Mail Search Not Working on MacOS: How to fix it

If you are using MacOS and have trouble finding the specific email you are looking for in your Mail application’s search bar, you are not alone. Sometimes, despite having the correct search term, the result doesn’t show any matching emails. This can be a frustrating experience, especially if you rely on your email for work.

In this article, we’ll break down the possible causes of this glitch in MacOS and provide you with tips and tricks on how to resolve it.

Common issues that may cause Mail search not to work on MacOS

There could be several reasons why Mail’s search is not functioning correctly on your MacOS. Here are a few common ones:

Indexing issue

One of the most common reasons Mail search may not be working correctly is that your index is either damaged or incomplete. Indexing is Mail’s way of categorizing your email to make it easier to search.

Incomplete or outdated mailbox

If there are emails that have not been downloaded in your Mac, search results may not display all matches. This usually happens when you have set your Mail preferences to download emails only manually.

Spotlight issue

The search in Mail relies on the Spotlight system to search through your emails, so if Spotlight is not indexing Mail, it could cause the search function not to work.

Other issues

It is also possible that an outdated Mail app, a conflicting plug-in, or incorrect settings could hinder your Mail search from working correctly.

Effective ways to fix Mail search problems on MacOS

Thankfully, there are a few simple and straightforward ways to fix your Mail search on MacOS. Here are some of them:

Re-indexing your Mailbox

This is the most effective solution for fixing a damaged or incomplete index. To re-index your mailbox, follow these steps:

1. First, quit the Mail app.
2. Open Finder, then hit the Go menu.
3. Hold down the Option key and click Library.
4. Select the Mail folder, then right-click the envelope index and choose Move to Trash.
5. Reopen Mail. Note that re-indexing may take some time, so be patient.

Update your MacOS

Sometimes, search issues are the result of an outdated version of MacOS. Check if your Mac has any updates by opening System Preferences > Software update. Make sure to keep your MacOS and Mail app updated to the latest version.

Reset Spotlight

If your mailbox indexing is complete and up-to-date, but Mail search is still not working, reset the Spotlight by following the steps below:

1. Go to System Preferences > Spotlight.
2. Select the Privacy tab.
3. Drag the Mail folder or the whole hard drive into the list to exclude it from Spotlight indexing.
4. Remove the folder or hard drive from the list.
5. Close System Preferences and wait until Spotlight has finished indexing.


Mail search not working on MacOS can be frustrating, but it’s usually fixable. The tips outlined in this article should help you resolve your search problem, but if none of them work, consider consulting Apple Support.

FAQs about Mail Search Not Working on MacOS

How do I know when my Mail index is incomplete or damaged?

If your Mail index is incomplete or damaged, you may experience symptoms such as slow searching, missing search results, or unresponsive search.

How long does re-indexing take?

Re-indexing your mailbox may take some time, depending on the number of emails you have. It’s best to leave your Mac idle and let Mail re-index overnight.

What should I do if Mail still doesn’t work after re-indexing?

If Mail search still doesn’t work despite re-indexing, try restarting your Mac, resetting your Spotlight, updating your Mail app, or consulting Apple Support for further assistance.



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Peter Graham
Peter Graham
Hi there! I'm Peter, a software engineer and tech enthusiast with over 10 years of experience in the field. I have a passion for sharing my knowledge and helping others understand the latest developments in the tech world. When I'm not coding, you can find me hiking or trying out the latest gadgets.


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