Searching emails

I’m afraid I don’t have the office version. I just have DEVONthink pro. I understand that the office version can “capture” emails and the pro cannot.

Does this imply that if I just drag an email from Apple Mail into DEVONthink that it’s content won’t be found in searches?

It’s not that it’s an unrecognized content since other weird document types have their content indexed:

CircusPonies Notebook (.nb)
OmniGraffle (.graffle)
OmniOutliner (.oo3)
PersonalBrain (.brain)

Also a dragged in email has plenty of plain text in it.

If I drag the email to the desktop and change the extension to “txt” then dragged it in, the document is searchable by content.

Any ideas which documents DEVONthink chooses to index the content?

I’m also having this problem, though I didn’t know until I read your post that DTpro can’t search emails. Is that really true?? What’s the point of having the facility to import them if you can’t search them? :cry:

I’ve imported a whole Mailbox and DTpro’ Search can’t find anything in it at all, even when I copy the search term from within DTpro’s browser.

Someone please tell me there is a workaround for this? :unamused:

DEVONthink searches the contents of emails just fine. What search criteria do you have set in the pull-down menu from the toolbar search field?

Following your tip about changing to .txt, the workaround I’ve found is to select all mails in the mailbox and export as RTF (rich text format) to my hard disk, then import that into DTpro.

The upside is that it does make the content searchable, the down side is that the export merges all the mails into one huge RTF doc. It’s still usable, but I guess I’ll have to mess about with applescripts and Automator now to export individual items, convert them then import them into DTpro.

That’s an OK workaround for me, but I’d appreciate it if anyone can point me to a script that already does this?

Thanks for your reply Greg. I previously had ‘All’ selected and ‘prefix while typing’ (whatever that means). I tried your settings - makes no difference, doesn’t find anything. I think the reason is because the Mailbox imports the files as .eml. I guess DTpro can’t search those?

Yes, DEVONthink does search .eml files. Here is one in my Inbox, with a search term from the text of the email.

Thanks again.

Any thoughts on why this doesn’t work for me? I’m stumped, tbh. Have tried importing several times without success.

Here’s another point. The search in emails doesn’t even work in the dedicated find window. I’ve attached my settings. You can see I’m being lenient as possible. Still no hits for the simplest of examples.

Further having both the eml and txt version in the database results in searches only discovering the txt version. But since it does find the txt version I am confident my search is correctly phrased.

Greg, is there any change you have the pro “office” version? I do not.


Thanks for your respons, korm.

Spotlight will find the content in the emails, but in their location in Mail, not in DTpro.

Thanks so much Korm. That clears up a lot.

I made a text file with a single word in it. I used a text editor. The contents was just plain text; not rich text.

  • That text file appeared in search results for that single word.

  • I copied the file and altered the extension to “eml”. On import, the input log reported “Unkown Format”. That file did not appear in search results.

  • I copied the file and altered the extension to “nb”. This is Circus Ponies Notebook extension. After import that file did appear in search results.

  • I copied the file and altered the extension to “blah”. On import the input log reported “Unkown Format”. That file did not appear in search results.

Consistently for me if the log shows “Unknown Format” the file is not indexed and not found. “eml” is considered an unknown format for me. I also tried “phrase” and wildcard versions of the search. It didn’t help.

I’ll contact support and report back.



If you do get a resolution from Support, would you please post it here, as I’m sure we’re not the only ones having this problem.

My permissions look correct (i.e. eml msg selected in DTpro show Mail as the default program). I also notice that the mailbox I imported is updating/syncing in DTpro as it gets populated in Mail, which is nice (and expected). Now, if only I could make it searchable without having to convert to .rtf…

Only DEVONthink Pro Office supports full email archiving including the possibility to index & search .eml messages.

Thanks Christian, that’s what the OP said all along. Good to get it confirmed.

That means I can get on with writing a script to convert them to RTF before import.

I’ll post that back here if you want to make use of it, though it might be a few days before I can get round to it.



Wow, I never realized that this was the case before. My apologies to those who I advised that indexing should work for them.

No worries on my part Greg, your willingness to help was much appreciated.


Thanks to all of you for the intriguing discussion. cgrunenberg’s response was the same as that from support.