Modified 21 March 2017 by Ian Weatherhogg


The search function within Gmail is a powerful tool, which can be enhanced even further with these boolean operators

Advanced search, or boolean, operators are query words or symbols that enhance the search for email(s) within Gmail. Getting to grips with the most common of these operators will allow you to find the email you are looking for quickly and accurately.

Gmail now has an advanced search drop down panel (click the arrow on the right of the search box) with fields that help you search and the ability to choose a label to search within. However, knowing these advanced search operators will help you refine your search even further.

You can use the search panel to start a search, once you click the search button your chosen search will be shown as a boolean search in the search box, then use the terms below to refine it further.

Common advanced operators:






Search for sender Sent from Mark W


Search for recipient Sent to Mark W


Search in subject line

subject:collaboration Contains "collaboration" in the subject

subject:collaboration From Mark with "collaboration" in subject

" "

Search for exact phrase

"tips on collaboration" Email contains the exact phrase "tips on collaboration"


Search using term "A" or "B" - OR must be uppercase

collaboration OR document Contains the words "collaboration" or "document"

from:mark OR ian Sent from Mark or Ian


Exclude terms from your search (use a hyphen)

"collaboration" -office Email contains the term "collaboration" but not "office"


is:unread / read


Search for emails that are starred; read; or unread

Search for chat messages

from:mark is:unread Emails from Mark that are unread

is:chat from:ian Search for chat messages from Ian

( )

Group words that the email contains

from:mark (collaboration OR document) Emails from Mark that contain "collaboration" or "document"

subject:(collaboration document) Emails that contain the terms "collaboration" and "document" in the subject


Search an attachment by filename

filename:plan subject:marketing Emails with an attachment including the word "plan" and a subject including "marketing"



Search for emails that have attachments

Search for emails with coloured stars

from:mark has:attachment Emails from Mark with an attachment

has:purple-star "collaborate" Emails with a purple star that contain the term "collaborate"



Search cc: and bcc: fields

cc: Emails copied to Mark W


Search within labels, inbox, trash etc

subject:collaboration in:colleagues Emails that contain "collaboration" labelled as "colleagues"