Indexing and searching

Indexing and searching

One of PowerMail's most powerful features is the ability to index and rapidly search local message content (or content of IMAP messages that have been read and stored in the local cache) for user-defined search terms. PowerMail is able to do this using CTM FoxTrot™, a specially-developed technology for efficient indexing and extremely rapid searching.

Indexing messages

Indexing is done automatically when messages are retrieved from the server. If you have disabled automatic indexing from the preferences, you can update the index manually from the File / Database submenu. You can also compact it to speed up certain operations.

To disable automatic indexing:

  1. Choose Preferences from the PowerMail menu. The Preferences dialog appears.
  2. Select Indexing & Spelling from the list of preference categories on the left side of the Preferences dialog. The Indexing preferences pane is displayed.
  3. Uncheck "Automatically index messages in the background".

To update or compact the index manually (whether or not automatic indexing is enabled):

Choose "Update Search Index", or "Compact Search Index" from the Database hierarchical menu in the File menu.

If your database is partially indexed (because automatic indexing is turned off), "Update Search Indexes" will index the unindexed messages. "Compact Search Index" will reclaim space used by deleted messages, and will optimize the index; you may need to do this if your index is getting slow.

If your index does not work as expected, you can reindex your whole database from the PowerMail First Aid dialog (see Troubleshooting)

Searching messages

Searching is very powerful. You can search for precise criteria, such as the sender or the date, or you can search by content to find every message containing some words.

Chose "Search Messages..." from the "Find" submenu of the "Edit" menu. The Search dialog appears.

Choose the search domain by selecting one of the options in the location popup menu. The default choice is to search the local mail database, but you may wish to restrict the search to one or multiple particular folders, or to an IMAP folder (only IMAP messages that have been read, and whose content is saved in the local IMAP cache will be searched by content. For the other IMAP messages, only the subject and From fields will be searched).

You can specify multiple criteria to search for, by clicking the + button. In this case, you will search for messages that match all the specified criteria.

Search by content criteria

The Content, Subject, From, To, From or To, and Body criteria let you search for messages that contains the specified words in the specified fields (or in any of these fields if you choose "Content").

Words and numbers are taken into account, but not punctuation or other special characters. For example, an email address or URL is considered as several words: info@ctmdev.com is the same as info ctmdev com.

By default, PowerMail searches exact word match, but if you append an asterisk ( * ) at the end of a word, it will match any word that starts with this one. For example, fox* will match both fox, foxes, and FoxTrot. You can put an asterisk at the beginning of a word to search any word that ends with these characters, or you can enclose the word with asterisks to search any word that contains with these characters. For example, *box* will match box, boxer, shoebox, or shoeboxes.

Asian text (chinese, japanese and korean) is searched as a single word, unless if it contains some spaces or punctuation characters to separate search words.

If you specify multiple words to search for, the messages that contain all the words in a single phrase, or near to each other, will get a higher relevance rank. The messages that contain the words in the subject will also get a higher relevance rank, while the messages that contains the words only in quoted text (lines starting with one or several > characters) get a lower relevance rank.

Here is an explanation of the different search by content criteria:

  • Includes all of the words: search for messages that contain all the specified words, in any order.
  • Includes at least one of the words: search for messages that contain at least one of the specified words. The messages that contains all the words will get a higher relevance rank. If you search for a frequent word and a less frequent one, the messages that contain the unfrequent word will get a higher relevance rank than those that contain only the frequent word.
  • Includes the exact phrase: search for messages that contain all the words in the specified order, even if there is some punctuation or end of paragraph between two words. This criterion is especially useful to search for an email address or URL.
  • Does not include the words: this criterion can only be used in conjunction with one of the 3 previous criteria, and will exclude from the result the messages that contain any of the specified word. For example, you can search for messages that "includes all of the words: london" and "does not include the words: ontario" if you search for messages related to the british city and not the canadian one.
  • Matches the search pattern: you can add multiple criteria to execute complex searches (see below), but you could find it easier or more powerful to specify a complex search in a single search string. That is the purpose of this criterion. By default, it will work like "includes all of the words", unless when you use some special characters. See the FoxTrot Search Patterns Help for a detailed description of the special characters.
    For example: pizza margherita | margarita "few cheese" pepper | spic* | "chili powder" -bacon -ham -"very spicy" is equivalent to:
    • Includes all of the words: pizza
    • Includes at least one of the words: margherita margarita
    • Includes the exact phrase: few cheese
    • Includes at least one of the words: pepper spic* "chili powder"
    • Does not include the words: bacon ham
    • Does not include the exact phrase: very spicy

You can add multiple search by content criteria (using the + button) on the same field, or on different fields. For example, you can search for messages whose From field contains John or Bob, and whose body contains the phrase New York, and contains Brooklyn or Manhattan, and does not contain Chicago.

Search for other criteria

You can combine the search by content with some other criteria:

Date sent or Date received: you can specify either an absolute date (01/01/03) or a relative one (2 weeks old). For draft messages, the "date received" is the date the message was saved. For sent messages, it is the date sent. To specify a date range, click the + button to use a second date criterion.

You can also search by label, account, or status (incoming, unread, read, or outgoing).


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