How to Find All Unread Messages in Gmail

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

When you check Gmail for new messages, you might miss some if they're positioned in between those you've already read. That's why it can make sense to be sure you're only viewing unread mail. There are two ways to see just your unread emails in Gmail. No matter which one you choose, you'll only see messages that (1) you haven't opened, and (2) you've opened and then marked as unread.

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 Settings. If the Inbox tab isn't already displyed, select Inbox.

  2. In the Inbox type section, select Unread first from the drop-down menu.

    Unread first Inbox option in Gmail Settings
  3. 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
  4. At the bottom of the screen, select Save Changes.

    Save changes button in Gmail settings
  5. 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.

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.

  3. This one will show all the unread emails that came from any address.

    is:unread from:* 
  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:*