Search (advanced search)

ProtonMail provides several ways for you to search through your messages. This article describes how search in ProtonMail works.

ProtonMail can search by subject lines, sender, recipient, and the time of messages. Because ProtonMail uses end-to-end encryption, we cannot read any of your messages or attachments, and therefore we currently cannot search through the message body. However, you can search through message bodies if you use the ProtonMail Bridge (coming soon).

What is currently searched when I type into the search box at the top of my page?

Advanced Search on ProtonMail

At this time this search returns results for:

  • Recipient email addresses
  • Sender email addresses
  • Subjects
  • Dates message was sent/received
  • Folder (Location)
  • Attachments (only yes/no, not the name of the attachment)

You can add search parameters for each of these fields individually by clicking the down arrow in the search box.

When you search in this box, the searching parameter is “and”. This means when you want to search for a message sent from xyz@xyz.com between the dates of x/y/z and y/x/z with attachments, you will select the option to do so.

This is in contrast to all messages from xyz@xyz.com *or* between the dates of x/y/z and y/x/z *or* with attachments.

Advanced Syntax Search

ProtonMail also supports complex searches using more advanced syntax for power users. Special characters can be used to execute complex logic when performing searches on your message metadata (the Subject, To/CC/BCC, and From fields).

Logical AND is implicit between any two search keywords (searching for ‘hello world’ means match ‘hello’ AND ‘world’). The other search operators are:

Advanced Search Syntax Table

Exact Match Searches

When you search for a keyword in ProtonMail, by default, we assume it is a wildcard search. In programmatic terms, when you are searching for ‘keyword’, you are actually searching for ‘*keyword*’. This means that if you are searching for emails from johnsmith@protonmail.com, typing in ‘john’ or ‘smith’ will both show results for ‘johnsmith@protonmail.com’. If you would like to disable this behavior and search for an exact string, you can uncheck the box for “Don’t require exact match”.

 

turn off wildcards. Similar to fuzzy search

If you prefer to always use the exact match mode, it is possible to make this the default setting for your account by going to Settings –> Account –> Search

 

require exact match protonmail search

ProtonMail also offers labels/folders and filters for organizing your inbox.

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22 comments

  1. ovisicnarf

    Obviously I would like to see Search in body of email. In fact that is a must to make this a viable email solution for me and stop using gmail for a lot of communication.
    Search within a certain label, or within a set of labels would be a preferred solution. In this way the search can made more contextual by the end user.
    Search in attachments (so provide an indexing capability for attachment).
    Thank you.

  2. Hal

    Yes +1,
    Search of the text in the body of an e-mail is a no-brainer. This really needs to be put in place.
    If you also take into consideration that there is no way to categorize e-mail apart from “dumb” labels, this situation really lowers the usage potential of protonmail. I frequently find myself in a situation where mail is “lost”, simply because I cannot search it (as I don’t remember who sent it or the subject).

  3. Anonymous

    Not being able to search is large issue. By when do you think your search feature might be running? Thanks for any response you may have.

  4. e

    1

  5. Henning

    Please add search in body, this is really a must have!!

  6. Henning

    Please add search in text body, this is a must have, not being able to search my mails is kinda a deal-breaker.

  7. Oscar Campbell

    Can only +1 here. It’s obviously possible to search the mails, but a lot trickier to code. Doing it on the client side is actually an option, albeit bandwidth consuming. In such a case it should fetch mails in batches and search and get older and older until user clicks on a result, and then pause/break fetching of material to search.

    I like working with a flat chronological inbox and use search to filter what I see, I never use “other boxes”. In gmail I’d do: “is:unread label:some-label”. Searching tags like this is essential in my workflow. “The search box and the list is everything”.

  8. BT

    Another vote for email body search.
    When this is in place I’ll gladly become a subscriber and switch more of my work to protonmail.

    I understand that you have security high on your priorities and this complicates matters.

    Thanks for the service.

  9. Peter Oruba

    I’d like to chime in to the importance of this feature. Manual sorting with folders and tags is just an unnecessary burden as it imposes a repeating effort and does not really replace an email body search function in my opinion.

  10. Shane

    It seems to me that one way to search the body of emails, and maintain security on the server in the short term would to implement IMAP support with (for instance) a Thunderbird extension to allow for decryption/encryption from the client (I picked Thunderbird because it’s cross platform and free).

  11. Anonymous

    Not beeing able to search in mail contents simply is a showstopper.
    I will not upgrade to a paid account until this feature is in place.

  12. Happy Protonmail user

    Search within email.

    Search within the email has got to be challenging. I personally see it as a nice to have versus must have. I can’t imagine how you can make it efficient without compromising security. Perhaps localized indexing per account? Anyway. I just wanted you to hear from someone who sees it as a really welcome feature, but who understands the challenge to implement it. I can live without it.

  13. Happy Protonmail user

    Show only unread email.

    Simply search flags like the above really need to be added. Both in the desktop version and especially the mobile version.

  14. Looker for search

    Extremely need in search in body of latter.

  15. ProtonMail Support

    The body of the message is encrypted and we don’t have access to it. We are working on options about this.

  16. Aravindh

    +1 for importance of search. One of the things stopping me from using PM.

  17. Joe Potts

    I keep getting the message “incorrect login credentials” as a new user.

  18. ProtonMail Support

    Please contact us via the Report bug button or on contact@protonmail.ch

  19. Anonymous

    Yes definitely, search in text body must be put in your top priority list, this is a must have. Please do your best as soon as possible. Thank you!

  20. MB

    Il will upgrade to a paid version once a search mode is implemented and working. Hoping that will be soon,

  21. Jess

    Is there any update on when a search in body feature will be developed?

  22. ProtonMail Support

    It’s a hard problem to solve, but we have a solution coming soon.

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