Gmail is one of the most popular email platforms in the world, whether you’re using it on a PC, fancy new Chromebook, tablet, or phone. It is extremely customizable and quickly adds new and innovative features for its users. This was true when Gmail was released in 2007 with its groundbreaking ability to archive emails online. Back then, Gmail offered users more storage space than its competitors, so this feature gave users a new way to manage their inboxes.
How Gmail used to archive emails
Initially, when users archived an email in Gmail, it no longer appeared in their inboxes. Instead of deleting the message, Gmail moved it to an archive folder. Users could open the archive folder to retrieve old emails.
For those who want to search their archived emails, the archive label will no longer appear in the Gmail label list. This label was the easiest way to search archived emails, so removing it forced users to use the search bar to find anything that wasn’t in their inboxes.
It’s still possible to search all your archived emails without having to search each one individually.
This is how Google archives emails today
Although archived emails don’t show up in your inbox and you can no longer find them via the archive label, they still show up when you search for them. All archived emails that contain a search term are automatically displayed alongside the unarchived emails.
Additionally, you can use Gmail’s search operators to search for archived emails.
Gmail’s search bar is a marvel when it comes to advanced search operators. You can search by sender, recipient, date, label, category, attachment and more. There’s no shortage of operator combinations that will return all your archived emails and nothing else. However, there is an easier way to do this. Even if you can’t see the archive label, it’s still there. To find it, enter the following text in Gmail’s search bar:
Type that in, run the search and you’ll see all your archived emails.
Basic search filters
If you’re looking for a specific email and not a list of all the emails you’ve archived, take full advantage of Google’s search capabilities. By clicking the filter icon next to the search bar, you can use the following useful search filters:
- Out of: Find emails from specific senders. It accepts both their name and email address.
- to: Search emails by recipient (most useful when searching for emails you sent yourself).
- theme: Search for words in the subject line, not the entire email.
- has the words: Search for words that you know are in the email.
- Has not: Remove emails from search results that contain specific words.
- size: Choose how big (or small) an email you’re looking for.
- date within: Select the date range when the email was sent or received.
- Seek: A drop-down box where you select the inbox, outbox, or folder to search.
- has appendix: Check this box if you know the email you are looking for contains an attachment.
- Don’t include chats: Remove all chat logs from search results.
More Gmail search options
The list above only scratches the surface of the search options available in Gmail. If you’re having trouble finding an email you’re looking for and hope a more detailed search will help you find it, check out our ultimate guide to Gmail’s advanced search filters.