Saturday, 4 October 2008

HOWTO: use the "label:" query word to search in Gmail

how to use the "label:" query word to search for Multi-Labeled messages
as well as Un-Labeled messages. Thanks to "rishid" on the GmailForums
for submitting this tip...

Say you want to find messages that have multiple Labels. For example,
you want to display all messages with label1, label2 and label3 that
you had previously defined and assigned. Into the basic search field at
the top of any Gmail page, you would enter label:label1 label:label2

Note that this is searching for all messages that have label1 AND
label2 AND label3. If you want to include messages that have ANY of
those labels, you can use the "OR" command like this: label:label1 OR
label:label2 OR label:label3 (Note: "OR" must be in uppercase.)

You can optionally add a "-" to the query words to exclude search
criteria. For example, entering -label:label1 label:label2 label:label3
would return all messages that have label 2 AND label 3, but do not
have a label1 Label.

Taking this concept a step further, you can use this method to search
for all "Un-Labeled" messages. Unfortunatly, Gmail does not provide a
choice in the search dropdown that lets you search for unlabeled
messages. If you manage a large number of messages, it can be very
cumbersome to determine which messages are unlabeled. My personal
preference is to ensure that all messages have a Label making it easier
to manage and organize them.

So, if you want to list all unlabeled messages, just create a long
search string containing every label that you have defined. Be sure to
include the "-" character in front of every label. This ensures that
messages with these labels will be EXCLUDED (remember, you are looking
for all messages WITHOUT Labels.) You can also optionally include the
hidden "inbox" Label to exclude anything in your Inbox.

For example, if you have defined the Labels "Family", "Friends",
"Ebay", and "Support", you would enter the following string into the
search field (note that the labels are not case sensitive) to find all
Unlabeled messaegs:

-label:inbox -label:family -label:friends -label:ebay -label:support

If you have a large number of labels, obviously, this becomes harder
and harder to manage, so I recommend reating a "note" email to yourself
containing the search string for easy future reference.

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