Back in October I posted some useful tips on Googling Effectively. Then, about 2 weeks later, I posted some More Google Tips in addition to my first post detailing some more of the effective ways you can utilize Google to refine your search results. Many people don’t know this, but there are also plenty of different search operators you can use to search through your email if you use Gmail as your primary email account. So today I’ll be going over just a few of the operators that I find most useful and I’ll also post a link at the end which will list all of the operators you can use with Gmail as well as how to use them.
- The from operator: You can probably already tell by it’s name that this operator is used to search for emails you receive from a specific sender. You can specify an email address or a name when using it. Like most of the other search operators, you use a colon after it with no space (from:Steve or from:PersonEmail@provider.com). Take note that this will filter the results to show only the messages that are received from the person you specify.
- The to operator: This does the same exact thing as the from operator, but instead of filtering the search for emails received from someone, you will get results of emails that you sent to someone.
- The subject operator: This operator can come in handy if you’re searching for an email that’s deep inside the inbox. It’s used to search the subject line of all emails for a word or words that you specify. It can be used like so: subject:grades. Also take note that there is no space between the colon and the word. If you want to add more words to the search, all you have to do is add a pair of parentheses around the words: subject:(grades CIS).
- The after and before operators: This operator is great when you are trying to search for email between certain dates. Just like all the other operators, you specify the name or the operator followed by a colon and a date without a space. The date should be formatted yyyy/mm/dd. It will look something like this: after:2010/08/12 before:2012/01/07. This will search for all emails between August 12, 2010 and January 7th, 2012.
- The hyphen/dash operator: I’ve mentioned this one in my previous posts but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to mention it again here. If you add a dash (-) before a word or in front of an operator (-subject:grades), it will omit those terms from your search.
- The filename operator: This serves the same function as the filetype operator I discussed in my previous posts but is used specifically for emails. Let’s say you’re working on a group project all semester where you and your group send .doc files attached to emails to share everything that has been done during the project. Then, at the end of the semester, you want to go back and look through all the files you shared with one another to see if there is anything important you may have left out in a report. You can use this operator to search for all the emails you have that contain an attachment by using this operator (filename:.doc). You can also use this to search for PDFs, JPEGS, .txt files, etc. Play around with it and see what other filetypes you can search for.
- The in operator: This operator serves the purpose of specifying which folder you would like to search. You use it like so: in:inbox or in:trash or in:spam. If you have created your own folders, you can also use this operator with them (in:MyFolderName). Then, you can combine any of the operators above with this one to narrow your results in the specific folder you want to search in.
These are the operators that I use the most with my Gmail account and I’ve found that they are very useful. As promised, click here to get a complete list of all the other operators you can use in Gmail.
I hope you guys find this helpful and use it to your advantage so it will no longer be such a pain to sift through your email.