Using Advanced Gmail Search To Find What You Need

A lot of people use their email as a ginormous repository of information. If you’re one of them you’ll be glad to know that Gmail’s advanced search operators can make it easier for you to find what you’re looking for.

When you have a huge inbox, simply searching basic keywords in the Gmail search isn’t always very helpful. Here are a few tips to help you zero in on exactly what you want.

Let’s say you’re looking for an email that you sent to John with a file attached.You’ll find it quickly using this search: has:attachment

Or maybe you’re looking for all emails from May with .zip files attached.

in:anywhere has:attachment filename:zip before:2016/06/1 after:2016/4/30

Even if you don’t want to remember any of these operators, you can still tap into the power of advanced search by clicking the down arrow in the Gmail search box to access a more user-friendly search form.


Here is a list of helpful Gmail search terms from Google.

Operator Definition Examples
from: Used to specify the sender Example: from:amy
Meaning: Messages from Amy
to: Used to specify a recipient, including “cc:” and “bcc:” fields Example: to:david
Meaning: All messages that were sent to David (by you or someone else)
subject: Search for words in the subject line Example: subject:dinner
Meaning: Messages that have the word “dinner” in the subject
OR Search for messages matching term A or term B*
*OR must be in all caps
Example: from:amy OR from:david
Meaning: Messages from Amy or from David

Used to exclude messages from your search Example: dinner -movie
Meaning: Messages that contain the word “dinner” but do not contain the word “movie”
label: Search for messages by label Example: from:amy label:friends
Meaning: Messages from Amy that have the label “friends”Example: from:david label:my-family
Meaning: Messages from David that have the label “My Family”
Search for messages with an attachment Example: from:david has:attachment
Meaning: Messages from David that have an attachment
list: Search for messages on mailing lists Example:
Meaning: Messages with the words in the headers, sent to or from this list
filename: Search for an attachment by name or type Example: filename:physicshomework.txt
Meaning: Messages with an attachment named “physicshomework.txt”Example: label:work filename:pdf
Meaning: Messages labeled “work” that also have a PDF file as an attachment
” “
Used to search for an exact phrase*
*Capitalization isn’t taken into consideration
Example: “i’m feeling lucky”
Meaning: Messages containing the phrase “i’m feeling lucky” or “I’m feeling lucky”Example: subject:”dinner and a movie”
Meaning: Messages containing the phrase “dinner and a movie” in the subject
( ) Used to group words
Used to specify terms that shouldn’t be excluded
Example: from:amy (dinner OR movie)
Meaning: Messages from Amy that contain either the word “dinner” or the word “movie”Example: subject:(dinner movie)
Meaning: Messages in which the subject contains both the word “dinner” and the word “movie”
in:anywhere Search for messages anywhere in Gmail*
*Messages in Spam and Trashare excluded from searches by default
Example: in:anywhere movie
Meaning: Messages in All Mail, Spam, andTrash that contain the word “movie”
Search for messages in Inbox,Trash, or Spam Example: in:trash from:amy
Meaning: Messages from Amy that are inTrash
Search within messages thatPriority Inbox considers important. Example: is:important from:janet
Meaning: Messages from Janet that were marked as important by Priority Inbox
Search for messages that are starred, unread, or read Example: is:read is:starred from:David
Meaning: Messages from David that have been read and are marked with a star
Search for messages with a particular star Example: has:purple-star from:David
Meaning: Messages from David that are marked with a purple star
Used to specify recipients in thecc: or bcc: fields*
*Search on bcc: cannot retrieve messages on which you were blind carbon copied
Example: cc:david
Meaning: Messages that were cc-ed to David
Search for messages sent or received during a certain period of time
(using the date format yyyy/mm/dd)
Example: after:2004/04/16 before:2004/04/18
Meaning: Messages sent between April 16, 2004 and April 18, 2004.*
*More precisely: Messages sent after 12:00 AM (or 00:00) April 16, 2004 and before April 18, 2004.
Similar to older and newer, but allows relative dates using d, m, and y for day, month, and year Example: newer_than:2d
Meaning: Finds messages sent within the last two days.
is:chat Search for chat messages Example: is:chat monkey
Meaning: Any chat message including the word “monkey.”
deliveredto: Search for messages within a particular email address in the Delivered-To line of the message header Example:
Meaning: Any message with in the Delivered-To: field of the message header (which can help you find messages forwarded from another account or ones sent to an alias).
circle: Search for messages that were sent from someone who you added to a particular Google+ circle Example: circle:friends
Meaning: Any message that was sent by a person in your “Friends” circle.Examples: circle:”soccer friends (team blue)” or circle:”my \”fab four\””
Notes: For circle names that include a space, parentheses, curly brackets, or vertical bar, add quotes around the name. For names that include quotes, add a back slash immediately before the quotes.
has:circle Search for all messages that were sent from someone who you added to your Google+ circles Example: has:circle
Meaning: Any message that was sent by a person in any of your circles.
category: Search for messages within a category Example: category:updates
Meaning: All messages in the Updates category.Example: category:social Mindy
Meaning: Messages in the Social category that include “Mindy.”
size: Search for messages larger than the specified size in bytes Example: size:1000000
Meaning: All messages larger than 1MB (1,000,000 bytes) in size.
Similar to size: but allows abbreviations for numbers Example: larger:10M
Meaning: All messages of at least 10M bytes (10,000,000 bytes) in size.
(plus sign)
Match the search term exactly Example: +unicorn
Meaning: Finds messages containing “unicorn” but not “unicorns” or “unciorn”
rfc822msgid: Find a message by the message-id header
Meaning: Locates the exact message with the specified SMTP message-id. Learn more about headers.
Search for messages that have and have not had labels that you created applied to them.
NOTE: Gmail applies labels to individual messages, not to conversation threads.
Example: has:nouserlabels
Meaning: Finds all messages without any of your own labels (excludes automatic labels like inbox, spam, and trash). Since Gmail applies labels to individual messages, you might see results that appear to have labels; in this case, another message in the same conversation thread has had a label applied to it.

