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Search in Gmail

It can be difficult to browse through hundreds of old emails just to find the one you need. So try searching Gmail instead.


Use the search box

The search box is at the top of your Gmail screen. Simply type the word you're looking for in the search box and click the search icon Search. For example, if you're looking for a message with the word "shopping," type in the word shopping.

Refine your search

If you're having trouble finding the result you want, you can refine your search by clicking the arrow in the search box, and entering your search in the appropriate fields (or use our advanced operators).

Gmail doesn't recognize special search characters like [ ], ( ), &, #, *, and currency symbols. Gmail will also try to search attachments, so your results may show items without the search terms highlighted.

Search suggestions

To help you search faster, Gmail suggests search terms as you begin to type. These search terms are based on information from Gmail, such as messages, contacts, labels, or past searches.

To improve the search suggestions, your Gmail searches will be stored in your Web & App Activity if you have it turned on. You can pause or remove your information at any time. Learn more about Web & App Activity.


You can search for messages that contain one or more words in their contents or in their addresses, subjects, labels, and so on.

Note: When you search for messages, all of the messages in your Gmail account on the web are included (except those labeled Trash or Spam), not just those that you’ve synced to your phone. For this reason, you must be connected to the internet to search for messages in Gmail.

You can also use the advanced search options that are described on the Gmail website.

Search for a message

  1. Open the Gmail app.
  2. At the top right, touch the search icon Search.
  3. Enter your keywords
    Touch one of your previous searches (listed below the search box) to perform that search again.
  4. A conversation list opens, displaying all of the conversations with messages that contain the words you searched for. The words you searched for are displayed in the title bar.

When you open a conversation in a search result list, the word you searched for is highlighted wherever it occurs in the conversation’s messages.

Search history

Words you search for are stored by the device and suggested for later Gmail searches. You can erase these stored words in the General preferences of your Gmail settings.

Vivian is a Gmail expert and the author of this help page. Leave her feedback about this help page.

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