I need to find a message I sent to someone via Gmail about six months ago and am having no luck with search patterns. How do I just search my sent messages mailbox in Google Mail?
Like most things Google, the unadorned search box at the top of your Gmail window hides a remarkably sophisticated search language that can make your task considerably easier. I’ve written before about power Gmail searches, but this time I want to show you how to use the built-in search builder wizard (yeah, a Windows term. You know what I mean) to construct the sophisticated search you seek.
For this example, I’m going to build a search for messages that contain the word “butterfly”, are in my sent messages folder and were sent within the last two months from my Gmail account.
To start, have a close look at the search bar itself:
Look really closely, actually. See that tiny grey triangle pointing downward, just to the left of the magnifying lens?
Yeah. That’s it. Click on it and prepare to be surprised:
Who knew that Gmail had this handy search wizard?
With this you can fine tune your search and it’ll actually build the search query needed, so you even get to learn how to just type things in directly next time.
Let’s look more closely, first at the “All Mail” menu, which, upon clicking, reveals all your Gmail folders:
I have a lot of keywords / tags / mailboxes / folders (whatever word you want to use to describe it).
Pick the one you want to search, like “Sent Mail”, then look near the bottom where it says “Date within…”
I’m going to be searching for messages that contain “butterfly” (a word I type into the “Has the words” box) within my “Sent Mail” folder that were sent within the last two months, so I’ll pick “2 months”.
Click the blue magnifying lens search button and the search is created and appears in the search bar:
Ah, so that’s the secret. “is:sent” gets just messages you sent, “after:year/month/day” and “before:year/month/day” define a date range, and, of course, “butterfly” is the word to be sought in the matching messages.
Ready to actually do the search? Click on the blue search button and away it goes.
Now you know. Hope that helps you unearth that diamond in the vast coal mine of your Gmail account.