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Can’t Find Stuff in Gmail? 5 Best Ways to Sort Your Email Inbox

Gmail is a great tool, but it falls short in terms of offering intuitive ways of sorting your inbox.

Fortunately, there are easy workarounds that give you more control over finding messages

Google makes the Chrome browser and Google makes Gmail. Naturally, you have some great Chrome extensions to make your Gmail experience better.

. We’ll go over several of them below.

1. View All Messages From a Recent Sender

There are several tricks that help you see all email received from a particular person.

One works best if you’ve got an email from that individual recently. However, you can use it anytime you’re in your inbox.

Go to your inbox and hover the mouse over the sender’s name on a particular email. It’s on the left side of the subject line. Then, wait for the popup box to appear.

sort gmail inbox

At the bottom of it, you’ll see a gray link that says Emails. Click on it to pull up a complete list of all the messages that person sent you.

Don’t see the desired sender immediately visible in your inbox? No problem. Type the person’s name or email address into the Gmail search box first. It’s at the top of the screen and has a blue magnifying glass button to the right of it. Then, click on any of the messages retrieved by the search. Put your cursor over the name and go through the same process you just learned.

2. View Messages From Any Sender

You can also get results without knowing the person’s name. Refer back to Google’s search bar and notice the small downward-facing triangle on the right-hand side.

Holding your mouse pointer on it displays a box that reads Show Search Options.

sort gmail inbox

After clicking on the triangle, you’ll see a box offering various ways to locate messages.

sort gmail inbox

You can specify parameters to find emails that include or do not have certain words. That option finds them in whole emails, not just the subjects. Filtering the results to only include messages with attachments is another option.

Play around with the capabilities of the search box

Gmail is an ingenious webmail client with many awesome features. Being a Google service, one of its strengths obviously is Search. And this is exactly how Google revolutionized email. In Gmail you don’t really have…

and become familiar with them. There are also ways to find messages that arrived within a number of days from a date. Depend on those features to determine the name of your sender, if it’s someone you don’t know well and whose name you’ve maybe forgotten. Then, use the person’s Emails link to generate a message list.

If you’d prefer not to use the search options, there’s another method to try.

sort gmail inbox

Like Google, Gmail recognizes advanced search operators. Type “to:bob” in the main search bar without including quotation marks. That action finds all emails you sent to people named Bob.

3. Sort Your Messages by Subject

Perhaps you need to find all the emails people have sent you about an upcoming family reunion. Go back to Google’s search bar and bring up the additional search options. One of the boxes allows searching by subject.

As you’ll recall from the previous tips, it’s also possible to use word-based search terms. Get-together, gathering, and event are just some of the things a person might call the occasion. Make sure you don’t miss pertinent emails and enter all potential descriptors. Separate them with commas.

sort gmail inbox

Next, turn your attention to the dropdown list at the top of the additional search options. The default setting searches through all your emails. However, you might feel that’s too broad.

If so, change it to anything you want. The choices include all Gmail’s default folders, as well as any labels you’ve made.

sort gmail inbox

What if someone tells you they sent a message, but you don’t see it in the inbox? Switch the dropdown menu to Spam or Trash. Then, if the email got misinterpreted as junk mail or you deleted it, it’s not lost.

4. Look for Messages With Particular Labels

In the last section, we briefly brought up labels. If you’re not familiar with labels, think of them as folders within Gmail

There are plenty of tricks to deal with email overload, but there’s one right under your nose that you might not be using: good old Gmail labels.

. Well, it’s possible to sort your inbox with them, too. Gmail offers many labeling options.

Apply Labels to Emails

One method involves clicking on any message in the inbox. After selecting it, look at the top of the Gmail interface to see the platforms graphical buttons. Choose the one with the tag-like image. That’s Gmail’s label button. Clicking it brings up a list of all previously made labels.

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You can also label several messages simultaneously by selecting their respective checkboxes (you can also do something similar to delete messages

If your inbox is full and cluttered, you may want to look into deleting old messages in bulk — by using filters that let you pick and choose which emails should be deleted.

Do that just before clicking the label button on the top of Gmail’s interface. You can also label a message after clicking into it instead of from the main inbox.

sort gmail inbox

Sort Emails by Labels

Now that we’ve gone over applying labels, let’s apply that knowledge to email sorting, courtesy of labels.

sort gmail inbox

It’s very easy to do: just click the label tag either in the email itself (shown above) or in the sidebar of your inbox (shown below).

sort gmail inbox

5. Automatically Apply Labels to Sent Messages

As you’ve seen here, applying a label is a fast and straightforward process. However, it’s one more thing to remember while keeping tabs on your inbox. If you’re a perpetually busy person, you might prefer not to take that step.

A free app, with available premium plans, called Gmelius automatically puts labels on sent messages.

sort gmail inbox gmelius

After downloading the app, open its dashboard and find the Productivity tab. Then, look for the Send and add Labels option. Apply that option and reload your inbox. Then, check out the label icon next to the app’s send button. It looks like a small ribbon and indicates you’ve enabled auto-labeling.

To see how Gmelius works
Remove features you don’t like from Gmail, leaving behind only the things you do. Gmelius is a simple extension for Chrome, Firefox and Opera that lets you turn off parts of Gmail you’re not interested…

, send a message through Gmelius. Clicking the send button for an email makes a labeling box appear. Scroll through the list to choose one or use the convenient search box. Then, click the Label and Send option at the bottom.

If you end up giving Gmelius a try, it has several ways to personalize your inbox. They don’t relate to sorting messages but include other helpful possibilities. Since you know how to sort your inbox, why not do even more with this feature-rich app?

Download: Gmelius | Chrome | Safari (Limited free with annual plans starting at $5/mo)

What’s Your Preferred Way to Sort Your Messages?


Email filtering is your best tool in keeping your inbox neat and organized. Here’s how to set up and use email filters in Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and Outlook.

isn’t as straightforward as some users expect.

However, making the tips you’ve just discovered part of your everyday routine isn’t difficult.

Which will you use most? How do you prefer to sort the messages in your Inbox? Tell us in the comments section below.

Chris Velazco

Chris is Engadget's senior mobile editor and moonlights as a professional moment ruiner. His early years were spent taking apart Sega consoles and writing awful fan fiction. That passion for electronics and words would eventually lead him to covering startups of all stripes at TechCrunch. The first phone he ever swooned over was the Nokia 7610, because man, those curves.

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