All Articles
How to find emails from last week (locating old emails in Gmail)

How to find emails from last week (locating old emails in Gmail)

min read

Is your Gmail inbox a mess of ongoing and archived threads from people you hardly know? Then you’re not alone. Sometimes, the search bar just isn’t enough, so what do you do if you want to find emails from last week, last month, or even last year?

Gmail comes with several handy features to help you wrangle your email conversations and find the threads you’re looking for. Follow these methods to better keep up with your connections and improve your inbox navigation skills.

Why would you need access to old emails?

Email isn’t like a chat window. It’s a long-term method of communication. How many times have you resumed a conversation a week or two later? Email threads enable you to effortlessly jump in and out of conversations without the more urgent pressure people feel to reply to text messages or phone calls.

Here are some of the reasons why you might be trying to find old emails:

  • Networking: Businesses often have a mix of active and inactive Gmail contacts. For example, 70% of businesses acquired new leads at trade shows in 2022, and knowing how to access these cold leads is vital for salespeople who want to re-engage them.
  • Reminders: Have you ever scheduled a call so far in the future with a prospective client that when the time comes to connect, you can hardly remember who they are or why you’re meeting? Reviewing older email threads can provide a refresher on the client and the point of your meeting.
  • Dispute resolution: It’s not uncommon for confusion to arise when planning your next project. Old emails provide evidence to help resolve misunderstandings.
  • Email address updates: Some of your clients may use a new email address now, but they didn’t when you first met. Knowing how to find emails between the two of you when they were using their old email address is essential.
  • Legal compliance: Did you know that emails may contain information that needs to be preserved to comply with data security and protection regulations? For example, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) mandates that certain information is kept safe for years.

Countless reasons exist for needing quick access to old conversations. If someone starts a message with “per my previous email,” knowing where to find that email can get you back on track.

Luckily, Gmail simplifies the process of hunting down past communications.

How to find old emails in your Gmail account

Gmail boasts 1.8 billion users worldwide, making it the undisputed leader among email platforms. This is because it’s one of the most intuitive email solutions on the planet.

However, new users might now know how to unearth those older messages. So, what are the different ways to find old emails in your Gmail account?

Search Gmail by date range

Using the Search Gmail by date function ensures you can find messages from a specific date range without the clutter. This can help if you don’t remember the sender’s specific address or only have an estimate of when you received the email.

On mobile

  1. Search the Gmail app by date range by tapping the search bar at the top of your Gmail app.
  2. Type before: into the search bar.
  3. Add your before date using this date format: MM/DD/YYYY.
  4. Type after: and enter the date for the other side of the date range.
  5. Tap search, and you’ll see all emails you received within this range.

Note that with mobile and desktop, you can also type a specific email address after the “before” side of your date range to bring up only emails sent by a particular contact.

On desktop

  1. Click the Filter icon in the search bar at the top of your screen.
  2. Go to Date within.
  3. Set your date criteria. In the example below, I’ve searched for emails received within two months of April 19, 2024.
  4. Click Search.
a screenshot of a mail inbox ith the drop down menu in the search bar displayed

If you already have some information, refine your search by adding the name, address, or subject line within the To:, From:, or Has the Words fields. If you don’t have that information, no worries: You can always select All Mail to search your entire inbox.

How to find old messages with the Gmail search bar

The Gmail search bar is the easiest way to uncover older messages. In addition to using it to search Gmail by date, you can also use various filters to change your search. This is ideal if you can only remember pieces of information about the message.

On mobile

  1. Tap the search bar at the top of your Gmail mobile app.
  2. Enter your desired filters. For example, type unread: to limit your search to unread emails.
  3. Click the Search button.

On desktop

  1. Click the search bar at the top of the screen.
  2. Click the Filter icon at the right of the search bar to open up different options and filters.
  3. Customize which filters and dates you’d like to use.
  4. Click Search.

