Very strange ...

I setup a new MBP 2020 Intel coming from an old MBP 2010 with High Sierra. I transferred everything to the new system, all now on 12.2, and everything is running - except one problem I cannot solve.

When I use spotlight search, the preview results underneath the search bar are quite fine. Some of everything shows up, folders, files, documents, and emails. But, when I want to expand the view and show results in finder, everything is here, except emails. This was working on High Sierra perfectly.

I rebuild the spotlight index from scratch, I reindexed my mail database, nothing helped. I even dont think spotlight is broken, since the results in the preview panel are perfect.

The finder just does not show mails. When I save a message .eml in my home directory, it is displayed in the finder results if matching, nicely in a messaging tab. But all my mails which are residing in the normal mail database are not showing up.

I'm really clueless what to do. I checked spotlight and finder defaults, but all looks good.

Why is my finder not showing mail results? Some safety issue? A missing tweak? I don't now.

Any idea? Suggestions? HELP?!? ;-)

1 Answer 1


Mail is now indexed using "Core Spotlight". This was a Big Sur change.

A Core Spotlight index contains data specific to a single app. For searching the index is available to a) the app to which the content belongs, and b) Spotlight search. So searching for mail is no longer available to Finder or third party apps. You will find that the same is true for Apple Notes.

There is one exception to the limitation: Apple Mail can make its Core Spotlight index available to other apps which include an app specific Mail Plugin. This is controlled (from the Apple Mail perspective) in the general preferences under Manage Plug-ins.

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As far as I am aware, HoudahSpot is the only search app which is able to search in Apple Mail as well as the file system.

This is just one of a number of frustrating changes introduced with macOS 11 (Big Sur).

You may like to read Howard Oakley's blog article on Core Spotlight.

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