A common problem with a bulky inbox is finding emails. Almost every email service and client has a search feature, with some offering very smart parameters for refining the search (like Gmail’s web interface) but still, at times quickly finding the right email can be a pain. Similarly, if you’ve downloaded an attachment that came with an email and are trying to trace it back to the original message, you could be out of luck if you have renamed the file in the meantime, and will likely need to go through several emails individually to find it since for the most part, you are relying on memory to remember who the email was from, or a snippet from the email’s subject. If you’re using the default Mail app on a Mac, though, finding the email that an attachment came with is much easier than you know, as every attachment that you download saves details of where the file originated from i.e. the email’s sender and subject. You can use this to find the original email thread.
Right-click an attachment and select the ‘Get Info’ option. Scroll down and expand the ‘More info’ tab. Here, you will see where this file came from. An email address followed by the subject indicates that file originated from the Mail program, and this information can be used to search for the email using Mail’s own search feature. This information is preserved even after you have edited the file after downloading it.
Should the search return too many results (or none at all) and you need to get to the email fast, the script that follows the email and subject in the file’s info box is bound to help. Just copy the text you see after the subject – in this case, the “message:%3CCA+f2sof-s3fHyvt_6woCCR0gAUJKs9RofyTA=VzHqNouJwjT6g@mail.gmail.com%3E” part (without the quotes). Next, paste it into Safari’s address bar (no other browser will work), and hit enter. Safari will automatically open the exact email for you.
This tip is useful so long as the email you’re looking for had a file attached and you saved it to your Mac HD. By saving an attachment, we don’t mean the default backup that Mail makes; you can’t browse the files in that folder because the backups that Mail makes are in MBOX format and can be opened with an email client only. You have to download the attachment in its original format and then access its information window. Although this limits the usability of this trick, it still makes the process of tracking down the email that a document came attached with, considerably easier than using Safari or Mail’s search feature for the purpose.
[via Mac OS X Hints]