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How to find unread emails in Gmail

How to find unread emails in Gmail

min read

Managing your emails in Gmail can be a hassle, especially if you receive a lot of messages each day. If you have a busy schedule, unread emails can quickly pile up, even if you intend to read them later.

If you’ve ever let your inbox fill way up and struggled to find certain unread messages, hopefully this blog post will help you breathe a little easier because Gmail offers several ways to sort through unread messages and organize your emails more strategically. 

Read on to learn how to find unread emails in Gmail and better optimize your inbox. 

<a href="#set-up-inbox" class="anchor-link">Set up an inbox that separates unread and read emails</a>

<a href="#search-bar" class="anchor-link">Use the search bar to filter for unread emails</a>

<a href="#create-filter" class="anchor-link">Create a Gmail filter or label</a>

<a href="#find-unread-mobile" class="anchor-link">How to find unread emails on iOS and Android mobile devices</a>

<a href="#consider-streak" class="anchor-link">Have you considered Streak for easier Gmail management?</a>

<a href="#faqs" class="anchor-link">FAQs</a>

  • <a href="#filter-unread" class="anchor-link">How do I filter Gmail by unread emails?</a>
  • <a href="#cant-find-unread" class="anchor-link">Why can’t I find unread emails in Gmail?</a>
  • <a href="#mark-read" class="anchor-link">How do I mark all unread emails as read?</a>
  • <a href="#delete-unread" class="anchor-link">How can I delete all unread emails?</a>

To get started, here’s a look at how to find unread emails in Gmail:

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Set up an inbox that separates unread and read emails

A screenshot of a Gmail inbox with a separate inbox for unread emails

You can filter all unread messages by setting up your inbox to prioritize — and set apart — any unread emails in your list of messages. 

With this view, you’d really have to try to lose any unread emails. If you toggle on this view in your settings (more on that in a moment!), your inbox will be rearranged to have unread messages appear first, with read emails displayed underneath based on the date they were received. 

Note: If you’re not quite ready for this kind of separation yet, know that Gmail’s Mark as unread option is always available for emails that you read, but want to be sure you revisit by marking them as unopened.

Think separating your inbox into “Unread” and “Everything else” would be helpful to you? Here’s how to finesse your settings to get this view:

Step-by-step: How to organize your Gmail inbox by read and unread emails

  1. Launch your preferred internet browser, and open Gmail.
  2. Sign in if you need to.
  3. Click the Settings button, a gear icon in the top right corner.
  4. Select See all settings.
  5. Click to the Inbox tab. 
  6. Scroll to the Inbox type row, and change it to Unread first.
  7. Hit Save changes.
A screenshot of the Inbox tab in the Gmail Settings showing how to separate and organize the unread emails from everything else

<div class="anchor-wrapper"><div id="search-bar" class="anchor-target"></div></div>

Use the search bar to filter for unread emails

Adjusting your settings isn’t the only way to see all of your unread emails in one spot. You can also use the search bar on Gmail to filter out your unread messages. As long as you remember who sent the email you’re searching for, or the keywords in the subject line, you can type “is:unread,” followed by some details, and the email you’re looking for should appear.

A screenshot of the Gmail search bar filtering the unread emails

Many people will add the sender or other keywords after “is:unread” to narrow their results. To really dig deep, you can click on the three-slider icon on the upper right-hand side of your search bar and open Gmail’s Advanced Search. With an advanced search, you can pick from several search criteria, such as a search by date or whether or not an email has attachments. 

<div class="anchor-wrapper"><div id="create-filter" class="anchor-target"></div></div>

Create a Gmail filter or label

You can also filter your emails by using Gmail labels, which is Gmail’s version of folders, to group emails easily and keep them better organized. If, for example, you regularly receive analytics reports from Google, and you want to keep them to read later, you can select these emails as soon as they reach your inbox and drag them to a Reports label in your sidebar — or you can just create a filter (which is a rule) that knows to send those analytics reports to the Reports label.

Whenever you’re ready to access those unread report emails, you simply click on the Reports label to see all of those emails gathered as though by magic. To further filter for unread messages within a label, click the label and select the toggle box that says “Unread.”

<div class="anchor-wrapper"><div id="find-unread-mobile" class="anchor-target"></div></div>

How to find unread emails on iOS and Android mobile devices

A screenshot showing the Gmail menu with unread email notification in mobile device

If you’re wondering how to find unread emails in Gmail when using an Android or iOS device, you can add a tab to display just unread messages. 

Step-by-step: How to find unread emails in the Gmail mobile app on Android and iOS

  1. Open the Gmail app.
  2. Tap the hamburger menu in the upper left-hand corner of the screen.
  3. If you don’t already have a priority inbox set up for unread emails, scroll down to Settings, and tap to open. Otherwise, skip to step 6.
  4. On iOS: Scroll down, then select Inbox type.
A screenshot of the Settings inside the Inbox type section in Gmail in an iOs

     5. On Android: Select your email account. Then, tap Inbox type.

      6. On the Inbox type screen, select Unread first, then Done.

A screenshot of the Settings inside the Inbox type section in Gmail in an Android with the Unread First section selected

    7. Tap the hamburger menu located in the upper left-hand corner of the search field.

    8. Tap Unread from the list to access all of your unread messages in Gmail.

A screenshot of the left side menu of Gmail showing the unread emails inbox

<div class="anchor-wrapper"><div id="consider-streak" class="anchor-target"></div></div>

Have you considered Streak for easier Gmail management?

Learning how to find unread emails in Gmail and organize them well is just the beginning of inbox excellence. If you’re looking to up your game even further, you need Streak. Streak is a Chrome extension for Gmail that can show you exactly when (and where in the world) every email you send is read using Streak email tracking.

Streak University thumbnail for the tutorial about Email Tracking

Email tracking isn’t all Streak does, though. You can:

So, what are you waiting for? Try Streak for free today. Don’t worry; it only takes 30 seconds to set up.

<div class="anchor-wrapper"><div id="faqs" class="anchor-target"></div></div>


<div class="anchor-wrapper"><div id="filter-unread" class="anchor-target"></div></div>

How do I filter Gmail by unread emails?

Just click the Unread Mail filter located on the upper left-hand portion of your screen. If you want to select all unread emails, click Select > Select All. You can also sort your unread messages by Newest on Top or Oldest on Top.

<div class="anchor-wrapper"><div id="cant-find-unread" class="anchor-target"></div></div>

Why can’t I find unread emails in Gmail? 

There are usually three main reasons why you can’t find your messages in Gmail.

  1. You may have accidentally clicked on an email and marked it read. 
  2. You may have a filter that redirects the email to skip your inbox.
  3. You may have too many emails in your inbox, and the unread message has moved further down the page.

<div class="anchor-wrapper"><div id="mark-read" class="anchor-target"></div></div>

How do I mark all unread emails as read? 

To mark all unread emails as read in Gmail, just use the Gmail Advanced Search bar and type “is:unread.” Select all the messages you find, then click Mark as read

<div class="anchor-wrapper"><div id="delete-unread" class="anchor-target"></div></div>

How can I delete all unread emails? 

To delete all unread emails, select all unread emails from a label or filter, or type “is:unread” into the search bar and click Select all. Then, just click the trash can icon to Delete all selected emails.

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