MachV/Mozilla: Mail & News

UI Specification 

Quick Search in Mail

Last Modification:

Author: Jennifer Glick 
Creation Date: 29 June 01

Status: Mostly Complete


Search Bar
Select Addresses Dialog

Feature Team


 Scott Putterman, Seth Spitzer 


 Kevin Murray


 Esther Goes, Laurel Carlson 


 Robin Foster Clark 


 Jennifer Glick




Open Issues/Bugs

  1. TBD, Potentially, some View and Navigation type actions may not be available.
  2. Title tip when hovering over search field.  Robin to provide.
  3. 121160 -add quick search text field to ab sidebar and "select addresses" dialog. 



Bug 63573 - RFE: have a "search engine like" interface for searching mail news.

Provide a method for users to perform a basic and easily accessible search in Three Pane Mail and News.


Design Details

1. Menu

Select "Search Bar" from the View: Show/Hide menu in Three Pane Mail. 

A Search Bar above the column headers area opens.  


2. Search Bar

The default is open.  Users who do not use the feature can close the bar. Mail should remember how the user last left the bar (open vs. close).

The search is performed on the folder that is selected in the left pane.

A "contains" search on "Subject" or "Sender" is performed by default.  

Future RFE Feature: Using Preferences, users can change the search to "Subject contains:" or "Sender contains:".  The text displayed in the Search Bar should reflect the current setting ("Subject or Sender contains: vs. "Subject contains:", vs. "Sender contains:"). Note: Exact location of the pref is TBD.

As the user types text into the text field, the Thread Pane updates to display only those headers that match the query. Typing more text in the field refines the search (only searches the remaining items), while deleting characters restores those headers that now match the query.  Clearing all the text from the field restores the full contents of the selected folder in the Thread Pane.

The search results are displayed using the same sort order that was set by the user before the search occurred. While search results are displayed, the sort order can be changed.

Selecting a different folder, newsgroup or account cancels the search.  For example:

Once the users starts typing in the text field, no message in the Thread Pane should be selected and the Message Pane should be empty.

Clicking on the "Advanced..." button opens the full "Search Messages" dialog.

Clicking on the "Clear" button clears the search field. Only enabled when text is currently entered.


3. Displaying the Results

The results of the search are displayed in the Thread Pane. The number of matches found are displayed in the status bar.

Most all actions available on messages should be available to the search result messages.  Actions taken on search results are permanent (same as non search results messages). For example:

No Results Found. If no matching items are found, the text, "No matches found." is displayed in the Status bar.  The Message pane, if open, is empty.



Tab. Tabbing in Three Pane Mail works clockwise, so if the search field has focus, a tab will cause the Thread Pane to have focus.

"Get Msg".  If the user pulls or receives new messages while search results are being displayed, and any of the new messages match the search criteria, the Thread Pane displaying the matching results is NOT updated.  If the user were to perform the search again, though, the new messages would be displayed.

Drag and Drop. Users are able to drag and drop results of the search to other folders. Just like drag and drop in the Three Pane Mail, a Move is preformed.  Accelerator plus drag and drop is a copy.  When drag and dropping newsgroup messages, a copy is always performed.

News. This feature should work the same in Newsgroups, although it may be a little slower if there are a large number of postings.

Clicking into or Tabbing into. Clicking into the search field or tabbing into the search field causes any existing text to be highlighted. This parallels the browser behavior of clicking or tabbing into the URL field.  



If the user performs a search, selects a message found in the search, and then clears the search, the message selected should remain selected. 

The user performs a search, no message is selected in search and user clears search. No message should be selected when the search is cleared. The thread pane should scroll to the first new message (or most recent message if no new messages are available).

The user performs a search. A message has secondary focus in search view (lighter highlight color). The user clears the search. The message retains secondary focus when search cleared.


Quick Search in the "Select Addresses" Dialog

"Stop" button is enabled while a search is in progress.


Quick Search in the Sidebar

Address Book in the Sidebar spec.

If a local Address Book is selected:


If an LDAP Directory is selected, "Stop" button is available while the search is in  progress.





  1. Name of toolbar? Search Bar.
  2. If the account level is selected in the Folder Pane, can a Search on the whole account be done? Or does the Search Toolbar become disabled? With redesign, Search Bar is not visible when an Account is selected.
  3. Type of search?  A -  "contains" search on "subject", "sender" and "body".  B -  "contains" search on "subject" and  "sender".  Contains Subject or Sender.
  4. Do we want to allow users to type in the +,  -, or  "" notations?  No. No need to complicate. Plus if we allow it here, would advanced search need to allow it as well?
  5. Label text says "Search for:" or "Subject or Sender contains:"? "Subject or Sender contains" by default. Will be a preference to change the search to Subject only or Sender only.  Text displayed should update as appropriate.
  6. A "contains" search on "Subject" or "Sender" is performed by default.  RFE - Using Preferences, users can change the search to "Subject contains:" or "Sender contains:".  The text displayed in the Search Bar should reflect the current setting. Where should this pref be located? "Mail & News" top level panel? Dedicated Mail "Search" panel?