How to Access Archived Gmail Emails

How to Access Archived Gmail Emails

Wondering where your archived emails are? Looking for an email you know you had and know you did not delete? Find out here how to access archived Gmail emails (in a browser on your desktop, in the Gmail apps on any mobile device, or in an email program accessing Gmail, of course).

First, He Read, He Inquired, and He Believed

Says Edward Gibbon in one of his famous footnotes about Jean Froissart, whose Chronicles about the Hundred Years’ War between Britain and France he incorporated with gusto into The Decline and Fall:

“I should not complain of the labor of this work, if my materials were always […] books as the chronicles of honest Froissard, who read little, inquired much, and believed all.”

Now, want to inquire not only into email currently in your inbox but archived Gmail as well? Read just a little more on this page; believe me!

How to Access Archived Gmail Emails (Desktop, Mobile and App)

View Only Archived Gmail Emails

Time needed: 1 minute.

To access all archived emails in Gmail (and only archived messages):

  1. Open Gmail in a browser or the Gmail apps for Android and iOS.

  2. Click or tap Search mail.

    Gmail keyboard shortcut: You can also press / to focus the Gmail search field.

  3. Type -label:inbox -label:draft -label:sent -label:chats.

    Gmail bookmarklet: As a shortcut, open https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#search/-label%3Ainbox+-label%3Adraft+-label%3Asent+-label%3Achats in your browser.
    View Archived Gmail emails in the Gmail App

  4. Press Enter or tap Search.

Looking for file archives and ZIP files inside emails? How to find archives in Gmail.

View All (Including Archived) Gmail Emails

To quickly view archived Gmail emails together with those still your inbox:

  1. Open Gmail.
  2. Go to the All Mail label.
    Gmail keyboard shortcut: Press ga to open the All Mail folder quickly.
    No “All Mail”: If you do not see the All Mail label or folder in Gmail’s left navigation panel, click More in that panel. You can drag and drop the All Mail label to the top of the labels list to permanently unhide it.

You can also access archived Gmail messages by searching for them, of course:

  1. Click Search mail or press /.
  2. Type an email address or terms for which you want to view archived emails.
    Note: Gmail will automatically include all archived emails in search results.
    Tip: To limit results to only archived emails, add -label:inbox to the search terms (or -label:inbox -label:draft -label:sent -label:chats for even stricter results).
    Example: Type older_than:3y -label:inbox to view all archived Gmail emails older than three years, for instance. Type any email address or message content to find the corresponding emails in the Gmail archive.
  3. Press Enter.

How to Access All (Including Archived) Gmail Emails Using an Email Program

To access, view and find archived Gmail emails if you connect to your account via IMAP using an email program:

  1. Make sure the All Mail label is set to be visible in IMAP.
  2. Open the [Gmail]/All Mail folder in your email program.
    All Mail folder missing: Some email programs list this folder under a different name, typically “Archive” or “All Mail”.
  3. Find in this folder all received emails including those archived in Gmail.
    Not seeing all archived emails: You can limit Gmail to only show a certain number of emails in IMAP per folder using the IMAP Folder Size Limit; this also applies to the [Gmail]/All Mail folder.

How to Access Archived Gmail Emails: FAQ

Can I restore emails to the inbox after I have found them in the Gmail archive?

Yes, you can unarchive Gmail emails in a few simple steps, no matter how you access your account.

Where is the Gmail archive in the Gmail App?

To see all mail quickly in the Gmail app:

  1. Swipe in from the left or tap the Gmail hamburger menu button.
  2. Select All mail from the list of labels and folders.

To see only archived email, use search in the Gmail app. (See above.)

How can I retrieve archived email in Gmail?

To download archived emails to your email program, it is typically best to

As an alternative, you can disable and re-enable POP access to your Gmail account to retrieve all messages—including archived Gmail emails—from your account. Note that this can take weeks to complete, as Gmail serves only a limited number of messages for download through POP at a time.

Finally, you can also download your entire archive of Gmail messages in one fell swoop in the MBOX format.

(How to access archived Gmail emails tested with a desktop browser, the Gmail app for iOS and an IMAP email program; updated June 2022)

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