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Sevag Pogharian Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

Searching through the thousands of emails on my laptop used to be easy with Snow Leopard.  Within seconds I would search through entire messages, or who I sent to, or received from, or by subject.  That simplicity seems to have been bleached out of Lion.  Is anybody else having trouble with email search on Lion or is it just me?

  • dwb Level 7 Level 7 (21,475 points)

    Search is different in the new version but I think better. Type in your search word or phrase and notice that you'll see some finds drop down from the search box in real time. Select one of those. You'll now see some blue text in front of that criteria.


    For example, I might want an email I received from Steve Jobs about the poker winnings he owes me. I'd type Jobs and lots of things would drop down including people with the name containing jobs, subjects that contain jobs, and message text that contains jobs. I select Steve Jobs. Now in the text box I'd see:


    From: Steve Jobs


    And the cursor is still in the search box. Now I type Poker and from the drop down list select Your Poker Winnings. Now in the search text box I'd see:


    From: Steve Jobs Subject: Your Poker Winnings.


    Over on the left side of the ToolBar I can still select where to search: Sent, All, InBox etc. If that hasn't winnowed the my list I can type in more search criteria.

  • deldred Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I agree Sevag, I have the same problem.  If I search for my friend "Martha", I only get the latest email she sent me in the results.  It doesn't show any of the emails she send me in the past years. They are clearly there as I scoll down and look, but not in the search results.

  • Sevag Pogharian Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    deldred:  Yes.  I conducted several tests with sample search terms.  Emails in which the sample search term definitely appears are not returned among the search results.  The search results are, at times, incomplete.

  • Sevag Pogharian Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    dwb:  Thank you for your well-written explanation.  An example of a frustration that I'm experiencing is as follows:  If I want to search the entire message of my emails for, say, the word "wonderful," when I start typing "wonderful" in Mail's search field, some finds do indeed drop down from the search box in real time.  These finds, however, are only in the categories of people and subjects.  Hence, I cannot search entire messages of my emails for this word.

  • Rory Smith Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    I am experiencing similar problems and am about to give the advice on this thread a try:



    Maybe it would work for you.

  • dwb Level 7 Level 7 (21,475 points)

    Rory (who posted below) caught a good possibility that I didn't consider - Spotlight needing to be reindexed.


    BTW, the search tokens I described above are how you specify your search is a sender or a subject. By default what you type for the search is looking for message text (and maybe subjects and senders altogether). So if I were looking for the email in which Jobs had given me the combination to his petty cash so I could get my poker winnings from him, after doing the above search to get all the emails from him with the topic Poker Winnings, I'd then type combination to get that specific email.


    It is a different way to search but once I figured it out - wow.

  • Rory Smith Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    I'm not at home yet to try out reindexing but I have the suspicion it might not work. I think that because at the moment, if I use the main finder spotlight search, I can find a specified email from 'Kostas' for example, but when I search 'Kostas' in Mail it doesn't find anything even though I can scroll down and find it in a conversation. Interestingly the email I'm talking about now only shows up in the conversation thread more recently than the original email is dated.


    Any thoughts greatly appreciated.



  • Sevag Pogharian Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    Here's another flaw with the OS X Lion Mail search feature:


    When I type a person's name in the search field and select "message containing" from the drop-down options, I get a set of search results that is smaller than if I select "people" from the the same drop-down options.  In other words, "message containing" doesn't produce all the emails containing that person's name.

  • dwb Level 7 Level 7 (21,475 points)

    Mail's search seems to break emails into several components, who it is from, the subject, the message itself, and attachments. When you start typing in the text box you are searching the message text. When you select People or Subject from the dropdown menu you are specifying what part of the message to search.


    So if I type Steve Jobs in the search box all I'll find are messages whose text contain his name but I won't find any messages from him until I select him from the People dropdown. It is different from what we are used to but it works.

  • Sevag Pogharian Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    Hello dwb:  I understand what you mean, unfortunately it doesn't seem consistent.  When I search a person's name by "Message containing," the app returns some emails by that person but not all.  It doesn't return some emails to or from that person eventhough her name appears in the body of the text in the form of, say, a text signature.

  • dwb Level 7 Level 7 (21,475 points)

    Interesting - and so far something I haven't replicated - of course it could also be like hunting for a needle in a haystack. There could be a message I'm not finding and I wouldn't know about, it, eh? But so far every search I've made I've found what I wanted.

  • Morrey Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I found another issue with the search function. I've noticed the search results do not include email messages placed in an archive folder I've created on my mac. Only messages which are located in the actual inboxes and sent items are included in the search items.


    I can also confirm that the "from" list is incomplete. I've the idea that only contacts which are listed in the MS Exchange directory (of my university) are listed, in addition to my own contacts. Senders which I haven't saved in my contact list are missing.


    Interesting to not is that spotlight is able to find the messages which are not listed via the Mail search.


    Another thing: "entire message" does not include sender information: for instance, mails from dropbox only show up if I select "From", but not when I select "entire message". This is counter intuitive in my opinion. BTW, I just see that the term "dropbox" is almost always included in the main text, so it should show up, even if "entire message" does not search through the "From" section.


    I find the new search function quite horrible to use. I hope someone is able to point out what I'm doing wrongly.



    I just created a new mailbox and moved a couple of "old" (pre-lion-received) messages which I was not able to find previously into the new mailbox and guess what happened: I now am able to find via the search funciton


    UPDATE 2:

    I think something went wrong when I upgraded to Lion. I've rebuilded all my old mailboxes and it now works fine. You can do the same by selecting your mailbox and click Mailbox -> Rebuild.


    Message was edited by: Morrey

  • tswain Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I was having all the same symptoms.  I followed your advice and "Rebuilt" my mailboxes.  It worked like a charm!  Cheers.

  • Eric from LA Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I am having the same problem and it is seriously affecting my work!!!

    I have tried everything.

    I have done a clean install of Lion and brought everything back with time machine.

    I have reindexed spotlight.  I have rebuilt the mailboxes.

    Houdasport above does not work for me.

    in the mail search, it will find few or no emails from peole that I have 100s of emails from.

    Main spotlight serach shows no email hits -- although prefences includes mail.

    I have mostly pop email accounts.

    I called Apple and they sent to engineering and waiting for response.

    I was excited for 10.7.1 but NO help.

    Please help if you have found a solution.



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