Searching in Mac Mail OS X 10.7 Lion

Mail icon

In a previous article I talked about the productivity benefits that come from slimming down the number of Mail folders you use to store your mail messages. These days searching is so much quicker than trying to remember in which folder you saved a particular message. The new Mac Mail client in Lion OS X 10.7 has some useful new search functionality to help.

The Mail search box is in the top right of the Mail window. When you start to type, an auto-suggest drop down will appear, offering different contexts to search for a message. These include People, Subject, Attachments and Dates. When you start to type it already is trying to match words and phrases not only in your emails, but also people in your address book.

Mail 10 7 Auto Suggest

I want to locate an email from my daughter’s school that has the date of her Ski trip in it. All I need to type is ‘Cols’, instead of typing the whole name of my daughter’s school. I can see that Mail has already narrowed my search to just a few entries. I can click on the name I want and Mail will create a Token in the search box.

Mail Token

The tokens (with the exception of the date) will give you additional options by clicking on the small downward facing arrow before the term. You can select from the following contexts;

  • From (for people)
  • To (for people)
  • Subject
  • Entire Message

Mail Token Drop Down

You can also enter a date to narrow the search. As the school runs ski trips each year I want to narrow the search down to 2011, and enter that as a Token by clicking 2011 under Dates.

I now need to enter ‘Ski Trip’ as a search term and I used the Token drop down to change the search from ‘Subject’ to ‘Entire Message’. Now Mail has searched through all my mail folders and just returned a couple of entries completing my search in a few seconds.

Mail completed search
It is also possible to save your search as a Smart Mailbox by clicking the Save button.

Mail saved Search

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