Gmail’s advanced search options

Watch how to use the advanced gmail search tool:

Search in Gmail is just as powerful as a Google search. Here we show you some nifty tricks you can use when looking for specific messages from certain people or properties (e.g. unread, has a star, in a label, etc.)

For a full list of the search options in Gmail, check out the Help Center article.

Advanced search

While you can use any words in the search box on top of your inbox to find emails, you may have better luck using some of the 'Advanced Search' operators.


Advanced search operators are query words or symbols that perform special actions in Apps mail search. These operators allow you to find what you're looking for quickly and accurately. They can also be used to set up filters so you can organize your inbox automatically. For example, you could use the operators to find emails from specific people, with specific subjects. Some of the most useful operators are listed below.


You can use Advanced search operators in the regular search box on top of the inbox, or you can use the Show search options beside the Apps mail search box.


To construct a search using the search operators:

  1. Choose the operator(s) you would like to use
  2. Type the operator into the search box, for example, from:jennifer to search your inbox for emails where Jennifer is the sender.
  3. Click search 




You can also click the drop down arrow in the search box to help construct a search query with the options to define who sent the message (From), who the message was addressed (To), the subject of the message - you can enter the full subject or just a few keywords (Subject), keywords that the email may have anywhere in the message content (Has the Words), and a date range if you have an idea of when the message was received (Date).



If you were looking for an email sent from the department head, John, in the past month about the testing schedule you type and select the following using the Advanced Search Options:

From: John

Has the words: testing schedule

Date within: 1 month of today


You could also do this using the regular search box with the search operators by typing:

testing schedule from:john after:2011/03/16 before:2011/04/18  


Here's a full list of all the operators you can use to construct a search:






Used to specify the sender

Example - from:amy

Meaning - Messages from Amy


Used to specify a recipient

Example - to:david

Meaning - All messages that were sent to David (by you or someone else)


Search for words in the subject line

Example - subject:dinner

Meaning - Messages that have the word "dinner" in the subject


Search for messages matching term A or term B*

*OR must be in all caps

Example - from:amy OR from:david

Meaning - Messages from Amy or from David



Used to exclude messages from your search

Example - dinner -movie

Meaning - Messages that contain the word "dinner" but do not contain the word "movie"


Search for messages by label*

*There isn't a search operator for unlabeled messages

Example - from:amy label:friends

Meaning - Messages from Amy that have the label "friends"

Example - from:david label:my-family

Meaning - Messages from David that have the label "My Family"


Search for messages with an attachment

Example - from:david has:attachment

Meaning - Messages from David that have an attachment


Search for messages on mailing lists

Example -

Meaning - Messages with the words in the headers, sent to or from this list


Search for an attachment by name or type

Example - filename:physicshomework.txt

Meaning - Messages with an attachment named "physicshomework.txt"

Example - label:work filename:pdf

Meaning - Messages labeled "work" that also have a PDF file as an attachment

" "


Used to search for an exact phrase*

*Capitalization isn't taken into consideration

Example - "i'm feeling lucky"

Meaning - Messages containing the phrase "i'm feeling lucky" or "I'm feeling lucky"

Example - subject:"dinner and a movie"

Meaning - Messages containing the phrase "dinner and a movie" in the subject

( )

Used to group words

Used to specify terms that shouldn't be excluded

Example - from:amy(dinner OR movie)

Meaning - Messages from Amy that contain either the word "dinner" or the word "movie"

Example - subject:(dinner movie)

Meaning - Messages in which the subject contains both the word "dinner" and the word "movie"


Search for messages anywhere in Gmail*

*Messages in Spam and Trash are excluded from searches by default

Example - in:anywhere movie

Meaning - Messages in All Mail, Spam, and Trash that contain the word "movie"




Search for messages in Inbox, Trash, orSpam

Example - in:trash from:amy

Meaning - Messages from Amy that are in Trash




Search for messages that are starred, unread or read

Example - is:read is:starred from:David

Meaning - Messages from David that have been read and are marked with a star



Used to specify recipients in the cc: orbcc: fields*

*Search on bcc: cannot retrieve messages on which you were blind carbon copied

Example - cc:david

Meaning - Messages that were cc-ed to David



Search for messages sent during a certain period of time*

*Dates must be in yyyy/mm/dd format.

Example - after:2004/04/16 before:2004/04/18

Meaning - Messages sent between April 16, 2004 and April 18, 2004.*

*More precisely: Messages sent after 12:00 AM (or 00:00) April 16, 2004 and before April 18, 2004.


Search for chat messages

Example - is:chat monkey

Meaning - Any chat message including the word "monkey".


Search for messages within a particular email address in the Delivered-To line of the message header

Example -

Meaning - Any message with in the Delivered-To: field of the message header (which can help you find messages forwarded from another account or ones sent to an alias).


Google Enterprise YouTube: Gmail Search

Google Help:  Advanced Search 

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