Outlook Search ignores s/mime files

Posted on 2004-04-30
Last Modified: 2010-04-08
I've seen this problem since Outlook 2000 or earlier on multiple platforms.  Currently using Outlook 2002 SP3.  I keep enourmous PST folders of emails of our project for the last 6 years.  When an issue comes up that sounds familier, I can search my archived mail and come up with an answer from last week to 6 years ago that really helps out.

The problem is that as more and more of the emails I receive are digitally signed, the various Find tools - including Advanced Find - fail to find strings within the body of the signed emails.  The DoD is putting pressure on my customers and we contractors to digitally sign all of our email.  When most of my incoming email is signed, my system will no longer be searchable (except for subject line content).  I've notified Microsoft of this twice with no response.

Is there a workaround, hack, or tool that I can use (perhaps outside of Outlook) that can enable me to search on s/mime content within Outlook?  I'm posting this in both the Outlook and Office areas so 500 points each for the same successful answer.  Thanks,
Question by:danceswithbugs
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Accepted Solution

rosesolutions1 earned 500 total points
ID: 10982936
(a) I can confirm the behaviour you are seeing - they really do skip signed messages.
(b) So do all the third party search tools I have been able to find.
(c) FWIW, there is no good reason for skipping signed messages - all the vendors agree it is a minor change to also search signed messages. [Although none of them seem to have any good ideas about searching encrypted ones.]
(d) My only suggestion is to implement code that can go through the emails deleting the digital signature - then the mail should be searchable.  [If you really need to keep a copy of the signed email, have a seperate non-searchable store for that.]  Interested? - If so, we can help write the code...

Author Comment

ID: 11023815
Thanks for your response.  It's nice to hear that someone else confirms this problem.  I'm surprised that this hasn't gotten more attention as digital signatures become more common.   Being able to search on encrypted messages isn't that big of a problem for me since I only get occasional encrypted email.  

A tool to delete signatures would be helpful - especially if it could be done by selecting all emails in a folder or directory tree.  I wouldn't need to preserve copies of signed emails since  non-repudiaton is a one-time thing for us in most cases.  However, I doubt that I can make a case for my management to contract for the service.  Too bad Microsoft won't just fix the problem.  Thanks again.

Expert Comment

ID: 11073650
OK - after considerable investigation, I can report that this is not straightforward.
(a) While manually and/or programmatically adding and deleting signatures was thought through for the Word and PPT implementations of digital signatures, OL does not have features to allow this.
(b) In theory, the next layer is to manipulate the mailitem at the MAPI property level - but I can't figure out which ones, and a few 'figure it out' exercises have not been successful.

I agree that this code would be cool, and my company will investigate getting some even-more-serious (grin) OL developers to have a go at it. This might result in some code we normals can use, or might result in some C++ objects...
LVL 81

Expert Comment

ID: 11130681
I deleted your duplicate question since you are getting comments on this one. Your points were refunded.
byundt--Office TA Page Editor

Author Comment

ID: 11768527
This problem has mysteriously gone away.  In the last few weeks, I noticed s/mime emails showing up in my search results.  Go figure...

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