Winning at Gmail: Find Any Message In A Flash


How organized is your Gmail account? Yeah, that’s what I thought. These tips can help.

If you’re like me, your Gmail account probably wasn’t that organized to begin with. Now, with all the new changes and updates you’ve just decided to accept the fact that the very important email message from five years ago is lost forever. Rather than sobbing “you win, Gmail” and accepting defeat, here are some simple steps you can take to quickly and painlessly find anything you need in your Gmail inbox.

Search Gmail with “From:” or “To:”

If you at least know who the email message was to or from, you can enter his or her name after “from:” or “to:” in the Gmail search bar, and it will pull up every message written to or received from that person. Don’t include any spaces after the colon. This method is far more helpful than just searching “Karen Johnson” and bringing up every email that includes the name Karen, from every person named Karen, since you signed up for Gmail.

Use the Hyphen (-) to Eliminate Terms

When searching a person’s name in Gmail, every incidence of contact with that person will be included in the search results. Yes, this means that every Tweet notification or Facebook message that is connected to your email account, will show up. If you want to search your email, but avoid the noise of certain results, add a hyphen next to the word you’d like to eliminate.

For example, when searching for Leonardo DiCaprio, and omitting annoying Twitter notifications, I would search Leonardo DiCaprio –Twitter and I would get zero search results. How odd.

Search Gmail Messages with Attachments

Never again must you slog through 300 emails to find an attachment that you didn’t download and save immediately. Instead, add “has:attachment” to your search to filter all emails that have an attachment. Even better, include “from:(insert name) has:attachment” and the results will only contain emails with attachments from that person. For example:  “from:Karen Johnson has:attachment” (without quotes).

Specify Terms With Parenthesis

Never mind that you can’t remember why you subscribed to the Men In Socks Newsletter – if you want to search all of the Men In Socks emails and want only the newsletters, you can search from:Men In Socks (newsletter OR socks sale) and all messages from Men In Socks with the term “newsletter” or “socks sale” will appear in your search results.

This is especially convenient if you want to unsubscribe from the Men In Socks fan club because you can simply click the “unsubscribe” link, which by law, must be included in the message. Unsubscribing from newsletters you don’t read, sent by stores you don’t shop at, or organizations in which you are no longer interested in or involved, is a huge step in organizing your inbox.

Search Gmail Chat Messages

Besides occasionally wanting to re-read love letters sent via chat, once in a while you may need to locate a link or other important information delivered via Gmail chat. If you need to find something that was included in a chat message, simply search using “is:chat”. Add parenthesis around key words to find specific information.

For Examplefrom:Robert Downey, Jr. is:chat (marry me)

No results again. Weird.

In the end, hopefully you will be a little closer to winning at Gmail. At the very least, you will be able to find all of those important messages a little quicker – and without spending days scrolling through hundreds of irrelevant emails.

Related on EcoSalon:

15 Ways That Are Better for Corresponding Than Email

Geek Hack: My Monthly Cycles Email Alerts

Image: Wikimedia Commons