Improve your iPhone Mail searches with these four tips

If you have an e-mail inbox that stretches back years and years, searching for a particular e-mail can be a challenge, particularly when using the iPhone Mail app. Many times, my search query returns dozens or hundreds of results, and I find it difficult to sift through them on the small screen of my iPhone 4S (and I don’t see it getting much easier next month when my current Verizon contract expires and I upgrade to an iPhone 5S and its slightly larger screen).

Thankfully, there is a handful of search parameters you can use to limit the number of results a search yields. David Chartier of the Finer Things in Tech found a most useful Apple Support page that contains four tips for using Spotlight Search with the iOS Mail app.

Spotlight understands sender vs. recipient, dates, and if a message has been read or flagged, so you can use these parameters to get targeted search results. It gives four examples:

Flagged june 2013
Searches for all flagged messages from june 2013, as well as for messages containing these words

Unread last week from:@icloud.com
Searches all unread messages from last week where the sender’s e-mail ends with @icloud.com, as well as messages containing these words

Vip read yesterday
Searches all read messages from contacts marked as VIPs, as well as messages containing these words

to:appleseed monday
Searches all messages sent on Monday to a contact named “Appleseed,” or an e-mail address starting with appleseed, as well as messages containing these words

The phrase at the end of each of these four tips — “as well as messages containing these words” — is worth noting. I found that each of these tips helped narrow the number of search results, but I also found that the results often included many e-mails because they contained one or more of my search terms. Still, e-mails within the search parameters are listed at the top of the results, with e-mails only containing a word or two of your search terms listed below.

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