Email overload is stressful, but Gmail offers powerful search features to help you manage your inbox. We’ve compiled our most used Gmail search tips to help you find the email you need.

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Narrowing down: the basics

The Gmail search is particularly useful when you know some things about the email you’re trying to find, but not everything.

Here are some examples you can use to quickly narrow down using the Gmail search:

If you know specifically who sent the emailUse from:[]
…or just the domain it was sent fromUse from:@[]
If you know which email address of yours it came to (if you have multiple accounts)Use to:[]
If you know any words from the subject lineUse subject:[words in the subject]
If you know the email had an attachmentUse has:attachment
If you know when the email was sentUse a date specifier (see examples below)

Date specifiers

Search for messages from a particular date range.Use:after:[yyyy/mm/dd]before:[yyyy/mm/dd]older:[yyyy/mm/dd]newer:[yyyy/mm/dd]

e.g. after:2004/04/16 before:2004/04/18 for messages sent between 16 April 2004 and 18 April 2023.
Search for messages older than a particular timeframe (using d,m, and y for day, month, and year)Use older_than:[timeframe]

older_than:1y for messages sent over one year ago.
Search for messages newer than a particular timeframe (using d,m, and y for day, month, and year)Use newer_than:[timeframe]

eg.newer_than:2d for messages sent within the last two days.

Advanced searching

If the basic searches aren’t cutting the mustard, you might need one of these advanced search modifiers:

If you know the file name of an attachmentUse filename:”file name”

e.g. filename:”Producing Paradise branding” 
If you know the file typeUse filename:[file type]

e.g. filename:PDF
If the email is unreadUse is:unread
If the email is marked with a starUse is:starred
If the email is in a specific label or folderUse label:[label name]

e.g. label:@Action
If the email is in a particular category (eg. primary, social or promotions)Use category:[category name]

e.g. category:social
If the email might be in an archived or spam folderUse in:anywhere

Emails with large attachments

If you want to search your Gmail account for all emails that have large attachments, you can search for:

has:attachment size:9000000

You can play with the ‘size’ number until you see a smaller number of emails (9000000 is 9mb)

Gmail search bar showing has:attachment size:9000000

Combining search operators

The power is in combining these options with each other, and/or with a keyword, like: after:2019/01/01 notifications

This will find emails from (anything) sent after 1 January 2019 with the word “notifications” in them.

Gmail search bar showing after:2019/01/01 notifications

Or this one: subject:meeting

This will find emails from Aaron Puls with “meeting” in the subject line

Gmail search bar showing subject:meeting

Save your searches

Save useful search queries by creating filters. Click “Create filter” below the search bar and customize filters to label, mark as important, or categorize emails automatically.

Wrapping it up

With these Gmail search tips, you too can be an email ninja — getting in and out of there as quickly as possible. Use basic and advanced search operators, modifiers, and save your searches for future use.

For other search operators, check out the Gmail help pages.

Further reading

Making email easier is a hot topic around here, you might like these other posts: