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

notmuch dump [--format=(batch-tag|sup)] [--] [--output=<file>] [--] [<search-term> ...]

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

notmuch show [option ...] <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):

  • from:<name-or-address>

  • to:<name-or-address>

  • subject:<word-or-quoted-phrase>

  • attachment:<word>

  • tag:<tag> (or is:<tag>)

  • id:<message-id>

  • thread:<thread-id>

  • folder:<maildir-folder>

  • path:<directory-path> or path:<directory-path>/**

  • date:<since>..<until>

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 path: prefix searches for email messages that are in particular directories within the mail store. The directory must be specified relative to the top-level maildir (and without the leading slash). By default, path: matches messages in the specified directory only. The "/**" suffix can be used to match messages in the specified directory and all its subdirectories recursively. path:"" matches messages in the root of the mail store and, likewise, path:** matches all messages.

The folder: prefix searches for email messages by maildir or MH folder. For MH-style folders, this is equivalent to path:. For maildir, this includes messages in the "new" and "cur" subdirectories. The exact syntax for maildir folders depends on your mail configuration. For maildir++, folder:"" matches the inbox folder (which is the root in maildir++), other folder names always start with ".", and nested folders are separated by "."s, such as folder:.classes.topology. For "file system" maildir, the inbox is typically folder:INBOX and nested folders are separated by slashes, such as folder:classes/topology.

Both path: and folder: will find a message if any copy of that message is in the specific directory/folder.

The date: prefix can be used to restrict the results to only messages within a particular time range (based on the Date: header) with a range syntax of:


See DATE AND TIME SEARCH below for details on the range expression, and supported syntax for <since> and <until> date and time expressions.

The time range can also be specified using timestamps with a syntax of:


Each timestamp is a number representing the number of seconds since 1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC.

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).


notmuch understands a variety of standard and natural ways of expressing dates and times, both in absolute terms ("2012-10-24") and in relative terms ("yesterday"). Any number of relative terms can be combined ("1 hour 25 minutes") and an absolute date/time can be combined with relative terms to further adjust it. A non-exhaustive description of the syntax supported for absolute and relative terms is given below.

The range expression


The above expression restricts the results to only messages from <since> to <until>, based on the Date: header.

<since> and <until> can describe imprecise times, such as "yesterday". In this case, <since> is taken as the earliest time it could describe (the beginning of yesterday) and <until> is taken as the latest time it could describe (the end of yesterday). Similarly, date:january..february matches from the beginning of January to the end of February.

Currently, we do not support spaces in range expressions. You can replace the spaces with '_', or (in most cases) '-', or (in some cases) leave the spaces out altogether. Examples in this man page use spaces for clarity.

Open-ended ranges are supported (since Xapian 1.2.1), i.e. it's possible to specify date:..<until> or date:<since>.. to not limit the start or end time, respectively. Pre-1.2.1 Xapian does not report an error on open ended ranges, but it does not work as expected either.

Entering date:expr without ".." (for example date:yesterday) won't work, as it's not interpreted as a range expression at all. You can achieve the expected result by duplicating the expr both sides of ".." (for example date:yesterday..yesterday).

Relative date and time

[N|number] (years|months|weeks|days|hours|hrs|minutes|mins|seconds|secs) [...]

All refer to past, can be repeated and will be accumulated.

Units can be abbreviated to any length, with the otherwise ambiguous single m being m for minutes and M for months.

Number can also be written out one, two, ..., ten, dozen, hundred. Additionally, the unit may be preceded by "last" or "this" (e.g., "last week" or "this month").

When combined with absolute date and time, the relative date and time specification will be relative from the specified absolute date and time.

Examples: 5M2d, two weeks

Supported absolute time formats

  • H[H]:MM[:SS] [(am|a.m.|pm|p.m.)]

  • H[H] (am|a.m.|pm|p.m.)


  • now

  • noon

  • midnight

  • Examples: 17:05, 5pm

Supported absolute date formats

  • YYYY-MM[-DD]

  • DD-MM[-[YY]YY]


  • M[M]/D[D][/[YY]YY]

  • M[M]/YYYY

  • D[D].M[M][.[YY]YY]

  • D[D][(st|nd|rd|th)] Mon[thname] [YYYY]

  • Mon[thname] D[D][(st|nd|rd|th)] [YYYY]

  • Wee[kday]

    Month names can be abbreviated at three or more characters.

    Weekday names can be abbreviated at three or more characters.

    Examples: 2012-07-31, 31-07-2012, 7/31/2012, August 3

Time zones

  • (+|-)HH:MM

  • (+|-)HH[MM]

    Some time zone codes, e.g. UTC, EET.

RELATED TO notmuch-search-terms…


Carl Worth and many others


2014, Carl Worth and many others