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October 2, 2006

Hidden Labels in Gmail

If you enable saving your chat history in Gmail, your conversations from Google Talk are saved as standard emails. To make them stand out from the rest of messages, Gmail adds two labels: chat and chats.

If you want to search your chats, you just have to add label:chat to your query. If you want to search only your mail, exclude the chats by adding -label:chat.

Gmail has many other hidden labels that can make your life easier, so you don't have to use the advanced search:

* label:inbox - search only your Inbox. It's a good idea to keep your Inbox clean.

* label:star (label:starred) - search only your starred messages. You can use the star button like a bookmarking system. Star only important messages.

* label:draft (or label:drafts) - search only unfinished messages. Drafts could be used for storing notes or emails that must be sent later.

* label:sent (or label:sentmail, label:sent-mail, label:sent mail ) - search only sent mail. It may be useful to restrict your search only to messages you've sent, or only to messages you've received if you add a minus.

* label:all (or label:allmail, label:all-mail, label:all mail ) - search all your mail, including messages from Trash (label:trash) and Spam (label:spam).

* label:read and label:unread. Restrict your search only to read mail or unread mail. For example, to find all your sent messages that have unread replies, you can search for label:unread label:sent.

* label:voicemail (or label:voicemails ) - search only the voicemail received from a Google Talk user.

It's nice that you can combine all these labels with user-defined labels in a query. To show results that have both label A and label B, just search for label:A label:B. To show results that have one of the labels A and B or both, just search for label:A OR label:B.

Update: Instead of label:A, you can just type l:A. [Thank you, Busse].


  1. Google indeed would never ceaze to amaze us all !

    With enhancement like there and "Keyboard shortcuts" - Gmail developers are doing an impressive task indeed !

  2. I prefer to use the in:whatever (such as in:inbox, in:all, in:sent) syntax.

  3. A long time ago it was also possible to create Labels with those system name, such as "Unread". As a result, I have an "Unread" label which gathers all my unread mail (including mails I don't see in the inbox because some filters take care of them and archive it) which is way cool and very missed in more recent accounts.

  4. dugg dugg dugg. the story is dugg. the digg effect.

  5. Don't forget the search

    It makes it easy if you want to free up some space or if you are searching for an e-mail from someone that has an attachment.

  6. Thanks for the tips!

    label:spam seems to work too. Useful for finding false-negatives.

  7. most of this post is old news:

  8. One more trick, concerning drafts.

    I have, on occasion, used my gmail account to transfer a iseful utility from one of my machines to another.

    Gmail scans the .exe files, and prevents you from sending them -- but nothing stops you from uploading it as a draft message, then downloading it on the other end.

    I've got a few neat little utilities stored there, so if I am at a friend's computer, I know right where to go to find a tool I need.

  9. I also use to:molly and from:bob to sort by senders and recipients.

  10. label:spam works... nice! There's no other way to search the spam folder! Can be useful to find false positives or mails related to 'enlargements' =)

  11. l:tag works as a shorter version of label:tag

  12. I just came across another blog which has plaguarised your post almost entirely.
    You may want to contact him and ask for a backlink.

  13. What gmail lacks is a search like "-label". Thankfully firefox users can use this cool script.

  14. How do I create folders in LABELS containing sub files to sort subjects like mac uses rather than have gazillions of labels?

  15. Why isn't there an "unlabeled" (e.g., label:unlabeled)? I usually have most of my messages labeled (automatically or manually). I would like to be able to view all of my messages that I haven't labeled yet.

  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

  17. what about searching for emails that are sent or received from contacts. there are times when I dont wnat to see emails from email id that are not in my gmail address book.

  18. Srinivas, you do that by going to Contacts, selecting the contact, and clicking "Recent conversations: Show".

    anonymous, read mail is simply marked as read, so you don't need a label for that. You can use in:read or in:unread to see them.

  19. earlier I said this:
    >> what about searching for emails that are sent or received from contacts. there are times when I dont wnat to see emails from email id that are not in my gmail address book.

    Actually what I want to search/see emails that are sent or received from ALL of my contacts.

  20. Is it possible to go straight to a label with a URL such as this one?

  21. @anonymous above:
    Yes, but only in the new version of Gmail (available for IE7, Firefox 2, Safari 3).

  22. i have mails from a particular domain going to my spam. this mails when opened have the "report spam" button instead of the "unspam" and the "label:spam".

    i want the mails to come to my inbox. so wanted to know how is the spam lable different from the link on the left which says spam.

  23. There's no big difference. When you enter "label:spam", you'll see search results. When you click on "Spam", Gmail shows the same messages as before, but it also adds some appropriate actions like "Not Spam".

  24. There should have been a way to find all labelled conversation by [has:label, is:labelled] so that one can find all unlabelled conversations.

    They have this note on the gmail advanced search page:

    "*There isn't a search operator for unlabeled messages."


  25. I would like to use placeholders like ? and * with my labels

  26. Here's how to label all your incoming mail in googlemail with '! unlabelled' so that you can easily find any mail you don't get around to re-labelling.

    First create the new label, '! unlabelled', in the usual way.

    Then Create a filter, using your googlemail address in the 'To:' box, and on the next step, select your new label, '! unlabelled'.

    Try it out by sending a test message to yourself.

  27. "in:unread" tested. result ok. :)