Mavericks: Search by Mail Attachment Type

| TMO Quick Tip

A cool new thing that you can do with Mail under Mavericks is search by attachment type, so if you wanna find all of those PDFs your boss has sent you, you can do so pretty darn quickly. To check it out, open Mail, and then in the search box in the upper-right corner, type in an attachment file format, such as PDF, JPEG, Pages, Word, Numbers, MP3, or whatever. After you do that, you’ve got a few ways to initiate the search. You could pick the file type from under the “Attachments” header that’ll appear in your suggestions:

You could just press Return after typing in your file format and then click on the darker blue “Any” drop-down to switch it to “Attachment type”:

Or, if you wanna be all fancy, you could instead type in “kind:[file format]” with no spaces…

…which’ll automatically do the proper search when you press Return.

(That little trick works in Spotlight, too, if you’re looking for a particular kind of file on your Mac instead of just in Mail.)

Of course, you can still do multiple searches at once, so if you’re looking for PDFs from a particular person, just press Return after your first search and add on your additional parameters.

Hey, look! Now I see every PDF I've sent, all organized together! Wow, that’s…that's…pretty dull, actually. Maybe your PDFs are more exciting than mine.

Popular TMO Stories



With my lack of organizational skills I’ve come to rely on mail search and spotlight more and more. Thanks for making me more proficient with these tools.

Melissa Holt

You’re welcome, ctopher! Thanks for reading my stuff. grin


Me too.  Thanks !


Melissa, as always thanks for this tip.

I gave it a try and rediscovered PDFs going back to 2003 in Mail….

(I’m a hoarder. Digital that is)



Gary LearnTech

> Maybe your PDFs are more exciting than mine.

Melissa, I’m sure you have Particularly Dazzling Files!  grin

Paul Goodwin

Thanks Melissa. I finally made the plunge to Mavericks a couple of days ago, so keep spewing out the tips. This one was very helpful.

And ctpoher, it may not be our organizational skills. We just save too much stuff. I’m pretty good about putting stuff where it belongs, but now I have hundreds and hundreds of folders full of filed stuff. I wonder how much of it I’ll ever look at again.

Melissa Holt

Thanks for all the comments, everyone!

Paul and furbies, if you guys need help organizing, here’s my personal philosophy: Throw it all away. Yup, that’s right. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve “organized” myself into having to restore a backed-up file. On second thought, please don’t be like me.

And Gary, you’d be surprised. Unless a PDF of study questions for Apple certification is interesting to you, that is. I promise you that it’s not. grin


Paul Goodwin

Hahahaha on the throw it all away.


Extremely useful, thank you very much. Can we also add date ranges to those file type searches ?

Melissa Holt

As far as I know, snowmobile, you can’t search a date range. You can specify a month by typing in “January 2013” or the like, and you can even do some other date-related terms such as “yesterday” or “today.” But I don’t think you can do a range. :(



I have to chime in on the date of my oldest PDF in mail. (Is this a contest? Do I win a prize?) I was disappointed to learn that the oldest PDF was from 2001. I know I have mail going back farther than that. 13 years of e-mail, indexed by Apple mail and still going strong. (And if anyone need it, I can forward you the “TI MSP430 Selector Guide” from 2000.

Log in to comment (TMO, Twitter or Facebook) or Register for a TMO account