How to Find All Unread Messages in Gmail

There are two easy ways of viewing messages that need your attention

What to Know

  • To list unread emails, go to Settings > See all settings > Inbox > Inbox type > Unread first. Adjust settings in Inbox, then Save Changes.
  • To search unread emails, type is:unread into the search bar, then press Enter on your keyboard.
  • In Gmail, unread emails include messages you haven't opened and messages you have opened but marked as unread.

It's easy to overlook some messages in Gmail. In this article, we provide instructions on how to make Gmail show only unread emails, how to search for unread emails only, and how to add parameters to those searches.

How to Make Gmail Show Unread Emails First

You can set Gmail to make unread messages appear at the top of your Inbox. Here's how.

  1. Within Gmail, in the top-right corner of the screen, select Settings (gear icon). From the drop-down list, choose See all settings.

    Selecting See all settings in Gmail.
  2. If the Inbox tab isn't already displayed, select Inbox.

    Selecting Inbox in Gmail settings.
  3. In the Inbox type section, select Unread first from the drop-down menu.

    Unread first Inbox option in Gmail Settings.
  4. In the Inbox sections section, make your selections using the drop-down menu. You can opt to show up to 50 unread items at one time. You can also choose to hide the Unread section when there are no unread messages.

    Options for Unread messages in Gmail settings.
  5. At the bottom of the screen, select Save Changes.

    Save changes button in Gmail settings.
  6. Back in your Inbox, you'll now see an Unread section followed by an Everything else section. You can select Unread to hide that section.

How to Search for Unread Messages

Gmail also makes it simple to search for messages that are unread within any label.

  1. In the left rail, select any label you'd like to search in.

  2. In the search bar at the top of the screen, you'll see label:XX where XX is your label title. Without deleting any of that text, type is:unread after it. So, if your label is named "work," the entire search term should be label:work is:unread.

    Be sure to include a space after your label name.

    is:unread filter for searching Gmail unread messages.
  3. To submit the search, press Enter on your keyboard. All the unread emails in that label appear. Everything else in the label is temporarily hidden. To see everything in the folder again, delete is:unread and press Enter.

Refine Your Search

You can add additional search operators to find unread emails between certain dates, from certain people, or other specific parameters.

  1. In this example, Gmail will only show unread emails between December 28, 2017, and January 1, 2018.​

    is:unread before:2018/01/01 after:2017/12/28
  2. Here's an example of how to see unread messages from a certain email address only.

    is:unread from:googlealerts-noreply@google.com 
  3. This one will show all the unread emails that came from any @google.com address.

    is:unread from:*@google.com 
  4. Another common one is to search Gmail for unread messages by name instead of email address.

    is:unread from:Jon
  5. Finally, you can combine a few of these elements for a super-specific search. A search for unread emails from any sender at Bank of America before June 15, 2017, would look like this.

    is:unread before:2017/06/15 from:*@bankofamerica.com
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