We're big Gmail fans here at PC Advisor.  Anyone who likes to keep all their emails for future reference benefits from Google's amazing search powers. Here are our top tips on sifting through it all to find what you want using clever search filters: here's how to find old emails in Gmail.

First, be sure to read our other Gmail tips as there are bound to be some that will make your life easier. If you're interested only in finding old emails, read on.

How to find old Gmail emails: advanced search

Sometimes it's easy to search for an email because you can think of at least one word which will be unique to that email or thread.

Other times, you won't know what the body contains, or can't remember accurately enough. If you know roughly when the email arrived, you can use search operators including date filters like this:


The date format must be as above: year/month/day. Naturally, you can stack filters to only see emails from a particular person like this:

Before:2015/01/31 from:[email protected]

If you're getting too many results you can add a word as a search term to narrow down emails from that person to only those containing the word:

Before:2015/01/31 from:[email protected] Scotland

It's also possible to exclude certain words to refine the list even more. So if you wanted to see emails about Scotland but omit any with Glasgow, you'd enter:

Before:2015/01/31 from:[email protected] Scotland -Glasgow

The '-' operator excludes messages with the word following the hyphen. However, if you're after an email with a particular phrase use quotes to force Gmail to only list messages containing words in that order, such as:

"Forest of Dean"

Other time-based searches include a date range (this would find all emails in your inbox from August 2014):

After:2014/08/01 Before:2014/09/01

Often, you'll only want to see emails from someone with an attachment so you can use:

From:[email protected] has:attachment

Another useful operator lets you search only certain mailboxes. So, to check a message hasn't been accidentally deleted you could search for:

From:john in:trash

Note that you don't have to type out the full email address - Gmail might offer to autocomplete it, but running the search above as written will return a list of all emails where the address contains the name John from the Trash folder. You could replace trash with inbox, spam or sent to check other folders.

If you use Priority Inbox you can add is:important to the search phrase to only return messages tagged as important.