May 14

Search for Emails in a 365 User’s Mailbox

EDIT: Search-Mailbox has been deprecated as of April 2020 in 365.  Please see my updated post that about using Compliance Search instead!


Often times, my posts are influenced by the questions of others in IT forums.  The other day, an IT pro asked “How can I retrieve emails a 365 user sent to a certain recipient”?  Obviously, I thought to myself, there should be a way to search a mailbox with powershell.  While writing the small script to answer their question, I realized I could do more than just search and copy with the search-mailbox cmdlet.

  • Search recoverable items.  This can be useful if a terminated employee deleted important emails that their manager needs.
  • Delete Emails.  This can useful for a scenario where a virus makes it to all user’s inbox or a disgruntled employee emails a nasty email to everyone.
  • There’s a TON of properties indexed by Exchange that you can query

Without further ado, let’s get to the script


Delegate Full Access to Mailboxes

In order to search mailboxes, you’ll need to ensure your account has Full Access to each user’s mailbox.  You can do this through the 365 Exchange Admin Center, or you can give yourself full access to all user’s mailbox with the following powershell script.  Make sure you authenticate using an Exchange Admin and replace with the account you need to delegate access.

#Connect to 365 with Admin Credentials
$UserCredential = Get-Credential
$Session = New-PSSession -ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange -ConnectionUri -Credential $UserCredential -Authentication Basic -AllowRedirection
Import-PSSession $Session

#Delegate Full Access to All Mailboxes
Get-Mailbox -ResultSize unlimited -Filter {(RecipientTypeDetails -eq 'UserMailbox')} | Add-MailboxPermission -User -AccessRights FullAccess -InheritanceType all

Search Mailbox For Email Sent to a Specific Email

#Connect to 365 with Admin Credentials
$UserCredential = Get-Credential
$Session = New-PSSession -ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange -ConnectionUri -Credential $UserCredential -Authentication Basic -AllowRedirection
Import-PSSession $Session

#Search Mailbox
Get-Mailbox | Search-Mailbox -SearchQuery "" -TargetMailbox -TargetFolder "Search_Result" -LogLevel Full –SearchDumpster
  • = User’s mailbox you want to search
  • = Email address sent to
  • = The Mailbox you want to copy the emails to
  • SearchDumpster = Search recoverable items (Emails that were deleted from the Trash)
  • *Note: If you only want to test the command and NOT copy anything, you can add the -LogOnly switch

The above will search a specified user’s mailbox for all emails sent to the specified email address.  The results and emails will be copied to the specified mailbox in the specified folder (This will most likely be your admin account).  If the folder does not exist, it will be automatically created.

Search All Mailboxes for Specific Email and Delete It

In order to delete emails with the -DeleteContent switch, you must be assigned the Discovery Management role and Mailbox Import Export role.  By default, the Mailbox Import Export role isn’t assigned to any role group, so we’ll need to create a new group and assign our user.

#Query Discovery Management Members
Get-RoleGroupMember -Identity "Discovery Management"

#Assign Discovery Management Member
Add-RoleGroupMember -Identity "Discovery Management" -Member

#Create Mailbox Import Export Management Group
New-RoleGroup "Mailbox Import-Export Management" -Roles "Mailbox Import Export"

#Add User to Mailbox Import Export Management Group
Add-RoleGroupMember "Mailbox Import-Export Management" -Member

With that complete, we can now search everyone’s email by the subject and date and delete it.

Get-Mailbox -ResultSize Unlimited | Search-Mailbox -SearchQuery {Subject:"You're a Winner!" AND Sent:"5/14/2015"} -DeleteContent -LogLevel Full –SearchDumpster

*Note: If you only want to test the command and NOT delete anything, you can add the -LogOnly switch

Final Comments

If you’d like to further refine your queries or do more advanced queries, see the complete message properties indexed by Exchange Search below: