When I search for stuff, even constraining with name:whatIwant, the majority of results are old e-mail messages and Safari history items.

How can I get rid of these results, but still search my email from within the Mail program? I have already added the History folder from Safari to the Privacy tab and put the Mail app in there too, but the results still show.

I am using Mountain Lion at the moment.

EDIT: It turns out I already had Messages and Web history un-selected in my Search Results tab (see second screengrab below), but I am still seeing the results from Web pages and from current (not just archived) Mail messages.

My Spotlight privacy tab:

spotlight privacy

My Spotlight check boxes...


Some results from my search window:

Search results

  • I will try the Messages suggestion, but any ideas about the History folder too? I added the folder location directly from the search results window.
    – beroe
    Commented Oct 20, 2013 at 16:56

5 Answers 5


I have struggled with this also (telling spotlight NOT to search in mail etc.)... The best solution for me so far has been to get in the habit of writing:


at the end of every search I make in spotlight.

I will admit this isn't a GREAT solution - but it works (and you could probably set a keyboard shortcut to type it for you if you wanted).


In System Preferences -> Spotlight, go to the Search Results tab, and uncheck Messages and Chats.

This will still allow you to index and search from within Mail, but the results will not show up when searching via Spotlight.

  • Did you get a chance to test this? It is the same as the earlier answer, so has credibility of the masses, but didn't work for me. Wondering if it is because I have something weird in my set-up or if it isn't actually correct...
    – beroe
    Commented Oct 20, 2013 at 17:25
  • Darn... Please wait until Oct 22 and then try my unedited answer on Mavericks. Commented Oct 21, 2013 at 2:27
  • Yes, a lot of our problems may be obsolete or different soon. We'll see.
    – beroe
    Commented Oct 21, 2013 at 6:04

You can add ~/Library/Mail/ to the privacy tab, but it also prevents you from searching for messages in Mail.

If you can consider using Alfred instead, it doesn't include mail messages in the default search results, and it can be configured to not show mail messages even when you use the open or find actions.

  1. Start Spotlight (by default ⌘ cmd+space) and search for any term, then select Spotlight Preferences… at the bottom of the list.

    Alternatively, open System Preferences and select the Spotlight pane.

  2. Uncheck "Messages & Chats" and close System Preferences.

  • Stop Down-Voting my Answers, Mike. Get a Life! Commented Oct 20, 2013 at 15:53
  • 1
    perhaps you should get the answers right instead of complaining about votes? Messages and Chats controls display of iMessages and chat logs, not mail. Commented Oct 20, 2013 at 16:22
  • Messages and Chats does control iMessages and chat logs but also Mail messages.
    – Daniel
    Commented Oct 20, 2013 at 16:38
  • You'll have to look elsewhere for someone who down-voted your initial version of this post. I did cast one down vote on one of your posts earlier today - but I did comment exactly why I thought it was not useful. The best place to work out how voting happens is on Ask Different Meta if you worry that someone (even a moderator) would target votes to you.
    – bmike
    Commented Oct 20, 2013 at 16:40
  • 1
    @TechAndNews. Thanks for the answer. I don't know who/why the downvote occurred, but looking at your original post, I think it could have been because (1) it sounded at first like you are telling me how to do a Spotlight search (rather than an easy way to get to the Prefs) or (2) because you had a bit of an infomercial at the end of your answer. Don't worry, my upvote makes you net-positive, although it doesn't seem to solve my problem.
    – beroe
    Commented Oct 20, 2013 at 17:23

For me the issue was that my email account was set to automatically download all attachments. Go to mail->preferences->accounts->(click on an account)->advanced->uncheck "automatically download all attachments"

After doing this you might have to remove and add your account for mail

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