If you’ve ever tried to search through 300 (or egads – 3000+) GMail emails, then you know how challenging the “never delete” idea is. Sorting is not really part of the GMail world (there is some sorting, but it rather limited). I usually build the search in the search box (similar to oldschool command line searching). (If you prefer to use an easy guided search tool, skip to the bottom of this post)

A typical search for me would look something like
drupal -buzz from:georgiawebgurl@gmail.com after:2011/5/25 before:2011/09/1 in:anywhere

Here are some of the search operators that I find useful:

  •  From searches who sent it to you
  • To searches who you sent it to
  • ” “ (quotes) putting a phrase in quotes will search the whole phrase
  • –  excludes word (I use -buzz to always exclude my G Buzz posts)
  • Date range after:2011/5/25 before:2011/6/9 (Dates in yyyy/mm/dd format.)
  • in: is used to specify location (in:trash in:inbox in:spam in:anywhere) – in:anywhere is everything 
  • label: used to search by your labels
  • a full list of search operators is listed here 

SO, drupal after:2009/5/25 before:2010/1/1 -buzz , pulls up all of my email from May 25 2009 – January 1, 2010 that is about drupal excluding any Google buzz posts.

If you don’t know the operator, it is hard to figure out what to put there. There is help for that, though. One of the most easily overlooked links in the GMail interface is the search options link. It will help you build the search you need.