How to Select Multiple Messages Quickly in Gmail

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Discover the fast way to check (and act on) a range of messages in Gmail.

The Keyboard or the Mouse, Which is Faster?

I love how Gmail lets you do just about anything with a keyboard shortcut (and many essential tasks with one single key).

Usually, the keyboard is faster than the mouse. There is one thing, though, that is easier and faster accomplished by using mouse and keyboard in unison: selecting a range of messages in a Gmail folder.

Working together, they let you not only check consecutive messages fast, you can also uncheck such message ranges from existing selections. Then, acting on—say, archiving or deleting—just the right messages is a piece of proverbial .

Select Multiple Messages Quickly in Gmail

To check multiple messages fast in Gmail:

  1. Check the first message in the range with the mouse.
    • ​Click the checkbox in front of the message.
  2. Hold down the Shift key and
  3. check the last message in the desired range with the mouse.

Once the messages are all checked, you can release the Shift key and even select other, nonadjacent messages. Of course, you can also select another range as well and remove individual messages from the selection by clicking their checkboxes again.

Deselecting a range of messages in Gmail works exactly like that, too.

Select Multiple Messages Based on Message Criteria

To select certain emails in the current view based on their attributes fast in Gmail:

  1. Click the downward-pointed triangle (▾) in the Select button in your Gmail's message list toolbar.
    • ​The button sports an empty checkbox ().
  2. Select the criterion based on which you want to select emails:
    • All: check all messages in the current view.
      • You can then also elect to select all messages in the current label or search results for action (including those not visible on the current page).
        • If you do select all messages, note that unchecking any message on the current page—or a range, of course—will also unselect all hidden emails; the new selection will comprise all emails on the current page minus those you unchecked.
      • As an alternative to selecting All from the menu, you can also click the checkbox in the Select button directly.
      • Keyboard shortcut (with Gmail keyboard shortcuts enabled): *a (star followed by 'a').
    • None: deselect all messages.
      • Here, too, clicking the checkbox in the Select button is an alternative; it will be filled with a check mark () if all message are currently selected, and with a minus sign (-) when some emails are checked.
      • Keyboard shortcut: *n.
    • Read: select all emails marked read.
      • Keyboard shortcut: *r.
    • Unread: check all new and unread messages.
      • Keyboard shortcut: *u.
    • Starred: select emails marked with a star (any star will do).
      • Keyboard shortcut: *s.
    • Unstarred: select all messages not highlighted with any star.
      • Keyboard shortcut: *t.

    (Updated March 2016)