Stay Safe With LastPass Auto-Change

No doubt, you know that you’re supposed to change your passwords every so often to keep them secure. Nobody I know EVER does this. Maybe we’re all lazy, but the mere thought of changing the bazillion passwords I have makes my head hurt!!!

Enter the LastPass Auto-change passwords feature.



How It Works

For LastPass, click on the extension icon in your browser and select My LastPass Vault from the drop-down menu. Choose the account you’d like to change and select the wrench icon. Then in the pop-up window that appears, select Auto Change Password and the process begins.

Granted, it doesn’t work with every website out there, but automating password updates many of the popular sites you use probably makes it worthwhile.

If you’re not using LastPass already, grab the Chrome extension and let Lastpass generate secure passwords for you anytime you need one.

Managing Passwords in Chrome

If you use Google Chrome as your web browser (and you should) you probably know that it can save your usernames and passwords for sites that you visit. But did you also know that Chrome can sync these passwords across all your devices?

Imagine you’ve created an account on your computer at work but want to sign-in from home or even from your smartphone while you’re out and about. This is definitely easiest if you’re using the Chrome browser and signing in with your Google account on all your devices.  Fortunately, you can access all your information from any browser simply by visiting



Just sign-in with your Google account, to access a list of all the accounts and passwords you’ve used in Chrome.

You can display the passwords by clicking the eye icon or remove any of the entries aren’t able to change your existing passwords. (You’ll have to visit the associate website to do that.)

If you don’t want your passwords stored in the Google Passwords site, you have two options. Don’t save your passwords in Chrome at all or make them unavailable from the Google website.

  1. Open Chrome and go to Settings – Advanced Sync Settings.
    ( Or enter chrome://settings/syncSetup in the address bar )
  2. Under the Encryption Options, choose “Encrypt all synced data with your own sync passphrase”, enter a passphrase and save the settings.

Disable Google Passwords

Shortly afterwards your passwords will not be accessible via the Google Passwords site. You can always change your mind revert back to the default settings..

Rock Your Docs With these Google Docs Tricks

Over the past few years, I’ve shifted almost all of my document creation tasks from Word to Google Docs. Mainly for the sharing and collaboration features and the fact that I can access my documents from anywhere.

At first, I really missed some of the ‘power’ features of Word but now that I’ve found some of these great tricks in Google Docs I’m a  pretty happy camper.

1. Templates

This is something most people don’t realize is in Google Docs. Sometimes I forget myself. Fortunately, a recent update puts these right at the top of the page when you get into Google Docs.


