How to Retrieve Archived Emails in Gmail

Did you lose an important message? It might be archived

Email archival illustration

Getty Images (Sally Elford/Ikon Images)

Google's Gmail service provides the opportunity to store messages in an archive for future viewing purposes, but you need to know where to find these archived emails and how to put them back in the inbox.

Gmail makes it easy to archive emails and just as easy to restore them to the inbox. However, you might not be aware of where in your Gmail account these archived emails are kept.

To view all the emails that have been previously archived, you need to access the All Mail label. After you find that part of Gmail, you can put archived Gmail messages back in your inbox to use them just like you did when you first received them.

Where to Find the Gmail Archived Mail

Although archived messages are removed from your inbox, they're still stored in your Gmail account and can be retrieved in just a few steps. These messages also remain indexed and appear when you search for Gmail messages.

You can open archived emails on a computer, tablet, or phone. Emails can be viewed while archived, but if you plan to continue the conversation, it is better to move them to the inbox.

Retrieve Archived Emails in a Browser

  1. Open Gmail in your browser. Hover your cursor over the navigation icons at the left of the screen to open the navigation panel.

    Gmail inbox with the navigation panel highlighted
  2. Select More at the bottom of the navigation panel to display additional options.

    Gmail navigation panel with the More option highlighted
  3. Select All Mail in the left navigation panel.

    Gmail navigation panel with the All Mail option highlighted
  4. Check the boxes next to any emails you want to return to your Inbox. The emails that are already in the Inbox are labeled Inbox in front of the subject line.

    Check boxes in front of emails to return to Inbox in Gmail
  5. Click the Move to inbox icon in the main toolbar above the emails.

    Gmail with the Move to Inbox button highlighted
  6. A confirmation appears to verify the emails have been moved to the Inbox. Click or press Undo if you want to reverse the process.

    Gmail confirmation dialogue box with the Undo button highlighted

Retrieve Archived Emails Using the Mobile App

Find the All Mail option on the mobile Gmail app by tapping the message and opening the menu button on the top right of the screen.

  1. Open the Gmail app on your mobile device to view the Inbox.

  2. Tap the three-line icon at the top of the screen and select All Mail in the panel that opens.

  3. Tap the email you want to retrieve.

    Gmail app with the All Mail command highlighted
  4. Select the 3-dot icon at the top of the email that opens.

  5. Tap Move to Inbox

    An email in the Gmail app with the More icon and Move to Inbox button highlighted

Tips to Avoid Accidental Archiving

It's fairly easy to slip up and accidentally archive a message. You can avoid this by taking the following precautions:

  • On a smartphone or tablet, take your time when scrolling through your messages and don't make any sudden swiping motions from right to left.
  • The archive swipe motion can be changed in the app's settings, via General settings > Swipe actions.
  • Keep your eyes open for any confirmation messages stating that a conversation has been archived. They're usually paired with an Undo button that you can use if necessary.