While Fastmail focuses on protecting people's privacy, we also make it easier for people to spend less time on email. Find what you need quickly with our attachment search feature.


You're searching for something that's not showing up. "Ugh!" you might say, "This is taking forever."

This is a situation almost everyone, including our CEO, Bron Gondwana, has experienced at least once. "Everyone's busy, everyone's trying to do other things," he said recently in an interview on the Constant Variables Podcast.

Bron says that his desire for attachment search as an email user motivated Fastmail's latest innovation. While Fastmail focuses on protecting people's privacy, we are also dedicated to making it easier for people to spend less time on email with our powerful features.

Let's talk about the benefit of searching within attachments, and then we'll get back to how the technology works and share more from Bron's interview.

Find what you need anywhere, even in your attachments

With our enhanced attachment search feature, when you want to find something quickly on our web interface and in the Fastmail mobile apps, you only need to type in your search terms. Then, Fastmail will automatically look inside attachments and the body of your emails to provide you with comprehensive results. Say goodbye to hunting around for invoices or memorizing special search syntax.

Ultimately, we have changed our tool to suit your needs better because we believe that you should not have to adapt your email usage habits to use Fastmail. Our company's human-first approach saves you time with our quick, effective search tools.

Use attachment search to find files with ease

We know you're busy and that your email account is an important utility that houses gigabytes of data. We don’t want you to spend all day trying to find what you need.

That's where attachment search comes in.

Fast, powerful search is an essential tool for finding the information you need that's buried in your email. Our search feature could already be used to precisely locate the messages you needed. However, if the information you were after was buried in an attachment, it may not have shown up in your results. Not anymore! Our search now looks inside many common document attachments, such as PDF and Word files.

Our attachment search feature allows you to search the text inside attachments by sending your search query to a service that we run internally. Even better, if you don’t quite remember the wording of what you're looking for, our attachment search is flexible and will pick up on word variations.

How to search for emails with attachments

When you want to use our attachment search feature begin by typing a search query for the file you are looking for in the main Fastmail search bar.

You'll see the attachment show up in the message list with the snippet showing matching text when a search matches text inside an attachment.

Searching for a word or phrase will automatically look inside attachments and the rest of the message. If you only want to look for the text inside attachments, you can specify that with a search modifier. Here's the one to use: attached:<text>.

How does searching attachments help in real life?

Here's one example. You signed up to see a virtual music concert. The venue sends you an email confirmation with your digital tickets attached. On the ticket is the code you need to use to join in. Of course, as you run from the kitchen to your computer with a bowl of popcorn, you're late! The code you need is in your inbox hidden by countless other emails.

Never fear; attachment search is here! Most search terms you'd think to use will find your digital tickets, even if the word is only on the ticket that's attached.

When you come first, you get the best experience

Fastmail’s search tools work for you behind the scenes. You type what you need, and our technology goes to work. This is one of the many ways that Fastmail is on your side.

"Most sites on the internet are trying to keep your eyeballs on the site and keep you there so they can show you more advertisements," Bron says. "In our case, we want you to spend as short a time as possible on our site because it's using our resources. If you can get in, process your email in a couple of minutes and nip off and do something else with your data, it's great for us. And it's great for you."

Searching in attachments is a handy, time-saving feature. But the real story is that this useful feature exists because you get your own personal search database. That's something we did for your privacy. By putting people first, we've created a powerful platform for helping you search your own data. Bron’s philosophy is: “If the equipment exists to do it and the technology exists to do it... why not provide it?”

Listen to the full interview with Bron to hear more behind-the-scenes stories about Fastmail. Happy searching in your Fastmail account, or if you haven't tried Fastmail, give us a try with a free 30-day trial.