Getting more out of search
Back in April, we did a post that just began to scratch the surface of what you can do with search in Yahoo! Mail. A few weeks ago, we were talking about search shortcuts in the Y-Mail Group and I agreed to do a more detailed post on what’s available. So, as my man Emeril likes to say, let’s kick it up a notch.
You may not realize it, but the search box in Yahoo! Mail is more powerful than you probably think. Sure, you could type in something simple like reservation and you might find what you’re looking for. But if you’re like me and have 20,000 messages in your Inbox, a query like that might give you more results than you can handle. If you want to really dig into your mailbox, I have some helpful tips to help you find the smallest of needles in your haystack of a mailbox.
For instance, I want to find a particular message sent to me about a reservation (I recently traveled to India for the first time). The problem is, this one is from a hotel and my search for reservation keeps turning up all of my airline reservations. Easy enough, let’s just remove the airline results. I can do this with the minus (“-”) modifier, changing my search to reservation -airline. This finds all messages with the word “reservation” that don’t include the word “airline”.
Better yet, I know who sent me the message. In this case, I can use the “from:” shortcut to indicate that I only want to search for messages that are from a particular sender. For instance, I’m staying at The Acme Hotel. I want to find the reservation they sent me, so I search for reservation from:firstname.lastname@example.org. This will find all messages sent to me by The Acme Hotel with the word “reservation” somewhere in the message. The “from:” doesn’t have to be an email address either, I can use the full name (assuming it was sent with the full name). To do so, I would search for reservation from:”the acme hotel”. The minus modifier also works with the “from:” shortcut. It allows me to indicate I don’t want to see messages from a particular sender.
Now I suddenly realize, I already sent mail to the reservations desk at The Acme Hotel. Unfortunately I don’t remember what I said. No problem, I’ll use the “to:” shortcut. This allows me to find messages sent to a particular person. This can be quite useful when I want to search my Sent folder. Just search for to:email@example.com.
So I have my hotel squared away…but where’s my flight itinerary? I remember seeing it once, it was attached to a mail message from the airline. Unfortunately, I have a ton of messages from the airline. But not all of them have attachments. Using the “attachmentcount:” shortcut, I can search for all messages with one or more attachments. Just search for from:firstname.lastname@example.org attachmentcount:>0. This finds all messages sent from email@example.com that have more than one attachment (attachment count is greater than zero).
Hmm…it appears the airline has sent me quite a few attachments over the years. Fortunately, I remember the file they sent me was a PDF. Now I can use the “attachmenttype:” modifier to search exclusively for PDF attachments. I type in from:firstname.lastname@example.org attachmenttype:pdf and I’m good to go. This will return only those messages from email@example.com that contain a PDF attachment.
Rats, no PDFs sent from the airline. Maybe I had it wrong…maybe it wasn’t a PDF after all. No worries, the attachment file name probably has the word “reservation” in it somewhere. Instead of searching on the type of the attachment, I’ll search on the name. Search for attachmentname:reservation and I get back a list of every message containing an attachment with the word “reservation” in the file name.
Well, as I mentioned…I have a lot of reservation messages so that really didn’t narrow it down. I know, I’ll search for the name of the airline inside the attachments using the “attachment:” shortcut. Search for attachment:”acme airlines” and I get back a list of every message containing an attachment that contains “acme airlines” within it. Let me go back and say that again in case you missed it: it searches inside your attachments for the query you request.
Okay, this was a pretty contrived example, but you get the idea. Yahoo! Mail search is really powerful and allows you to heavily customize your search to find what you need. Seem too complicated for you? We understand, manually typing in these shortcuts is really a power user thing. But don’t feel left out, we’re working on making the full power of Yahoo! Mail search easier to access in future versions of Yahoo! Mail Beta.
Now if only it would tell me where I left my keys.
UPDATE: I’ve created a page that lists the search shortcuts in a table to make them a little easier to reference.
Yahoo! Mail Beta Evangelist