Gmail’s use of labels is one of its most distinguishing characteristics and probably one of the handiest. The ability Gmail has to separate your incoming mail into various groups like promotional emails, emails from social networks and important ones, makes it much easier to manage your email. But did you know that there are custom labels you can create and some hidden ones that you may want to make use of as well.
Searching for Labeled Email Basics
Some people spend far too much time managing their email because they aren’t aware of how powerful Gmail actually is. You can choose any label that you create or that has already been created by Google and display those emails. For example is:unread will show you everything that you have not marked as read or opened, in:sent will show you emails that you have sent and any other label that you can think of, you can type after the in: and it will display those emails without you having to click on the category on the left sidebar.
Using Gmail’s Hidden Labels Most Effectively
There are so many useful operators that you can do almost anything in Gmail if you know how to which one to type. For example, what if you want to know which emails were CCed to you? You can use cc:me. You can also use in:anywhere if you want to search all of your folders at once including the spam folders to trash folders and more. This is very useful when you know you have an email out there somewhere and you’ve no idea where might be. You can also see emails that don’t have Labels by using the operator has:nouserlabels.
What if you want to combine labels? All you do is type in one operator after the other. For example you can use the operator label:work and before:date in order to see all of the emails before that particular date that were labeled work; if you want to reverse a search then you simply put a – before it. Interestingly, many of these will also work with Craigslist and Google search.
Google is pretty good at knowing which of your emails are going to be important and which are not – and your email usually errs on the side of caution anyway. If you want to search through important emails for something then you can use the operator is:important and is:unimportant – or you can use the – mentioned earlier. For someone who gets the massive amount of emails using the operators is:important and is:unread is a great way to find important emails that you haven’t opened yet and that may have slipped through the cracks.
You have probably noticed that Gmail sorts your email into different categories. By default you should have primary, social and promotions. You can add other categories as well. For example if you get a lot of form updates and you want them to all be placed in one area you can sort them. You can also search them that way so that if you are after a particular email and it comes in one of those categories or has one of those labels you can narrow down your search.
A couple of last-minute ones that are pretty important and useful include the operator has:attachment if you only want to look at emails that something has been attached to. Notice this will include your sent emails unless you tell it not to include your sent emails. You can also use has:circle if you want to look at emails that come from people within your Google plus circles.
Finally if you use multicolored stars to separate important emails you can use is: yellow-star, green-star, purple-star and many others to search within those particular labels. You can also use is:starred if you just want to look at starred emails in general.
With these commands at your fingertips, you should be able to find anything you need within seconds. These are extremely powerful operators that can be used to narrow down searches easily but they are not the only ones that are out there. See Gmail help for an entire list of operators.