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.
What is currently searched when I type into the search box at the top of my page?
At this time this search returns results for:
- Recipient email addresses
- Sender email addresses
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, typing in ‘john’ or ‘smith’ will both show results for ‘email@example.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”.
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