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Search in Mail stops working

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I have an annoying bug in Mail on Big Sur.  For a while after I reboot my iMac everything is fine but after a few hours search stops working, and so do my smart mailboxes.

If I key a word into the Search bar nothing happens - the list of emails doesn't change and I don't get the normal dropdown list.  And clicking on a smart mailbox just shows Found 0 results.

I've been onto Apple support and done the suggested stuff including mailbox rebuild and re-installing MacOS.  They have now suggested a nuke and pave as a last resort - which I guess means they don't have a clue.  I'm ok with a full rebuild, but I wonder if the hive mind has any suggestions before I start checking my backups.....

Thanks in advance

Andy

 

 

 

1 Answer
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My first step would be to try using the general macOS spotlight search for the emails once the problem is showing itself within Mail. This would help narrow the source of the issue.

If Spotlight also shows no mail messages then it is likely to be a stuck background indexing process and you could try resetting Spotlight for your whole user folder (by temporarily adding that folder into the Spotlight privacy section).

I forget where to look, but possibly you have a 3rd party Spotlight plug-in that is finding a corrupted file & freezing?

Another isolation step is to use a different user account to import (and hence fully rebuild) the Mail folder from your primary account (or if you have no POP accounts and no On My Mac folders let it download everything freshly via IMAP/Exchange). 

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