Mail Search Not working on Mac, Fix
Several users have said that the Mail search is not working as expected on the Mac. Users have further said that the search results don’t appear as expected. For example, the results do not include older emails. And sometimes, searching mails get no results at all, or Mail search returns unexpected results. Some users have said that they only began experiencing this problem after updating their Mac. In this article, we explain what you can do if your Mail app search function seems broken or has seemingly stopped working.
- Follow the steps for when Mac Mail keeps crashing.
- If you’re having difficulty in the Mail app, follow the steps to fix missing trash folder, flags, and search issues.
Check for updates
The first step you should do is to check for macOS updates. And ensure that your Mac has the latest version of the software. You can update and check for updates by going to System Preferences > Software Update. If there is an update available, then follow the screen instructions.
Quit and restart
If updating the Mac does not fix, then try these steps:
- Quit the Mail app. You can choose Quit from the app’s menu (Mail > Quit Mail) or you can press Command (⌘)-Q.
- Now press and hold the Shift key, while pressing the Shift key, open the Mail app.
- Quit the Mail app again.
- Again open the app while pressing the Shift key.
- Quit Mail again.
- Now restart your Mac (Apple menu > Restart).
- Now open the Mail app and do a search and test to see if you have fixed your problem.
You can try to build your Mailbox. If you have multiple Mailboxes, rebuild for each one of your Mailboxes. Here is how:
- Open the Mail app.
- Select your Mailbox.
- Click the Mailbox menu.
- At the bottom of the menu, click the Rebuild option.
Then wait until the process is completed. A progress bar will appear.
The next step in fixing broken Mail search is to rebuild your Spotlight indexing. Here is how:
- Go to System Preferences, then click Spotlight.
- Remove Mail & Messages from the spotlight search settings by unchecking its box.
- Then restart your Mac.
- And go to System Preferences > Spotlight and recheck the Mail & Messages box.
If rebuilding Spotlight does not help you, you can also do this via Terminal. Here is how:
- Quit Mail.
- Open the Terminal app (Applications > Utilities) and enter the following command and hit enter. This will stop and flush the indexes:
sudo mdutil -i off -E /
- Enter your passcode if asked. Then enter to following command to verify:
sudo mdutil -s /
- Then enter the following command to reindex:
sudo mdutil -i on /
- Again enter the following command to verify:
sudo mdutil -s /
Now we will clear the Mail.app indexes. Here is how:
- Open your Library folder:
- In Finder, click Go > Go to Folder.
- In the box, type ~/Library and click Go.
- Click and open the Mail folder.
- Open the V8 folder (depending on your version, it can be V7, if Catalina, etc). If it is Big Sur, it is V8, the next version will be V9, etc.
- Click and open the MailData folder.
- Find Envelope Index files and drag them to the Trash. And empty the Trash.
- Restart your Mac.
- Open Mail and test your issue with searching Mail.
If you are still having this problem, you can try resetting the SMC and restarting your Mac in Safe Mode.
Quit and Restart worked! Thanks for a simple and quick fix. I also read the other solutions – I like the step-by-step simple explanations. Thankfully, I didn’t have to use them.
Re-indexing was the step that fixed my mail search. I tried all the others first. Thanks for your help.
Mailbox rebuild as described above worked after this problem occurred installing Monterey.
My Mac will no longer search my mail (multiple mailboxes) or history. Spotlight search works. Cannot find a fix for that issue. Don’t want to rebuild mailboxes. Tried SMC a few times, only works temporarily.
My Spotlight is working fine. My mail has been an issue for a long time. Apple told me to reset the SMC. I have done this a few times, and sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. When I search mail on my Mac it doesn’t find anything I am searching for, even simple senders whom I get daily emails from. I am concerned that constantly resetting the SMC is not good for my Mac. I need this to work. Do not want to rebuild my emails. Years ago, I lost 40,000 emails from doing that, following a techs step-by-step, live. Won’t do it again.