A few Simple and Powerful Gmail Inbox Search Queries

Gmail recently opened up the ability to write and run search queries with inbox search. This post will help you learn a few simple queries to search your inbox with razor like precision, effortlessly sort tons of unread email or pull up past email conversations in an instant.

I recommend trying these queries out for your self to understand how they work, click here to open your inbox in a new window.

#1. Your coworker sent you a presentation in the recent work-week and since then it has been buried beneath fresh email. Simply search for emails from john@doe.net with an attachment as follows:

from:john@doe.net has:attachment

This will pull up only those emails from John with an attachment to help you narrow down your view.

#2. You’ve been getting daily website reports and you’ve put off reviewing some of them for until later. You recall that the subject line had your website sukshma.net in it. We create this search query with the qualifier for the subject line ‘subject:’ and a label for unread email as follows,

subject:sukshma.net label:unread

This will pull up all unread emails with sukshma.net in the subject line allowing you to finish your review and save the day.

#3. You’d like to mark all conversations from any one of several associates you are working with as important, or perhaps file them under a custom gmail label.

from:{partner1@void.net partner2@void.net}

The curly braces here help group the addresses together and tells gmail that either address is a good match. Learn more about how this technique works here. You could also use the more explicit way of writing the same query if you find this easier –

from:partner1@void.net OR partner2@void.net.

#4. You want to see all emails addressed directly to you that also mentions your customer mycustomer. Do it as follows,

to:jane@void.net mycustomer

You can use the same idea with the qualifiers ‘cc’, or ‘bcc’.

This version will also work and is easier,

to:me mycustomer

#5. If you’ve not used labels extensively, your email folders – such as inbox, sent mail, unread, favorites, important are all essentially a label. To view all your drafts, type the query out as follows:

label:drafts

While this one might save you just a click, it’s valuable if you’ve been auto-filtering or categorizing your incoming emails under custom labels such as “discounts” or “event invitations”.

#6. No list would be complete without learning how to negate conditions. Let’s say I’d like to see all unread email and not include automated mailing list clutter. If I’ve setup a gmail filter to auto-tag mailing list notifications to the label “mailing list”, then by adding the ‘-‘ sign I can exclude all emails that have been tagged ‘mailing-list’ as follows,

label:unread -label:mailing-list

What you’ll get is all your unread email without the clutter.

This is it for now, do leave me a comment if you are looking for help with gmail queries and I’ll get back as soon as I can. Try your hand at more queries here. For an exhaustive list of search filters, try this link on about.com.

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GMail offers personalized e-mail addresses

How masquerading works: An interesting development in the e-mail space on GMail. You can now masquerade your @gmail.com address with any other address that you own. For example, before today, I could send e-mail from my RIT computer science department account (cs.rit.edu), but have the From line read from @sukshma.net. Similarly, I can masquerade my gmail.com address. This is a neat feature for those who own a domain but don’t want to have to pay a hosting company to host the mail server. GMail will now do the hosting for you for free.

Setup your own domain with a personalized e-mail address: There are many benefits of setting up a personalized e-mail address. When building a business network, engineer at professional dot com sounds better than engineer at gmail dot com.

All you need to do is, purchase a domain that you like and you think will represent you accurately. Next, setup mail forwarding from that domain to your Gmail account. You have just ensured that all mail sent to engineer at professional dot com will be directed to your GMail account. The next step is to login to your GMail account, hit Settings > Accounts > Add another e-mail address. Follow the steps to verify that you indeed own engineer at professional dot com. You should now be able to send e-mail from your GMail web interface with your professional address. If your a Pop3 or IMAP user, your e-mail client should also allow you to masquerade your account when sending email.

Finally, GMail provides a huge amount of space as compared to any other provider. That alone ought to convince you

Masquerading and security: When every engineer reads up on SMTP, the first thing you learn is how simple it is to send e-mail over the Internet by faking the sender. Most phishing attempts rely on this detail to con users into believing an e-mail is from a recognized authority.

However, some mail transfer agents (MTA’s) on the Internet have safeguards to prevent masquerading. For example, some MTA’s will verify that the e-mail originates from @professional.com. E-mail sent from your GMail account will fail to pass this litmus test, since the masqueraded e-mail originated from a GMail.com server (and not professional dot com). Note that this is in theory and I have not had the opportunity to test it out yet.

GMail requires you to prove that you do indeed own the address your attempting to add. This safeguard proves that sufficient thought went into designing this feature. It will be interesting to see how they solve the issue with strict MTA’s.

Conclusion: An obvious requirement is to match signatures for every address. Maybe in the near future you could even expect GMail suck in all your e-mail from your original mail host.

E-mail clients have been doing this ever since I can remember. Masquerading is nothing new. However, GMails impact on Internet businesses is definitely huge.