notmuch-search-terms(1) Syntax for notmuch queries


notmuch count [options...] <search-term>...

notmuch dump [ <filename> ] [--] [ <search-term>...]

notmuch search [options...] <search-term>...

notmuch show [options...] <search-term>...

notmuch tag +<tag>|-<tag> [...] [--] <search-term>...


Several notmuch commands accept a common syntax for search terms.

The search terms can consist of free-form text (and quoted phrases) which will match all messages that contain all of the given terms/phrases in the body, the subject, or any of the sender or recipient headers.

As a special case, a search string consisting of exactly a single asterisk ("*") will match all messages.

In addition to free text, the following prefixes can be used to force terms to match against specific portions of an email, (where <brackets> indicate user-supplied values):





        tag:<tag> (or is:<tag>)




The from: prefix is used to match the name or address of the sender of an email message.

The to: prefix is used to match the names or addresses of any recipient of an email message, (whether To, Cc, or Bcc).

Any term prefixed with subject: will match only text from the subject of an email. Searching for a phrase in the subject is supported by including quotation marks around the phrase, immediately following subject:.

The attachment: prefix can be used to search for specific filenames (or extensions) of attachments to email messages.

For tag: and is: valid tag values include inbox and unread by default for new messages added by notmuch new as well as any other tag values added manually with notmuch tag.

For id:, message ID values are the literal contents of the Message-ID: header of email messages, but without the '<', '>' delimiters.

The thread: prefix can be used with the thread ID values that are generated internally by notmuch (and do not appear in email messages). These thread ID values can be seen in the first column of output from notmuch search

The folder: prefix can be used to search for email message files that are contained within particular directories within the mail store. Only the directory components below the top-level mail database path are available to be searched.

In addition to individual terms, multiple terms can be combined with Boolean operators ( and, or, not , etc.). Each term in the query will be implicitly connected by a logical AND if no explicit operator is provided, (except that terms with a common prefix will be implicitly combined with OR until we get Xapian defect #402 fixed).

Parentheses can also be used to control the combination of the Boolean operators, but will have to be protected from interpretation by the shell, (such as by putting quotation marks around any parenthesized expression).

Finally, results can be restricted to only messages within a particular time range, (based on the Date: header) with a syntax of:


Each timestamp is a number representing the number of seconds since 1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC. This is not the most convenient means of expressing date ranges, but until notmuch is fixed to accept a more convenient form, one can use the date program to construct timestamps. For example, with the bash shell the following syntax would specify a date range to return messages from 2009-10-01 until the current time:

        $(date +%s -d 2009-10-01)..$(date +%s)