How to do Advanced Gmail Searches using Gmail Search Operators

Today, I want to talk to you about doing advanced searches in Google Gmail and using Gmail’s search operators. Last week we demonstrated how to do filters and labels and thought we could go more in depth and do more advanced stuff on how to do searches in Google Gmail.

Searching inside Gmail

Gmail search is incredibly powerful and you could save yourself a lot of time by using some of these commands. Traditionally people would organize their files using folders and in Gmail that translates to Labels. There’s no need to to rely on Labels that much once you get used to the search and you get to further improve a lot on how to manage your day and find your important email very quickly.

When doing a search, your previous searches show up when you type anything at the search bar.  This can be very helpful if you do certain searches repeatedly.  Google will also predict what you are typing to make it quicker.

For a more thorough knowledge of all possible search operators, you can refer to this Google documentation which covers the Google Gmail Search operators.

Basic Gmail Search Operators

Below are some of the common search operators. A few things to remember when using the Gmail Search Operators:

  • The syntax is typically a command followed (like “from”) followed by a colon : and the search term or value. For example from:denise
  • Certain operations like AND, OR and AROUND need to be in all capitals, so that they can be understood as operators and not as another regular word to be searched.
  • For AND and OR operators you can use the alternate syntax which is:
    • square brackets for the AND operator [ ]
    • curly brackets for the OR operator { }
  • Combining the operands produce the best results!

AND Operator [ ]

This will return all emails that have the words typed in the search bar will have to be contained in the results. It will return results that have all of the words mentioned. This is the default setting of the search when you place in search words without any operator

The below 3 searches are all the exact same but just use different syntax.

google cloud invoice

[google cloud invoice]

google AND cloud AND invoice

OR Operator { }

This will return any emails that have the words typed in the search bar. The search results usually grow larger as more words are added

The below 2 searches are all the exact same but just use different syntax.

google OR cloud

{google cloud}

Exact Term “ “

When there is a exact term or phrase that you are looking for, just enclose them in quotation marks and this will return searches that have the exact term you are looking for.

e.g. “google cloud on air”

FROM: and TO:, CC: and BCC: Operators

This operator can be used without the all capitals but you have to add a colon to it



You can also use this for the BCC and CC emails likewise

cc: and bcc:

You can also try combining the operands for best results

from: OR to:


This operand allows you to search based on the subject heading of the email

e.g. subject:”request for access”


Advanced Gmail Search Operators

These are some of the more advanced search operators that you can use to further refine your searches.


This operand allows you to search based on the label name:

e.g. label:logs backup has:attachment WHMCS


This operand allows you to look for results that have words that has some words in between them

This example finds emails that has the word google and cloud which has around 3 words in between them.

e.g.  google AROUND 3 cloud


This operand is specially nifty when you are looking for specific attachments. Has:attachment is the more generic and will find emails with any attachment.






This operand is also used for searching attachment names.  You can search for a word that the file might be called like “backup” or for the file extension like “pdf”.




This operand is best used when you’re looking for an attachment, and you have an idea when it was sent. You can search for the file using by deducing the time that the file was sent.





In this example, we are looking for a PDF file that was sent after April 24.

filename:pdf after:2017-04-24


There are also these two based on time older or newer which are a bit easier to use.



In this example we are looking for a file that is newer than 2 days, so that would be files sent from less than 2 days ago.

filename:pdf newer_than:2d


When searching for a specific information that can be found in one of your email labels or chats, using this operand combined with other operands can be one of the best ways to look for your important files

In:chats – searching in chat conversation history

In:inbox – searching in your inbox

In:trash – searching in your trash

In this example, the search will return snippets of your chat conversation that has both the words cloud and solutions.

Cloud solutions in: chats


This operand will be used when you are looking for emails that have a certain byte size. This is useful when you want to check which emails have very large attachments and check if you still need them in your inbox



This operand returns emails/attachments that have a larger or smallerbyte size than specified byte size

filename:pdf larger:1mb newer_than:14d