How to find old messages on Gmail?

Last updated: January 2, 2023

Regular cleaning of your Gmail box is one of the important elements that allows access to all these e-mails quickly. But unfortunately, the majority of people don't.

So when it is necessary find a certain email, it can sometimes become a bit of an obstacle course. If you are here, it must have happened to you. So here we will show you how to find an old message on Gmail in just a few clicks.

The easiest way, use the search bar

The first thing we will give you is a way that a good part of the people who regularly use Gmail know, it is a function that is extremely practical for precisely finding emails.

However, we are also aware that some of our readers may be beginners in computers and the Internet, so it is better to start with the basics, i.e. the function gmail search.

You have surely noticed this small bar which is just above your emails. Well, this one allows you to search inside of them, much like using Google to search on the Web.

So, here you can type things that will make it easy for you to find your email. It can for example be the title of this one if you remember it which generally gives very good results.

You no longer have the title? This is completely normal, but you surely know the person who sent you this email. Typing her name on Gmail will show you anyone specifically sent by her.

Remember to bookmark important messages

As we have just said, we often have tons of emails that are not very interesting as the day goes on. Thus, important friends can end up getting lost on Gmail and to avoid this and future research, there are solutions, however.

The first solution is simply to add email conversations to your favorites. On Gmail, just click on the little yellow bookmark at the top right of the email.

Thus, these mails indicated as favorites, they will stand out much more easily compared to all the others on Gmail. It is very practical to find the mail that we are looking for on Gmail to see it appear to us in a more readable way than the rest.

So if in addition to that, you regularly sort through advertising and uninteresting emails, you should soon see much more clearly in your mailbox and no longer lose what is important.

Use Gmail's "before" command

Now that we have seen the basics of searching for email in Gmail, let's see some techniques that are a little more advanced and that will allow you to do more precise searches.

The first word that we will use to be able to do this research is the function before. Here, the idea is simple, it is that you have received an email which you know dates from a few years ago, let's say July 2017 for the example.

Well, as we told you at the very beginning of the article on the search function, you will be able to type in a keyword or a recipient to find it. Except that to avoid having all the messages after this month of July 2017, here is the command that you will be able to put before your keyword on Gmail: before:2017/7/31

Via this function, only messages sent before July 31, 2017 will appear in your search. Be careful all the same to a small detail that is important in what you are going to hit.

If in France, we put the days before the months, in the USA, it's the opposite. You will therefore have to type the number corresponding to the month, before that corresponding to the day, otherwise you will have unpleasant surprises with either erroneous results or a command that does not work at all!

Juggling Gmail's "before and after" commands

Let's say you know even more precisely when this email was sent to you on Gmail and that it was between July 1 and July 31, 2017. Well, it is possible to refine the search even more in your Gmail box.

Here, the idea is to not only use the command before (before in French), but also the command after (after in French). So let's go back to the example we just came up with.

The command you will have to type to search for an email from Christian Robert between July 1 and July 31, 2017 will therefore be as follows:

after:2017/07/01 before:2017/07/31 Christian Robert

Thus, you will only have the messages specifically sent by this person, between July 1 and July 31, 2017 that will appear. This will greatly facilitate your task in your future searches for emails.

En conclusion

There, you now know the different techniques that allow you to do a search on Gmail and almost certainly find the email you've been looking for for a while now.

These techniques, they are simple and if they require a little gymnastics of the brain to adapt the European format of the date to the American format, there is no doubt that you will get there quickly.

However, we still advise you to use the other techniques that you have been told, such as bookmarking important conversations or even regularly removing messages that do not interest you. This will save you a lot of hassle and hours of research the next time you're looking for a particular email.