder. The following request example updates the search criteria on the "From Manager" search folder.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<soap:Envelope xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" 
    xmlns:m="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/services/2006/messages" 
    xmlns:t="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/services/2006/types" 
    xmlns:soap="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/envelope/">
  <soap:Header>
    <t:RequestServerVersion Version="Exchange2007_SP1" />
    <t:TimeZoneContext>
      <t:TimeZoneDefinition Id="Eastern Standard Time" />
    </t:TimeZoneContext>
  </soap:Header>
  <soap:Body>
    <m:UpdateFolder>
      <m:FolderChanges>
        <t:FolderChange>
          <t:FolderId Id="AAMkAGM2..." ChangeKey="CAAAABYA..." />
          <t:Updates>
            <t:SetFolderField>
              <t:FieldURI FieldURI="folder:SearchParameters" />
              <t:SearchFolder>
                <t:SearchParameters Traversal="Deep">
                  <t:Restriction>
                    <t:IsEqualTo>
                      <t:FieldURI FieldURI="message:Sender" />
                      <t:FieldURIOrConstant>
                        <t:Constant Value="hope@contoso.com" />
                      </t:FieldURIOrConstant>
                    </t:IsEqualTo>
                  </t:Restriction>
                  <t:BaseFolderIds>
                    <t:DistinguishedFolderId Id="inbox" />
                  </t:BaseFolderIds>
                </t:SearchParameters>
              </t:SearchFolder>
            </t:SetFolderField>
          </t:Updates>
        </t:FolderChange>
      </m:FolderChanges>
    </m:UpdateFolder>
  </soap:Body>
</soap:Envelope>

The server responds with an UpdateFolderResponse message that includes a ResponseCode value of NoError, which indicates success.

Use the Folder.Delete EWS Managed API method on a SearchFolder object to delete a search folder. The following example deletes a search folder with the display name "From Manager". The deleted search folder is moved to the Deleted Items folder.

using Microsoft.Exchange.WebServices.Data;

static void DeleteSearchFolder(ExchangeService service)
{
    FolderView folderView = new FolderView(10);
    folderView.PropertySet = new PropertySet(FolderSchema.DisplayName);

    try
    {
        FindFoldersResults findResults = service.FindFolders(WellKnownFolderName.SearchFolders, folderView);

        foreach (Folder folder in findResults.Folders)
        {
            // You cannot request only search folders in 
            // a FindFolders request, so other folders might also be present.
            if (folder is SearchFolder && folder.DisplayName.Equals("From Manager"))
            {
                Console.WriteLine("\"{0}\" folder found.", folder.DisplayName);

                folder.Delete(DeleteMode.MoveToDeletedItems);

                Console.WriteLine("\"{0}\" folder deleted.", folder.DisplayName);
            }
        }
    }
    catch (Exception ex)
    {
        Console.WriteLine("Exception while enumerating results: {0}", ex.Message);
    }
}

If you’re using EWS, use the DeleteFolder operation to delete a search folder. The following example deletes a search folder and moves it to the Deleted Items folder.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<soap:Envelope xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" 
    xmlns:m="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/services/2006/messages" 
    xmlns:t="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/services/2006/types" 
    xmlns:soap="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/envelope/">
  <soap:Header>
    <t:RequestServerVersion Version="Exchange2007_SP1" />
    <t:TimeZoneContext>
      <t:TimeZoneDefinition Id="Eastern Standard Time" />
    </t:TimeZoneContext>
  </soap:Header>
  <soap:Body>
    <m:DeleteFolder DeleteType="MoveToDeletedItems">
      <m:FolderIds>
        <t:FolderId Id="AAMkAGM2..." ChangeKey="CAAAABYA..." />
      </m:FolderIds>
    </m:DeleteFolder>
  </soap:Body>
</soap:Envelope>

The server responds with a DeleteFolderResponse message that includes a ResponseCode value of NoError, which indicates success.

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