Search Gmail by sender

Searching your Gmail inbox by sender is often the easiest way of getting back to the conversation you’re looking for. The process follows a similar thread regardless of the device you’re using:

  1. Click into the search bar.
  2. Type an email address, or the start of one. A dropdown will show you which emails match up. Click on the address you want.
  3. Click Search to bring up all conversations that include that email address.
  4. If you want to drill down further into your emails, you can type from:[insert email address] or to:[insert email address] to see emails you’ve received and sent to that specific contact.
a screenshot of the Gmail inox showing how to search Gmail by sender

Pro tip: You can use this same process to search the body content of emails by typing the word or phrase you want into the search bar, or by typing subject:[WORD] if you remember something from the email’s subject line.

Likewise, you can combine these filters for more targeted searches.

Find old Gmail emails in deleted messages

Sometimes, ordinary searches won’t bring up the results you want. Your Gmail inbox isn’t broken; instead, you may have deleted the message by accident. In this case, you’ve got 30 days before your trash box automatically deletes the message.

So, how do you find old Gmail messages that have been deleted?

On mobile

  1. Click the ≡ button in the top-left corner of the Gmail mobile app.
  2. Tap Trash to open up your deleted messages. Note: You may need to scroll down to find this folder. These messages have been deleted from your inbox but haven’t been permanently deleted.
  3. Perform your search in the same way as you would in your usual inbox.
  4. Tap a message you want to open.
  5. Click the ⋮ button in the top-right and select Move To.
  6. Select a new destination, such as your primary inbox, for your deleted message.

On desktop

  1. Go to your Gmail inbox and click Trash from the left-hand menu.
  2. Click the search bar and perform your search like in your regular inbox.
  3. Open a message.
  4. Click the Move to icon. Note: It looks like an arrow pointing to the right, just below the search bar.
  5. Click Inbox from the dropdown menu to restore your deleted message.

Note: The filters and search options in your inbox are the same as those in your Trash folder.

Manage your emails more effectively with Streak

Gmail’s search features are one reason people around the world lean on it for their emailing needs. But what if there was an easier way to regain control of your contacts, threads, and email groups?

Good news: There is with Streak, the tool that makes navigating any Gmail inbox a breeze. Join more than 750,000 users who already trust our handy features to control their inboxes with link tracking, sorting, and filtering in one centralized location.

Try Streak for free now.

It only takes 30 seconds or less to set up.

FAQs about locating old emails in Gmail

Can you search Gmail by date?

Yes, you can search Gmail by date using your desktop or the Gmail mobile app. No limits exist on how far back you can look. Google will retain any emails in your inbox from day one of creating your account, so feel free to search as far back as needed.

However, emails you already moved to your Trash folder have a 30-day expiration date attached to them. If these messages aren’t restored within the 30-day limit, they’ll be permanently deleted from Google’s servers.

How do I find an email from a month ago?

Emails from a month ago can be found without endless Gmail app scrolling. Here’s how to find emails using a one-month range:

  1. Open up your search bar.
  2. Enter before:[DATE FROM ONE MONTH AGO].
  3. Enter after:[DATE FROM TWO MONTHS AGO].
  4. Click Search.

Using this method will bring up every email from at least one month ago, but no longer than two months ago. You can also add other search terms to narrow your search between the dates added.

Can you search Gmail by keyword?

Searching Gmail by keyword is as simple as typing your desired keyword into the search bar. This will bring up every email from your inbox with your chosen keyword.

Unless you’ve got an uncommon keyword, we wouldn’t recommend this because you’ll have too many results. Instead, you can add filters, such as subject: and from: to narrow your search.

Why can’t I find my emails from my old Gmail account?

You may have tried several methods to find an email but come up with nothing. This could mean one of two things:

  1. You’ve misremembered the information you’re looking for.
  2. You deleted the email you’re looking for.

In the first scenario, your only option is to keep searching. This could take a while, but there’s a chance you’ll eventually find it. In the second case, there’s no way to restore emails deleted more than 30 days ago, as they’ve been permanently deleted from Google’s servers.

We're hiring

Come build something great with us.