Gmail comes with a nifty feature called Archive that allows you to move any email you don’t want to read to archive. You can also delete that email but what if you wanted to access it later? That’s why archive is a better solution, in case you are in doubt. While archiving an email is super easy on both desktop and mobile, retrieving archived emails in Gmail can be tricky. Turns out, there is no dedicated label for Archive.
This has been an on-going issue for sometime now. With Gmail refusing to come up with a solution that makes lives easier, I found a support thread that sheds some light. Let’s understand it in better light.
1. How to Archive an Email in Gmail
Select the emails you want to archive and click on the folder with the down arrow icon to archive it. I wish there was an equally easy way to find or retrieve archived emails in Gmail.
If you are using Gmail on your smartphone, simply swipe towards the right to archive it. This gesture will depend on your Gmail app settings. You can configure it to your liking. Open Settings and select Swipe actions to edit.
2. Search to Find Archived Emails in Gmail
I have archived an email from CoinMarketCap to test these methods. When you archive an email, it is still on Gmail servers and you can directly search for them if you know the title or content of the email.
In the example above, a simple search for the sender of the email will list all the emails I ever received from them. That list will include emails that are archived, in the Inbox or are saved with any other label. In the example below, the first email in the search results is the one that I had archived.
You can also search for the email by content as I did which narrows down the results significantly. Google is known for its search prowess. That’s there bread and butter, after all. The only question is how well can you use it.
Once you have located the archived email that you were looking for, simply select them and select the Move to Inbox icon to move it back to where it was. You can also label it accordingly like you always do.
All emails in this list that do not have any label next to it are archived emails.
Also Read: 15+ Best Gmail Chrome Extensions (2018)
3. Retrieve Archived Emails in Gmail’s All Mail Label
All Mail aptly describes the kind of emails that it houses. All. It doesn’t matter where your emails are stored or under which label, you can find them under the All Mail tab on the left. Scroll a little to find the option in the left sidebar. If you are using a smartphone, you will find it under the menu.
While this method works equally well, there is one problem. What if the email is really old? How far can you really scroll down and for how long? All Mail is a better option to find archived email in Gmail if the same was archived recently. Like a few days ago or maybe even weeks. Anything longer than that can quickly become a chore. A lot will also depend on the number of emails you receive on a daily basis.
4. Search Operators to Retrieve Archived Emails in Gmail
Just like Google Search, you can also use search operators in Gmail. You just have to come up with something that narrows the search result to what you are looking for. Archived emails. Here is a list of all the search operators that works inside Gmail.
Here is a search operator that should yield desirable results.
has:nouserlabels -in:Sent -in:Chat -in:Draft -in:Inbox
What we are doing here is removing all emails with labels, all emails that are saved in Sent, Inbox, Chat and Draft folders and then what remains are emails that are simply archived. Go on, try it.
You can see that search results contain only emails that were archived with no labels on any of them. You may have to further tweak results depending on what you are seeing. Might have to remove emails from a particular sender if you are seeing loads of them. The more results you are able to filter, the better search results you will get.
You can then move these emails back to inbox or your favorite label. The above search operator will also work in mobile apps. This is called process of elimination where instead of looking for emails that you wish to view, you will search for all emails and then eliminate the ones that you don’t want to see. That should leave the emails, in this case archived emails, visible.
Retrieve Archived Emails in Gmail
There are a few ways to retrieve archived emails in Gmail and depending on your needs, and the search results that you are seeing, you can go with one or more of these methods. A combination of these three methods may work for you. Recently archived emails are easy to spot as you don’t have to scroll a lot of find them in the search results. The search operators can further narrow down the results. Play around a little to find a solution that works best for you.