How to Search in Gmail

Need to find something in Gmail? Perhaps all emails to or from a particular person? Or how about an email that had a particular subject? Or maybe even any emails that had attachments on them? You can do all of those things! This is Google’s email service, after all; they put everything they learned from creating one of the Internet’s most popular search engines into making how to find things on Gmail a snap!

How to Search Gmail

  1. Go to and log in. At the very top of the screen, you will see a search bar. This will appear on pretty much every page in Gmail: Inbox, Settings, a particular conversation, you name it.
  2. Click inside the search bar and start typing. As you do, a drop-down menu will appear in which Gmail will make suggestions on what you might be looking for. It might suggest a specific person and their email address, a particular label that you’ve created and with which you’ve marked certain emails, words that were used in the subject of an email, or a word/phrase that you’ve searched for before.You can click one of these recommendations, or if none of them exactly match what you’re looking for, you can simply click the search button () or press “Enter” on your keyboard to search Gmail for exactly what you typed in.

    Also note that you can use the search bar in Gmail to search for something outside of Gmail with Google’s regular search engine. After typing in what you’re looking for, click “Search the web for [what you typed in]” at the bottom of the drop-down menu to search the entire Internet for that thing, just like you would with Google Search.

Performing an Advanced Search with Gmail

  1. You will notice that there is an arrow icon () button at the right-hand edge of the search bar, next to the search button (). If you move your mouse cursor over it, it will say “Show search options”. Click it, and it will bring up a window with additional ways for you to refine your search.
  2. Now, let’s look at some of the advanced options for searching with Gmail. At the top, you can click the drop-down menu labeled “Search” and select a specific subset of email that you want to search within. For example, you can look in just the ones you’ve sent, that are in your “Spam” or “Trash” folders, or that are marked with a certain label.

    Then you can click the boxes below the “Search” menu to type in or select your email search parameters, including:

    – who sent you it
    – to whom you sent it
    – particular words in the subject line
    – specific words anywhere in it
    – certain words absent from it
    – whether or not it has an attachment
    – whether its memory space is larger or smaller than a certain amount
    – whether it was sent or received within a certain number of days from a certain date

    If you want to make a filter to do things automatically with emails that fit your criteria, you can click Create Filter With This Search. See our lesson on Gmail filters for further instructions on how to create them.

  3. When you’ve entered all of the conditions for the emails that you want to search for, click the search button () at the bottom of the pop-up window to begin your search.  A new list will appear with all emails that fit your search criteria.

Now you know how to search for and find any email that you’re looking for in Gmail!