10 Gmail Search Tips That Will Help You Find Emails Quickly

Gmail’s advanced search operators allow you to quickly unearth emails that are important to you. Here are some of the best tips you can try.
Kashyap Vyas

Gmail is undoubtedly the most popular free web-based email service from Google.


With heaps of storage capabilities and super-fast speed, it is one of the first choices of internet users for email communication. Over the years, the email service has been significantly improved, adding multiple capabilities and intelligence. But, one of the striking features of Gmail is its unique search capability that allows users to do multiple things with the help of search operators. These invaluable search tools can come handy to not only filter out your important mails, but also to keep your email list organized, remove unnecessary space, unsubscribe from spam and do a host of other things. We’ve compiled a list of some of the best search tips for Gmail that you can try out right away!

Find important unread emails

Search query: is:important is:unread

Gmail has the capability to understand your pattern when you open certain emails and respond to them. Based on this pattern, it automatically assigns “Important” tag with a yellow arrow right above the sender’s name. It often happens that some of your important emails get buried under other less important ones, and might go unnoticed. Using the search query “is:important” and “is:unread” together, you can accesses these messages instantly.

Look for old messages

Search query: before:2015/03/31 or before:2015

If you are one of those who believe in keeping their Gmail inbox clean and organized, this search query can filter out all the emails that you have sent and received during a particular period and can erase them in bulk. Search using “before:(the date you wish in yyyy/mm/dd or yyyy format)”. You can also use this query to find out old important messages quickly rather than sifting through all the pages one by one.

Delete unnecessary space

Search query: has:attachment larger_than:10mb

Although Gmail offers 15gb of free storage, your inbox may reach a point where you run out of space, possibly because of messages that contain large attachments. However, with this quick search query, you can filter out all the messages that are taking up space in your inbox unnecessarily. You can narrow down your results by combining your search query with the “before:(date)” operator.

Unsubscribe newsletters at once

Search query: label:^unsub

If you’re tired of receiving frequent, unnecessary newsletters and mailing lists that you don’t even remember having signed up for, this search query in Gmail can make your life easier. Use “label:^unsub” in the search to see all the messages containing the hidden unsubscribe label at once. Figure out the ones that are really important to you and unsubscribe from the rest.

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View all photos

Search query: filename:jpg

You don’t have to look inside each email message to see if there’s an image attached to it. Use “filename:jpg” query or replace the jpg with png, gif or jpeg to get relevant results. To be even more specific, you can try combining other queries such as “has:userlabels” or “has:yellow-star”, “is:read” and “older_than:2d” among the few.

Watch YouTube videos

Search query: has:youtube

While you may not use Gmail to watch YouTube videos, this query can be useful to filter out the links of interesting YouTube videos that your contacts may have shared with you. Again, combining it with a sender query “from:[email protected]” or using a date modifier “before:(date)”can give you more pointed results.

Find attachment with name and file type

Search query: filename:invoice.pdf or doc, ppt, xls

It is also easy to find the exact attachment you are looking for from the bulk of email messages by using this query. You can use both file name and its extension in the query to get exact results. If you further combine it with the sender query, the results will be more specific.

Get results that match your exact word query

Search query: “word or phrase” or +“word or phrase”

Getting an exact search result is also possible with Gmail’s search operators. Simply enter the word or phrase between the double quotes or use “+” and your word or phrase to filter out results that exactly match with your query.

Organize unlabelled mails

Search query: has:nouserlabels

For those who want to keep their inbox organized, Gmail provides the facility to label and categorize a set of emails. Having an organized inbox is actually useful to use more advanced search queries to filter out important messages quickly. In case if you forgot to label certain emails, use the “has:nouserlabels” query, which will show you all the unlabelled ones. You can then assign appropriate labels for the ones you find important. Creating new labels or modifying them is easy; you just have to click on the cog icon located on the top right of the Gmail UI, go to setting and then click on labels.

Filter time-based searches

Search query: after:epoch time before:epoch time

Gmail also gives you the ability to filter messages that you received or sent at a particular hour, minute or second. For example, you can filter emails received between Dec 1, 2017 9:30 AM and Dec 1, 2017 8:30 PM. To do this, you’ll first need to convert the date and time to Epoch time and use that timestamp between the “before:” and “after:” search operators. For the example mentioned above, the timestamp for Dec 1, 2017 9:30 AM is 1512100800 and for 8:30 PM is 1512140400. Using this search query will give you a list of all emails received during the selected period.

What other search combinations have you tried? Let us know in the comments.

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