Thunderbird:Help Documentation:Finding Information in Messages

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Using the Quick Search Box

Thunderbird makes it easy to search your messages.

To quickly search the contents of a folder, simply start typing in the Quick Search Box near the top right corner of the main application window [screenshot].

Click the magnifying glass icon [screenshot] to search for messages with specific properties. The Quick Search Box allows you to search the following:

  • Subject
  • Sender
  • Recipients (To or Cc)
  • Body

As you type, Thunderbird searches your messages for those which fit the search criteria, and displays them in the main message list. Messages that do not fit your criteria are temporarily hidden. To clear your search criteria and show all messages again, click on the Close button [screenshot] which appears in the Quick Search Box.

Using Mail Views

Thunderbird also allows you to view all the messages in a folder which fit the criteria you specify. For instance, you can quickly show only messages which are unread, or which you have labelled as Important.

To do this, click on the View: list right above the main message list, then click a view. In the main message list, Thunderbird immediately displays all the messages which match the criteria you choose, and temporarily hides the other messages.

Thunderbird provides the following pre-set views:

  • All: Shows all messages.
  • Unread: Shows unread messages only. Messages which you have already read are hidden.
  • Label views: Shows only those messages which you have previously labelled as Important, Work, Personal, To Do or Later. (You can also create your own labels: [link to help topic].) Unlabelled messages are hidden.
  • People I Know: Shows only messages from people in your address book. Messages from other senders are hidden.
  • Recent Mail: Only shows messages less than a day old. Older messages are hidden.
  • Last 5 Days: Only shows messages less than five days old. Older messages are hidden.
  • Not Junk: Only shows messages which have not been marked as junk mail (either by Thunderbird or by you). Messages marked as junk are hidden.
  • Has Attachments: Only shows messages which have attachments. Other messages are hidden.

Customizing Views

You can create your own views and add them to the View: list. For instance, you could create a view which displays only those messages from a list of senders that you specify, or which shows only unread messages labelled as To Do from the last 5 days. You can also modify or delete views that you have already created.

To create, modify or customise views, click Customize… in the View: list or choose View > Messages > Customize….

For more information about customizing views, [click here].

More Advanced Searches

Thunderbird allows you to search your messages using very precise, advanced criteria. To do this:

  1. Choose Edit > Find > Search Messages…, or right-click the name of any folder and choose Search messages…. The Search Messages dialog box appears.
  2. In this dialog box, use the Search for messages in: list to specify which folder to search.
  3. Specify whether or not you want to search subfolders within the specified folder. (This option is checked by default.)
  4. In the upper area of the dialog box, specify your search criteria.
    1. You can search messages by properties such as size (for instance, larger than 100KB) and date (for instance, received in the last 3 days).
    2. You can also search for specific text in the message subject or body.
    3. You can specify multiple criteria by clicking the '+' buttons [screenshot], or remove criteria by clicking the '-' buttons [screenshot]. If you specify multiple criteria, you can instruct Thunderbird to search for messages that match either any' or all of the criteria.
  5. Click the Search button to begin your search.
    1. When Thunderbird finds messages that meet your criteria, they are listed in the lower area of the dialog box.
    2. Click a message in this list to select it. You can then use the buttons at the bottom of the dialog box to open, file or delete the selected message.

To clear all the criteria you have entered so far, click Clear at the top right.

Creating your own Saved Search folders

If you regularly carry out a particular search, you can save that search as a Saved Search folder. Saved Search folders behave like ordinary message folders, but they only contain messages which match the criteria you specify. For more information, [click here].