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 ability to store messages in an archive for future viewing purposes, but where do you find these archived emails? Can you put archived emails back in the inbox?

Gmail makes it extremely 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 emails that have been previously archived, you'll need to access the "All Mail" label. Below are instructions on how to find that part of Gmail, plus how to put archived Gmail messages back in your inbox to use them just like you did when you first received them.

Where to Find the Archived Messages

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

You can open archived emails on a computer, tablet, or phone through the Gmail menu (the three-lined button on the top-left side of the page). In there, choose All Mail (for computers) or All mail (mobile devices).

All Mail label in Gmail

Emails can still be viewed while archived, but if you plan to continue the conversation, we suggest moving them back to the inbox.

Gmail move to inbox option

On a computer, select the message that you wish to retrieve, and then choose Move to Inbox from the toolbar. Find the option on the mobile Gmail app by tapping the message and opening the menu button on the top right of the screen.

Tips to Avoid Accidental Archiving

It's fairly easy to slip up and accidentally archive a message. Fortunately, 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 from 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  • Keep your eyes open for any confirmation messages stating that a conversation has been archived.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.