Gmail Search Operators

Advanced search

Advanced search operators are query words or symbols that perform special actions in Gmail 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. Some of the most useful operators are listed below.

You can also refine your search by clicking the arrow in the search box.


Operator Definition Examples
from: Used to specify the sender Example: from:amy Meaning: Messages from Amy
to: Used to specify a recipient Example: to:david Meaning: All messages that were sent to David (by you or someone else)
subject: Search for words in the subject line Example: subject:dinner Meaning: Messages that have the word “dinner” in the subject
OR 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
(hyphen) Used to exclude messages from your search Example: dinner -movie Meaning: Messages that contain the word “dinner” but do not contain the word “movie”
label: Search for messages by label 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”
has:attachment Search for messages with an attachment Example: from:david has:attachment Meaning: Messages from David that have an attachment
list: Search for messages on mailing lists Example: list:[email protected]Meaning: Messages with the words [email protected] in the headers, sent to or from this list
filename: 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
” ” (quotes) 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”
in:anywhere 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”
in:inboxin:trashin:spam Search for messages in Inbox, Trash, or Spam Example: in:trash from:amyMeaning: Messages from Amy that are in Trash
is:importantlabel:important Search within messages that Priority Inbox considers important. Example: is:important from:janetMeaning: Messages from Janet that were marked as important by Priority Inbox
is:starredis:unreadis:read Search for messages that are starred, unread, or read Example: is:read is:starred from:DavidMeaning: Messages from David that have been read and are marked with a star










Search for messages with a particular star Example: has:purple-star from:DavidMeaning: Messages from David that are marked with a purple star
cc:bcc: Used to specify recipients in the cc: or bcc: 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 or received during a certain period of time(using the date format yyyy/mm/dd) 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.
older_thannewer_than Similar to older and newer, but allows relative dates using d, m, and y for day, month, and year Example: newer_than:2dMeaning: Finds messages sent within the last two days.
is:chat Search for chat messages Example: is:chat monkeyMeaning: Any chat message including the word “monkey.”
deliveredto: Search for messages within a particular email address in the Delivered-To line of the message header Example: deliveredto:[email protected]Meaning: Any message with [email protected] 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).
circle: Search for messages that were sent from someone who you added to a particular Google+ circle Example: circle:friendsMeaning: Any message that was sent by a person in your “Friends” circle.Examples: circle:”soccer friends (team blue)” or circle:”my \”fab four\””

Notes: For circle names that include a space, parentheses, curly brackets, or vertical bar, add quotes around the name. For names that include quotes, add a back slash immediately before the quotes.

has:circle Search for all messages that were sent from someone who you added to your Google+ circles Example: has:circle Meaning: Any message that was sent by a person in any of your circles.
category: Search for messages within a category Example: category:updatesMeaning: All messages in the Updates category.Example: category:social Mindy

Meaning: Messages in the Social category that include “Mindy.”

size: Search for messages larger than the specified size in bytes Example: size:1000000 Meaning: All messages larger than 1MB (1,000,000 bytes) in size.
larger:smaller: Similar to size: but allows abbreviations for numbers Example: larger:10M Meaning: All messages of at least 10M bytes (10,000,000 bytes) in size.
+(plus sign) Match the search term exactly Example: +unicorn Meaning: Finds messages containing “unicorn” but not “unicorns” or “unciorn”
rfc822msgid: Find a message by the message-id header Example: rfc822msgid:[email protected]Meaning: Locates the exact message with the specified SMTP message-id. Learn more about headers.
has:userlabelshas:nouserlabels Search for messages that have and have not had labels that you created applied to them.NOTE: Gmail applies labels to individual messages, not to conversation threads. Example: has:nouserlabelsMeaning: Finds all messages without any of your own labels (excludes automatic labels like inbox, spam, and trash). Since Gmail applies labels to individual messages, you might see results that appear to have labels; in this case, another message in the same conversation thread has had a label applied to it.


Boolean operators

You can use boolean operators such as ‘OR’ when searching in Gmail.

For example, to look for messages from [email protected] and messages that contain the subject line ‘Meeting reminder’, you can enter ‘[email protected] OR meeting reminder’ in your Gmail search box.

Using these along with Gmail’s advanced operators can be a great way of making your search criteria more powerful.

The ‘or’ function in Gmail is represented by ‘OR,’ and the ‘not’ function is represented by a minus (-). You also can use quotes (” “) to specify an exact phrase.