How to sort, organize and search in the Mail app

Sort Mail from Menu Bar

When you start using your new Mac and get your Mail app all set up, you’ll soon learn that you can do some really cool things. You can create rules to handle emails automatically and set up Smart Mailboxes to file messages quickly.

But before you delve into advanced features of the Mail app, it’s important to know the basics. And when it comes to those basics; sorting, organizing, and searching in the Mail app fall into that category.

So, for those of you new to Mac, here’s how to sort, organize, and search in the Mail app.

Sort emails in the Mail app on Mac

You have a few fast ways to sort your emails in the Mail app and you can change it up with a click.

Sort with columns

In the default mail layout, you have your message list on the left and your selected message on the right. You can click the column header at top of the message list and select what you’d like to sort by with options for attachments, date, from, and more. Just pick one of those options to sort your message list.

Sort Mail by From Default Layout

If you use the classic mail layout, your mail view has columns on the top with your selected message below. Click any of the columns to sort by it and click again for the reverse order. For example, if you click to sort by From, it will display in alphabetical order starting with A at the top and if you click again, it will reverse it and start with Z at the top.

Sort Mail by From Classic Layout

Sort with the menu bar

You can also use the menu bar action to sort in whichever layout you use. Click View > Sort By and select an option like size, subject, or unread. You can also choose to have the oldest or newest message or A to Z on top, depending on the sort by you pick.

Sort Mail from Menu Bar

Organize emails in the Mail app on Mac

Keeping your inbox organized can be a tough job, especially if you receive countless emails each day. But the Mail app gives you a simple way to organize your messages.

Create Mailboxes

Mailboxes, which are basically folders, let you store your messages and organize them for any of the accounts you have set up.

If you have the Mailboxes sidebar open, scroll down to the Mailbox for the account and click the plus sign to the right (this will appear when you mouse-over it). Alternatively, you can click Mailbox > New Mailbox from the menu bar.

In the pop-up window, confirm the current Location (email account) or pick a different one from the drop-down box, give the Mailbox a name, and click OK.

Create New Mailbox Mac Mail

Organize with Mailboxes

Now you can use that new Mailbox (folder) to organize messages and you have a few different ways to do it. Select the message and then do one of the following.

  • Drag it to the Mailbox in the sidebar.
  • Click Message > Move To from the menu bar and pick the Mailbox.
  • Right-click the message, choose Move To in the context menu, and select the Mailbox.
  • Click the arrow for the Move drop-down box in the Mail toolbar and choose the Mailbox.
Move to Mailbox Mac Mail

Search for emails in the Mail app on Mac

The last Mail tip for Mac newbies we’ll discuss is the search feature. This is a valuable tool when you need to find a specific message and aren’t sure which Mailbox, or even which account, it’s in.

The Search box is on the top right of the Mail app window in the toolbar by default. Just start typing what you’re searching for, whether it be a sender, subject line, or part of the email body. You’ll immediately see suggestions for things like People, Subject, and Mailboxes that you can select from or continue typing to narrow it down.

Search Box Mac Mail

When you find and select the email you were searching for and finish with it, just click in the X in the Search box to clear it out and return to your current Mailbox.

Wrapping it up

Getting used to the basics of a new email app can not only help you take care of what you need to but prepare you for more advanced features that you might need down the road. Hopefully these Mail tips for those new to Mac will help.

What types of things have you been struggling with in the Mail app on your Mac? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to visit our Tutorials section for help with other devices and apps.