How to Search Mail in iPhone Mail

Use Siri to search your emails faster than you can type a search term

Business man's hands typing on a smart phone
Carlina Teteris/Moment Open/Getty Images

​Whether you use the iOS Mail app to access only your iCloud.com email or you've set it up to access mail from other email servers, chances are you have lots of emails on your iPhone or iPad. When you need to find a specific email in the iOS Mail, use one of these methods to find messages precisely by sender, subject, time, text, and attributes.

Let Siri Handle It

If you are running one of the recent versions of the iOS operating system on your iPhone, you don't even have to open the Mail app to search. Press and hold the side button on your iPhone and ask Siri to "Show all the emails from [Example]." In just seconds, the screen populates with a notice of how many emails Siri found and the date of the oldest one, along with the emails themselves.

Scroll through the search results. When you find the one you are looking for, tap to open it in the Mail app. You aren't limited to names with Siri because you can specify emails from a certain date or with a specific subject line and other variables. The best part? Siri searches across all email providers and folders with just a single search.

Search Mail in the Mail App

To search your email folders for specific messages in the Mail app in iOS 12 and other recent versions of the mobile operating system:

  1. Tap the Mail app to open it. Tap an email provider at the top of the screen that you think likely contains the message to open that Inbox. You may only have the iCloud provider if you haven't configured the app to access your other email accounts.

  2. Pull down on the provider's Inbox screen and release to add a search field at the top of the Inbox.

  3. Tap in the Search field and add your search term or terms. Select Search, and the Mail app searches the term in the From, To, Cc, and Subject fields as well as the message body.

    Optionally, when you tap in the search field, you can limit your search before typing in your search term or terms. You can select from:

    • Unread Messages: Includes only unread messages in the search results
    • Flagged Messages: Includes only flagged mail in the search results
    • Messages from VIPs: Returns only emails from VIP senders
    • Messages With Attachments: Finds only emails with files attached
    Three iOS screens showing Mail app's Search, Unread Messages and Unread search term
  4. After selecting one of the optional email filters, type the search term in the search field and tap Search.

Search the Mail App in iOS Mail 7 and 8

To find emails in the Mail app in iOS 7 and 8:

  1. Open the Mail app and go to the folder where you think the message might be.

  2. Scroll to the top of the message list to open a search field.

  3. Tap in the Search field.

  4. Enter the desired search term or terms and tap Search. The Mail app searches for the terms in the header areas and bodies of the emails. Terms can appear as a phrase but also individually or as parts of words.

  5. To search only the current folder, which should return fewer results faster, make sure Current Mailbox is selected at the top of the search's results.

Search Mail in iPhone Mail 6 and earlier

To find messages in iPhone Mail:

  1. Launch the Mail app and open the folder that you suspect contains the email you are looking for.

  2. Scroll to the top of the message list by tapping at the top of the screen where the time and icons display.

  3. Tap the Search folder field.

  4. Enter the desired search term. Tap From to search sender names and addresses. Tap To to search recipients in the To and Cc fields. Tap Subject to search the Subject lines. Tap All to search message bodies in addition to sender, recipient, and subject lines. iPhone Mail 3 and 4 only search the header lines, not message text.

  5. Tap Continue Search on Server to search all mail in the folder, not just the mail that the iPhone has downloaded, by reaching the server. This option is not available for all email provider servers.