More flexible Mail searching

Reader Raguvaran R seeks more than Spotlight is willing to provide. He writes:

I use Apple’s Mail. I love it with one major exception—it has a terrible search function. What I’d love is a program where I can add layers to the search—search for messages from a particular sender as well as something specific in the message body. Any suggestions?

When presented with the “I’m looking for a better way to search…” query, I’m usually able to offer an answer before that query reaches its inevitable punctuated end with this single almost-word: “HoudahSpot.”

Houdah Software’s $30 HoudahSpot ( ) uses the data collected by Spotlight and allows you to create complex searches of that data. In this case you could create a HodahSpot query that searches for a particular e-mail address (the sender) and a particular string of text within messages from that sender. You can choose where on your Mac you want to search (your Home or Documents folder, for example) and you can limit the number of results you see. Additionally, you can save your searches as templates. Should you need to return to a search—or modify it when you need to scour your mail for different content or sender—you can easily call up that template.

A more focused search of Mail with HoudahSpot.

HoudahSpot is a separate application so you can’t call on it directly from within Mail. However, you can use QuickLook to preview results and when you find the one you’re after, just double-click on it to open the message in Mail.

Rob Griffiths reviewed HoudahSpot 2 in 2008 and it’s only gotten better. Download the demo and see if it provides the solution you’re after.

  
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