Mail Type Select
keyboard navigation for
Mail Type Select, née Type Ahead Find, brings the same kind of keyboard navigation to's message list that the Finder has in its list view (or icon view, or column view really). If you type a short sequence of characters into the table of messages, a message matching your typing will be selected. It's much faster than using the mouse or arrow keys, and becomes completely second nature after a little bit of use.
When the list of messages has focus,
  • Typing a few characters selects a matching message.
  • ^↓ and ^↑ and select next and previous match.
  • ESC and ⌘. cancel.
Click in the message list (i.e. top pane in the viewer window) and type a few characters to try it out.
Other resources
The homepage for Mail Type Select is here.

Source code is available.
Requirements on Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
Users on 10.3 can download version 2.5.
To install
  • Quit
  • Navigate to <YourHomeDirectory>/Library/Mail/.
  • Create a Bundles folder if one does not already exist.
  • Copy MailTypeSelect.mailbundle into the Bundles folder.
  • Open and paste in the following two commands (hitting enter after each):
    defaults write EnableBundles YES
    defaults write BundleCompatibilityVersion 2
The plugin should now be installed. Relaunch, select a message, and type an 'e'. If Mail beeps then the plugin is not loaded properly.

Note: Mail in 10.4.1 disables all installed plugins when run for the first time. This is because some plugins originally written for Mail 1 are broken in Mail 2. Mail Type Select isn't broken, so you just need to reenable it by following the (updated) install directions above. You can find the disabled plugin in <YourHomeDirectory>/Library/Mail/Bundles (Disabled).
Version 2.6, 9/10/2006:
  • Universal plugin. Works on Intel-based Macs.
Version 2.5, 3/1/2005:
  • Handles characters that take more than one key press to type (e.g. é on a US keyboard).
  • Better scrolling behavior when selecting matches.
  • Changed next/previous match keys to ^↓ / ^↑.
Version 2.4, 1/31/2005:
  • Changelog baseline
E-mail me at kenferry at

last modified: 9/10/2006