Search Unread Emails In Gmail

Lauren Fournier Technology, Tips 0 Comments

In this post: search cheatsheet on Google’s Gmail to find unread messages.

If you’re anything like me, your inbox get a little cluttered. I use the Gmail Tabs to help filter the type of content so that I can easily find what I’m looking for.
… which really just means I only pay attention to my Primary tab and then ignore the Promotions, Forums, and Social tabs.

I may or may not have 994 unread messages. I never delete anything (due to Google Fiber’s awesome storage), but especially with spam messages, it’s pretty easy to determine from the shown snippet if I actually even want to open the emails I receive. I usually skip it unless it’s from someone/a company I know or want to hear from.

Which is kind of funny, as I’m typically Type-A and having unread messages on my phone drives me bonkers. But after awhile, even on Gmail, the amount of unread messages shown in that left-hand menu do start to wear on me and I want to do some clean up.

Gmail Search Cheatsheets

Gmail is a lifesaver in general, but it unfortunately makes search much more complicated than it needs to be. Use the following cheatsheets to easily find unread messages in different circumstances.

Search for unread messages JUST in your primary inbox

More often, I need to find the unread email JUST in my primary inbox. These are the annoying messages that are counted & show in the left-hand menu.

To find unread emails in my Primary tab, type this in the search box:

category:primary is:unread

Once I mark all these as `read,` they won’t show in that menu and my account will look like I’m all organized (even if there still are unread messages in promotions, social, and forums).

Search for ALL unread messages

You can search all of your tabs for unread messages with this search term:

label: unread

This search term returns all unread messages located in your email mail account, including primary, promotions, forums, and social.

Select All Messages in Search Result

Don’t want to go page-by-page to delete or mark all as read?

Click this:

And then click this:

And take whatever action you’d like to affect all of the emails in your selection, like mark all as read:


But be careful: if you delete all of these messages, there is a very small chance of bringing them back!

I hope this helps you!

Having 0 unread messages certainly makes me smile:

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