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Lion Mail: Search mailboxes

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Search mailboxes

You can search for text in all mailboxes, selected mailboxes, or favorite mailboxes.

  1. In the Search field in the Mail toolbar, type the text you’re searching for.

    As you type, a list of suggestions from all of your mailboxes appears under the Search field, and the Search bar appears in the toolbar.

    • Suggestions are organized into categories. The categories listed depend on your search text and might include, for example, “Search messages,” People, Subjects (includes the subject field and instances of the text you typed), Status, or Dates.

    • The Search bar indicates which mailbox will be searched. If your last search focused on a specific mailbox, then this search will focus on the currently selected mailbox. Otherwise, all mailboxes are searched.

  2. Choose a suggestion from the list.

    Mail displays the search criteria in the Search field and displays only the messages from the selected mailbox that match the criteria.

  3. Refine your search, if you want.
    • To change which mailboxes are searched, click All or a favorite mailbox in the Search bar. If you selected specific mailboxes in the sidebar before starting the search, you can click Selected Mailboxes in the Search bar to search only those mailboxes.

    • To change the criteria, click the arrow and choose From, To, or Entire Message from the pop-up menu. The choices in the menu depend on the category you selected from the list of suggestions.

      Entire Message includes the address fields and the subject line, and appears in the Search field as Any. When you search using Any, you can perform Boolean queries (using Boolean operators such as AND, OR, and NOT). For examples of Boolean queries, also used by Spotlight, read this help topic:

  4. If you want to save your search as a Smart Mailbox, click Save.

    The Smart Mailbox lets you easily find and view at any time all messages that match the search criteria.

If you search the From, To, or Subject fields, Mail finds messages that contain any of the words you entered in the Search field.

If you search an entire message or search in all mailboxes, Mail finds only messages containing words that have the same prefix, or the same beginning letters, as any of the words you entered in the Search field. The words can be in any order. For example, if you enter “box” in the Search field, the results will include “boxcar” but will not include “mailbox,” because “box” is not part of the beginning of that word.

You can set Mail preferences to include the Trash and Junk mailboxes, and encrypted messages, when you search all mailboxes. Choose Mail > Preferences, click General, and then select the checkboxes at the bottom of the pane.

Last Modified: Oct 30, 2013
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  • Last Modified: Oct 30, 2013
  • Article: PH4833
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