Proximity searching within a specified distance

Aid4Mail provides proximity searching within a specified distance through the <n> wildcard. Distance is measured as the number of intermediate words (n).

Specifying distance between words

The <n> wildcard matches a specified maximum number of intermediate words. Replace the letter n with a value between 0 and 99 corresponding to the number of whole words to match. For example, the following search term will match up to 12 words between cat and dog:


This search term will find all of the following:

· cat, dog

· dog and cat

· I love my dog and my cat.

· A cat chases mice and other small creatures. It will only go after a dog if threatened.

Notice that the words cat and dog don't have to be in the same sentence. They don't even have to be in the same paragraph. As long as they appear in the text in the order specified, and within 13 words of each other (i.e. 12 intermediary words), they will be found.

Word variation

The search term cat<12>dog will not find the following:

I have two cats and four dogs.

This is because cat in the search term will not match cats (plural) in the text. Likewise, dog will not match dogs. In addition, the <n> wildcard only matches whole words and so will not match the s on the end of cats. 

Additional character wildcards at the end of cat and dog are necessary to match plurals. We could use the ~ wildcard if we only want to cater for one additional character (the s at the end of the words). However, let's use the * wildcard as it gives more flexibility and will match more than one additional character. This allows the matching of doggy and doggies, for example. The search terms have now become:


These search terms will now match every example text, above, as well as all of the following:

· Are you a cat or dog person?

· Are cats or dogs your favorite?

· My cats are very dog-like.

· This is her Royal Catness. She rules over the doggies.

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