How to Search in Gmail

Last updated: January 26, 2017 - 11:07am EST

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.  Click the buttons in the screenshot below to learn about each of the options.


    Search Area

    Select which areas of Gmail you wish to search. For example, you can search:

    - All of your mail

    - Mail that you’ve sent

    - Mail that you’ve deleted or marked as "spam"

    - Mail marked with a certain label (“Important”, “Starred”, or a custom label that you created)



    Search your emails based on who sent them to you.



    Search your emails based on whom you’ve sent them to.



    Search your emails for ones with a particular subject, or for those that have particular words in their subjects.


    Has the Words

    Search your emails based on if they have certain words anywhere in either their subject lines or the actual text of the messages.


    Doesn’t Have

    Exclude emails from your search based on whether or not they have certain words anywhere in their subject lines or the actual text of their messages.


    Has an Attachment

    Clicking this box will exclude from your search all emails that don’t have attachments on them. Useful if you’re just looking for an attachment.



    Search your emails based on the amount of computer memory space that they take up; you can search for emails based on whether they take up more than or less than a certain amount of memory. This might be useful if the only thing you remember about an email is how long or short it was. Short emails usually take up very little memory, while long emails or ones with attachments usually take up significantly more memory.


    Date Within

    Search your emails based on when you sent or received them. For example, if you’re looking for an email that you think you remember getting two weeks ago,you can click the right box and select a date on that week, then click the left box and select to search for all emails sent or received within 1 week or 2 weeks of that date (before or after).


    Create Filter

    You can select what you want to do with the emails that you find with this search, as well as any future emails that match what you were looking for in the search. This option will be greyed out if you haven’t entered anything to look for yet.

  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!


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