On average, Gmail user receives 120 new emails daily. However, they read only the most important emails, with some reading the notification bar. Other unread emails get buried in a pile of new emails.
Scanning through your inbox to access old emails is easier said than done. Thankfully, Gmail allows you to find old emails faster, so you won’t have to sort emails one by one. Below are simple methods of accessing your old, unread emails in seconds.
Method 1: Let Unread Emails Appear First in Your Inbox
You can adjust your Gmail settings, so unread messages appear first in your inbox. This setting is applicable whether you are using Gmail on the web or an app. Additionally, the setting is automatically updated on all devices; if you update via the Gmail app, it’s automatically updated on the web version.
#1. Show Unread Messages When on the Web
Step 1: Sign in to your Gmail inbox
Step 2: Open inbox settings
Click on the screen’s settings icon at the top right corner and then click on more settings. Navigate to the inbox tab, which is the third on the list, to open settings that are specific to the inbox.
Step 3: Change inbox type to unread first
Click on the drop-down menu next to default in inbox type and select unread first.
Step 4: Select the number of unread messages you want to see in your inbox
Go to inbox sections and click the dropdown menu next to options under unread. Select the number of unread messages you want to see in your inbox. Consider a higher number if you have a busy inbox.
Step 5: Save the changes
Scroll down to the bottom and click save changes to activate the changes you made to your inbox.
Step 6: Confirm the changes you made
Go back to your inbox, and you will realize that your unread emails are displayed first, and then read emails are pushed below.
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#2. Show Unread Messages First on the Gmail App
Step 1: Sign in to your Google mail inbox
Click on the Gmail app with a large M as its icon and enter your Gmail account credentials to log in.
Step 2: Open the account’s settings.
Click the three dots at the top left area of your screen to open a menu, then scroll down to settings. Under settings, click on the Gmail account you’d like to adjust its settings.
Step 3: Set inbox type to unread first
Under the account’s settings, click inbox type, which is the first option, then check the unread first.
Step 4: Gmail will show the unread messages first
With this setting, the unread emails will appear first in the Gmail inbox, followed by read emails. You will also get a new folder for the unread messages where you can switch between the default inbox and the unread first inbox.
Method 2: Search for Unread Emails
You can search for unread emails if you do not want to change your inbox’s default setting. This is possible on a phone or computer using the search label ‘is:unread.’ Here are the steps:
#1. Unread Messages on the Web
Step 1: Open the folder with the email you need
Open your browser and search mail.google.com. This will open your Gmail inbox or prompt you to enter your account details to log in. Once in your inbox, select the folder with the unread email you need. If you need help determining its location, click the All Mail folder.
Step 2: Search for unread messages
Go to the search bar, type “is:unread” (without quotation marks), and pound enter. This will display all the unread messages in your selected folder or label.
To get unread messages from a specific category, say primary, search “label: unread category:primary” (without quotations). This will shortlist unread messages only in the primary tab.
#2. Unread Messages in the Mobile App
Step 1: Open your Gmail application and log in to your Gmail account
Download the Gmail app if you don’t have it on your phone and enter your Gmail account details to open your Gmail inbox.
Step 2: Open the search bar
Tap on the search icon at the top right of the screen to open a search field
Step 3: Search for your unread email
Type “is:unread” on the search bar that opens after clicking the search icon and select enter or search. This search will give you every unread email in your inbox.
#3. Adding an Unread Label
Although you can get your unread messages by searching “is:unread” on the search bar, you can make the search more specific using the search filters. These search filters help you add a label that holds all unread emails that fit your search criteria. Here is how to do it:
Step 1: On your Gmail inbox, go to the search field
Log in to your Gmail account, then click on the search bar at the top. Your cursor will blink on this space, ready for you to enter your search criteria.
Step 2: Search for the unread messages
Type is:unread in the search bar and hit enter to get a result of all unread emails. You can also click the search icons to search.
Step 3: Create a filter
Click on the “show search options” to the right of the search bar to open a field where you can create a filter. Enter all the details you remember about the unread email you are looking for and select the create filter below.
Step 4: Confirm your filter
Step 5: Choose what happens to similar messages
Click ok on the confirmation message to continue making the filter for unread emails.
Tick the box to the left of Apply the label, then click the drop-down to the right of choose label and select new label.
Step 6: Create a new label
A New Label dialogue box opens. Type the name of your new label and click create to save the new label name.
Step 7: Check whether the unread emails that meet your search criteria fall under this label
Go back to your inbox, click the label icon at the top and open the label you created. Your unread emails that fit your search criteria will be under this label.
Other Methods to Refine Your Search
You can also refine your search without using the filter function. Instead of using the search options function, you type the whole of your search criteria on the search bar.
Search for Unread Emails Using a Date
Find unread emails with a date range.
To search unread messages sent on a specific date, you type “is:unread before:(date) after:(date).
Search for Unread Emails Using the Sender’s Name
To search for an unread email using the sender’s name, search “is:unread from: (email address).”
Looking for unread emails helps you avoid missing out on an important email and makes organizing your inbox easier. Thankfully, it is possible to find unread emails whether you are using a phone or a computer. Use the methods above to help you find those emails you may have received a while ago but haven’t opened yet.
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