A Guide to Mastering Search Options in Mac Mail

Master the art of email searching in Mac Mail with our guide. Learn basic to advanced search options to find exactly what you need.

A Guide to Mastering Search Options in Mac Mail

We receive hundreds of emails per day. In fact, statistics say that one person receives, on average, 121 emails per day. Since email is the primary channel for official, business, and personal communication, our inboxes often contain important information we don’t want to lose. 

Whether it’s the itinerary of your next trip, an important update from your boss, or the password to your tax account, you’ll want to be able to find what you’re looking for without having to browse through every single email in your inbox. 

That’s where the search feature comes in. If you’re using Apple Mail as your primary email client, you can use the search option to find the emails you’re looking for. In this article, we’ll cover how to use the Mac Mail search options efficiently. 


Can You Search for Emails on Mac Mail? 

The answer is yes – Apple Mail comes with a built-in search option on every device. 

If you’re using Apple Mail on your Mac computer, you can find the search icon in the top right corner of the Mail app, right next to the toolbar. On the iPhone app, the search bar should appear at the top of the screen (if it doesn’t, dragging the screen down will reveal it). 

Searching in Mac Mail is as simple as clicking on the search bar and typing your query. Mac Mail’s search is intuitive and even understands natural language. For example, you can type “emails from John last month,” and the search will return the emails that match your query.

If you need to refine your search further, Mac Mail offers advanced search filters. You can filter by date, sender, subject, and more. These filters can be accessed by clicking on the small triangle next to the search bar, revealing a dropdown menu with various options.

Why Use Mac Mail Search Options?  

Of course, the main reason to use the search bar in Apple Mail is to find the information you’re looking for in your inbox without having to read every single email you have ever received. 

But aside from the obvious, here are some reasons why you may want to master Mac Mail search options. 

  • Quickly locate information: Mac Mail’s search options allow users to quickly find specific emails in a cluttered inbox. By narrowing down search criteria, such as sender, subject, or date, users can pinpoint the exact information they need without scrolling through dozens of messages manually. 
  • Find the exact information: Mac Mail’s advanced search options provide users with precise control over their email searches. Whether searching for a specific attachment, email from a particular sender, or messages within a specific timeframe, these options enable users to filter search results with more precision. 
  • Organize your inbox: By mastering Apple Mail’s search options, users can effectively organize their inboxes and manage emails more efficiently. Whether archiving, deleting, or categorizing emails based on search results, users can maintain a clutter-free inbox at all times. 

How to Search for Emails on Mac Mail

At this point, you may be wondering how to effectively use the search options in Mac Mail to find the exact information or attachment you’re looking for. Here are some ways to make your search queries more precise. 

Use Multiple Search Filters 

You can use multiple search filters to refine the search results in Apple Mail. Simply start typing your search text in the search bar and then click on one of the options that appear, like sender or subject, to adjust your search. 

Search by Dates

To find emails within a certain date range, just type the desired date range in the search bar like this: 02/04/2023 to 19/04/2023. This instructs Mac Mail to retrieve emails you sent or received within that specified timeframe. 

Use Boolean Operators

Using Boolean operators in Mac Mail’s search options allows for precise control over your email searches. In case you’re wondering, Boolean operators are simple words like AND, OR, NOT, and AND NOT used in a search query to either combine or exclude keywords. 

Here’s how to use them: 

  • AND: Use the AND operator to combine multiple terms. For example, “invoice AND paid” will return all emails containing both “invoice” and “paid.”
  • OR: The OR operator will return emails containing either of the terms. For instance, “meeting OR conference” will show emails that mention either “meeting” or “conference.”
  • NOT or AND NOT: Use NOT or AND NOT to exclude certain terms. For example, “holiday NOT Christmas” will return emails that mention “holiday” but not “Christmas,” and “project proposal AND NOT draft” will return emails containing the keywords “project proposal” but exclude those with the term “draft.”

Use Attribute Search

In Apple Mail, you can search emails by various attributes. By typing keywords like “flag,” “unread,” or “attachment” into the search bar and selecting the corresponding options, you can quickly locate specific types of emails. 

For instance, searching for “flag” will display all flagged emails. Similarly, searching for “unread” will show all unread emails. 

Search by Subject or Sender

Simply type the name of a message header field followed by a colon and the specific value you’re searching for. Apple Mail will then display relevant suggestions based on your input. 

To search within the email subject, use “subject:” followed by your keyword. For instance, typing “subject:invoice” will return all emails containing the word “invoice” in their subject line. 

You can also use “from:” and “to:” followed by an email address to search for emails from or to a specific person. For example, entering “from:[email protected]” will display all emails sent by John. 

Make Nested Queries

You can make nested queries in Apple Mail by combining different attributes and operators for more intricate searches. 

You can combine attributes and operators to group expressions by using parentheses in the following way: “(from:[email protected] OR from:[email protected]) AND subject:meeting. This query will locate all emails related to meetings from either John or Jane. 

Tips and Tricks to Effectively Use Search on Apple Mail

Although using Apple Mail’s search options is pretty simple and straightforward, there are some things you should keep in mind. Here are some practical tips and tricks to effectively use the search functionality on Apple Mail.

Save Your Searches

If you find yourself frequently using the same search queries, you can save them as a smart mailbox. This way, you can access your search results instantly without having to type in the query again.

To do that, simply use the search bar to perform a search. Once you’ve refined your search query to get the results you want, click the “Save” button next to the search bar. Then, give your smart mailbox a descriptive name so you can easily refer back to it. 

Use Correct Filters 

Make sure you’re using the correct filters for your search. Using search filters incorrectly can not only lead to zero or irrelevant results but also overlook crucial emails or inundate your search with unrelated emails. 

Use Advanced Search Operators 

Mastering advanced search operators, such as AND, OR, NOT, and parentheses, can help you refine your search queries and find exactly what you’re looking for in Apple Mail much quicker. 

Search Options Mac Mail, the Bottom Line

If you rely on Apple Mail to send and receive your emails, mastering the search options can help you find and access the information you’re looking for in your inbox much faster. 

Although using the search bar in your Mail app is pretty simple and straightforward, there are some tips and tricks you can use to unlock more advanced search options and get better search results. 

By learning how to use specific search criteria and keywords, you can efficiently locate important emails and spend less time browsing your inbox to find what you’re looking for. 

Mac Mail Search Options, the FAQs

❓How do I make Apple Mail search better?

To improve Apple Mail’s search capabilities, use specific keywords while performing the search, refine your search results using filters, and save frequently used searches as smart mailboxes for quick access. 

❓Can you do an advanced search in Apple Mail?

Yes, Apple Mail supports advanced search functionality. You can refine your search queries using operators such as AND, OR, NOT, and parentheses to narrow down search results and find the information you’re looking for more efficiently. 

❓How do I change my search in Apple Mail?

To modify your search criteria in Apple Mail, simply click on the search bar to edit and refine your search terms. You can also adjust filters and search options to tailor the results to your preferences.

❓How do I search for a specific word in Apple Mail?

To search for a specific word or phrase in Apple Mail, type the keyword into the search bar at the top of the window. Apple Mail will then display all emails containing that word or phrase, which will allow you to locate the specific piece of information you’re looking for. 

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