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Using search in Gmail

Sometimes, the fastest way to find an email in Gmail, is to search. Just like you use Google search to find things on the internet, you can search in Gmail to find messages in your mail box. For example, if I’m looking for a message about a recent project, I could enter the name of […]
May 9, 2013 10:00 am

Using search in Gmail

Sometimes, the fastest way to find an email in Gmail, is to search.

Just like you use Google search to find things on the internet, you can search in Gmail to find messages in your mail box. For example, if I’m looking for a message about a recent project, I could enter the name of the project. When I do this, Gmail searches in the subject of the message, its body, who the message was sent to, and even the name of any attachments.

This is great and often a simple search like this, is all you need. But what if your search returns hundreds of results? At that point, you’ll want to narrow it down. Let me show you how. A good way to narrow your search, is to use a couple terms together. If I want to find messages from my manager about a certain project, I would enter her name and the project name. This shows me only messages that include both my managers name, and the project name. When you use multiple words in a search like that, Google gives you results that have all those words somewhere in the message.

Now, if you need to, you can get more specific results by using search options. Here, you can narrow your search to specific parts of the message. For example, you can search only by the sender of the message, the subject, or the time frame where the message came in. Just like you might have sorted messages by sender, subject, or date in your own mail program. But did you know there is an even faster way to use search options? Let me show you that. If you remember, the search options had a place where you could search by sender, by entering a name or email address in the from box. Or from here, I can do the same thing simply by typing from, then a colon, followed directly by the senders email address.

This works with a lot of other terms too. For example, I can type 2 colons, which searches for messages I’ve sent to somebody. Subject colon is another example, which searches only the subject of the message. And there are some other terms you might not think of, but should try as well. Say you need to find a message with an attachment. Well, if you type has colon attachment, Gmail shows you only messages with some sort of file attached. Then to narrow your search even more, include another term, like a from address, to find only messages with an attachment that are from that person.

Another good one is to type in colon, then a label name, to list messages with a certain label, just like opening a folder in your own mail program. And to really narrow things down, I can search for messages that are within a label, from a certain person, and have an attachment, to find that one elusive message I’m really looking for.

Alright. One last example before I’m done and it’s probably my favorite. You can have Gmail search for messages with certain states or attributes, using is. If I want to find all the messages I’ve starred, I’d use is colon starred. This works with unread messages as well. And notice when I type in  this colon,  there’s some other options here too. So go try those out. In fact, to see a whole list of search options, go to mail help and type search options in the help search box.

Thanks for reading using search in Gmail!

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