2. Automatic Table of Contents

Just like Word, Docs has styles (Heading 1, Heading 2, etc) which allows you to do several cool, time-saving things including automatically generating a table of content.

If you’ve already applied styles, it couldn’t be any easier. Go to Insert » Table of Contents.


3. Document Navigation

If you’re navigating longer documents, head over and grab the “Table of Contents” add-in  and you’ll get an automatic navigation sidebar.  (Not to be confused with the TOC we made above. ) You can get this and other useful add-ons via the Add-ons menu.


Easier Pit Stops With Google Maps

Do you ever need to make stops along your route for things like gas , food, coffee or restaurants? Of course, you do! Now you can easily search for gas stations, grocery stores, coffee shops, etc in Google Maps  while still in navigation mode, and add them as a detour on the way to your final destination.

To access this new feature make sure you’ve got the latest update, then:

  1. Tap on a magnifying glass icon that appears at the top-right corner of the screen in navigation mode.
  2. From there, a drop-down menu will appear offering several options, including gas stations, restaurants, grocery stores, and coffee shops. You can also “search for more places” if you’re looking for other businesses or addresses.

You can also do this with the voice command by tapping on the microphone button.

This may not seem like much, but if you’ve ever actually tried doing this you’ll appreciate how much nicer it is now. Plus, in the next “few weeks” Google says they’ll add the ability to check gas prices at the stations you find along your way.

#417 Use Simple Forms to Collect Information the Easy Way

There are a lot of us who at one point or another need to collect information from a number of different people. Traditionally, you send out an email asking for the information you want. Then the ‘fun’ begins…a flood of email replies overwhelm your inbox…at some point you have to take a trip to the copy & paste rodeo so you can consolidate everyone’s answers into a single place so you can make sense of it all.  It is painful and time consuming.

Today, I’ll tell you how you can say good bye to those overloaded inboxes and the copy & paste-apalooza and make the whole process quick and painless. The secret is to use a web form that will automatically collect all the responses for you in a nice, neat spreadsheet. Once you’ve setup your questions all you have to do is sit back and watch the data roll in, while sipping a nice, warm cup of coffee (or whatever drink you prefer). Easy peezy – here are a couple nice, free options.

These online survey tools let other people fill out a form—like a sign-up sheet or questionnaire—where you can see it all in one place online. You can create a survey, send everyone a link and all the responses are compiled for you, automatically in an online spreadsheet.

Google Docs Form

1. Go to Google Drive at

2. In the new Drive, click New in the top left, hover over More, and choose Google Forms.

( In the older version of Drive, click the Create button in the top left, then Form.)

In the form template that opens, you can add any questions you’d like. You can also organize your form by adding headers and dividing your form into several pages. Learn more about editing your form.

One of my favorite things about Google forms is that you can set it to notify you when people respond.  Choose Tools – > Notification Rules and select the option that says Notify me when “a user submits a form.” You can also set how frequently you would like to be notified – if you have created a “Contact Me” form, the “email right away” may be a good choice but for mass polls and surveys,  the daily digest option might be a better choice.

See it in action and take this sample form for a test drive


Excel Online

You’ll need a free Microsoft One Drive account

1. Sign-in to One Drive

2. Near the top of the screen, click Create, and then click Excel survey. You’ll get a form that walks you through creating your survey.


3. Anytime you want to work with your survey to edit or share it, just click the Survey button on the ribbon.


See it in action and take a sample Excel form for a test drive


#412 Tap Into the Power of Chrome’s Address Bar

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably never given much thought to your browsers address bar beyond entering a URL and going to a website.  If you use Google Chrome as your web browser, there are a lot more things you can do with your humble address bar (also known as the Omnibox in Chrome). Let’s take a look at some of the things you’ve been missing.

Quick Math & Conversions

Need a little math or unit conversion help on the quick? Just use the address bar for the job. Enter a calculation and get the answer without even needing to hit the enter key. How is that for fast!? You can also get basic unit conversions this way. Just add an equal sign after your query. Give it a try with something like this:  50 c = f for temperatures, or 50 feet = inches

Use Google Search Operators

We’ve previously covered how useful the Google Search Operators are before. You can use them directly in your address bar and skip the need to actually visit


Create a Quick Email

Type mailto: into your address bar and you’ll get a new blank email ready for you to complete and send in whatever your default email client is.

