Quickly Find Your Oldest Gmail Messages

How to sort your Gmail by date

When you open your Gmail Inbox or Sent Mail folders, the first page displays the most recent messages you sent or received. If you'd rather see the oldest emails first, you can sort by date in Gmail to display messages in reverse chronological order.

Person choosing "Oldest" from Gmail sorting options
Lifewire / Melissa Ling

Instructions in this article apply to the web version of Gmail. It's not possible to sort messages by date in the Gmail app.

How to View Gmail Messages in Reverse Chronological Order

When you sort messages by date in Gmail, you'll see the last page of messages first, but the messages will still be listed from newest to oldest. If a folder has only one page of messages, you can just look at the bottom of the screen to see the oldest conversation. If a folder has multiple pages of messages, you can use this workaround:

You can adjust how many conversations should be shown per page in your Gmail settings.

  1. Select the arrow beside Inbox in the left pane, then choose Default.

    Default view checked in Gmail Inbox view preferences
  2. In the top-right corner just above your messages, there's a number that shows how many emails are in the current folder. Hover your mouse over the email counter until a small menu drops down and choose Oldest. You should immediately be taken to the last page of emails in that folder; the oldest message is listed at the very bottom.

    To move back to a previous screen to see newer messages, use the back arrow between the email count and the Settings gear.

    Oldest option in Gmail Inbox menu with Default view
  3. If you want to read your Gmail messages in their default order, select the email counter and choose Newest from the drop-down menu.

    Newer arrow in Gmail Inbox in Default view for reverse chronological order

Search Gmail by Date

If you just want to find a message from a specific point in time, you can search your Gmail by date. You can even combine search operators to display messages between specific dates. Examples of valid search queries include:

after:1/1/2020 Display messages after the date.
before:12/31/2019 Display messages before the date.
after:1/1/2020 or before:1/7/2020 Display messages between two dates.
older_than:3d Display messages older than 3 days.
newer_than:1m Display messages newer than 1 month.
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