If you’re a Google Chrome user, give those a try. If you’re not, go download Chrome and see what you’re missing.

More Chrome Tips & Tricks:

If you’re looking for even more tips & tricks for working in Google Chrome you might also be interested in:

How to Save & Restore Multiple Tabs in Chrome

How to Print Wirelessly to Any Printer with Chrome & Cloud Print

How To Get Instant Answers From Google

#398 Do You Know How to Get Instant Answers From Google?

If you’ve been following these tips for very long you probably know How to be a better Googler by using some of the advanced search options.

But you may not have known about the super nifty instant answer tricks. If not, today is your day to find out about a few of them.

1. Time Zone

If  you ever need to know what time it is in another city, just type in time and the city to get the current time there.

Google Time Zone

2. Weather

This one is similar to the time zone trick. You can check the weather anywhere by just entering the city and weather.

Google Weather

3. Calculator

Use Google as a calculator – type in a calculation and Google give you the answer. When you use Google to do a calculation, you’ll get a handy calculator interface with some pretty advanced capability.


4. Dictionary Definitions

Seems like I’m always looking up definitions and Google makes that super fast and easy. Just type in define and the word you want to look up.

Google Define


5. Unit Conversions

Google can also do conversions for a wide variety of units. Just type a search in the form X unit to unit. For example, 40 degrees f to c converts 40 degrees Fahrenheit to Celsius or 5 kilometers to miles.

Google Conversion

There are a lot more things you can do with Google’s Instant Answers including:

  • finding your IP address
  • currency conversions
  • find the time for today’s sunrise or sunset
  • flight tracking
  • flight schedules
  • package tracking
  • movie schedules
  • stock information
  • and all kinds of data

Check them out over at How To Geek.

#395 Free Unlimited Photo Backup With Google+

Not too long ago I was talking with someone who had a hard drive crash and lost all their family photos. And my first thought was that could happen to anyone including myself. So I went straight home and looked for the fastest, easiest, least expensive way I could find to backup all 60,000+ of our family photos. Fortunately I didn’t have to look for long. We use Picasa to manage all our photos and one of the first things I learned was that Google will give you unlimited storage space for your photos*.

*If you’re signed up for Google+, photos up to 2048×2048 pixels and videos up to 15 minutes long won’t count towards this free storage limit. And Google will automatically resize photos for you when you upload them to Google+, so they stay under the free size limit.

If you’re looking for a simple, easy to use setup for managing your photos that also gives you free, unlimited backups get Picasa and sync your photos to Google+

When you first install Picasa it will scan your computer for any photos you have and organize them for you.  To make a backup of your photos go to the Tools menu and select Batch Upload…

Then on the next screen you can select which picture folders you want to upload to Google Plus. Choose your preferences and you’re off! Super easy backups!

If you already use another program to manage your photos or just don’t want to mess with Picasa for any reason you can still upload all your photos to Google Plus. Check out this complete guide to Google Plus photos or this one from Google for all the nitty gritty details.

And don’t forget your smartphone photos! Another really handy thing Google+ can do is automatically backup the photos from your smartphone.  If you’ve ever run out of storage space and had to manually move your photos off your phone you’ll really love this. Just install the iOS or Android app and login with your Google+ credentials. Then follow the steps for your device below to enable Auto-Backup of your photos. Set it and forget it.

#352 Google Docs Table of Contents

For longer documents a table of content is a great way to help your readers find exactly what they are looking for.  It puts a list of links at the beginning of your document that point to different sections of that document. Clicking the right link instantly transports you to the exact place in the document you want to be.  Once you’ve created your table of contents, you can easily update its links as you edit each section of your document.

Previously, we’ve seen how to do this in Word and it works much the same way in Google Docs.

To make a table of contents, you need to mark each section of your document with a heading. To do this, highlight the appropriate text, and then select a heading size from the style menu in the toolbar.

To revert a heading to normal text, simply select the Normal option from the same drop down menu; doing so will also remove that link in the table of contents after you update the table of contents.

After you’ve marked each section with a heading, you can then add a table of contents from the Insert menu. ( Insert » Table of contents )

As you update your document, you can easily update the table of contents by clicking the Update now button in the top right of the table of contents.
And that’s how easy it is to create a table of contents in Google Docs!