How do I find really old emails in Gmail?
You may have lost track of an important email from several years ago. Or perhaps you want to look up something about someone who emailed you long before Google existed. If so, this guide is here to help.
Gmail keeps all of its data online and available through various methods including desktop web browsers, Android devices with Google Play Services, iOS devices running Apple's Mail app, and even some third-party services like Yahoo! Mail. This means if you're looking for an old email, there are plenty of ways to get it without having to resort to searching manually. Here we'll show you just what tools you need to use to find those old emails easily.
We've already covered ways to quickly forward emails, but today we will be focusing specifically on finding specific emails within Gmail. In fact, one of our favorite new features in 2019 was being able to sort emails into different folders based on their age. This lets us search through our inboxes much more efficiently and easily because now we know exactly where to look for things.
Below, we'll walk you through each method, explaining which device works best, as well as any other tips or tricks you should know along the way. We also cover how to download Gmail onto multiple platforms (desktop, iPhone/iPad, and Android) so that you can access your mail wherever you go. So let's jump right in.
How do I search for emails 10 years ago in Gmail?
If you think you might have found an old email from 2010 or earlier, then you can try these steps to locate it:
Click the three dots at the top right corner of the screen.
Select "More" under Settings & Accounts.
Scroll down to "Find and manage missing conversations." Click on it.
On the next page, click "Show only searches marked "on". Now select the year you were trying to look for. For example, selecting 2017 shows me everything sent between January 1st, 2017 and December 31st, 2017.
Now scroll down until you see the name of the person whose account you're checking. That's when you'll begin to type their name in the box below it. Once you hit return, you'll start seeing results appear. Those are likely to be the emails you're looking for.
To narrow down the results further, change the "From:" field to include the exact time period you wanted to search for. For example, typing "2017" in the From field would bring up every email sent during 2017. But changing that to "January 1, 2017 - December 31, 2017", then scrolling down, would give you only emails sent during that particular timeframe. The same goes for the To:, CC:, Subject:, Date:, and Message fields.
Keep doing this until you find the result you're looking for.
Remember, you don't necessarily need to do this step, since many people tend to save copies of their old emails forever. However, if you're still stuck, this process gives you a good starting point.
How do I search for emails older than 10 years in Gmail?
In addition to searching for emails from a certain year, you can also search for ones older than that.
Here are two examples:
Searching for emails older than 10 years: Type "10 years" in the From: field, followed by hitting enter. Then select Search Messages Older Than from the menu bar above. Scroll down until you see 2016 and click Go.
Looking for emails older than 20 years: Enter "20 years" in the From: field, followed by hitting enter. Select "All searches," then choose "Messages Older Than" from the dropdown menu. Again, scroll down until you see 2020 and click Go.
Both options will take you to a list of the most recent emails you received from anyone with an active mailbox. They won't contain anything from ten years ago, though. Instead, they'll contain newer emails sent after 2010.
But if you're wondering how to find out whether someone ever had an email account in another service in the past, such as AOL Instant Messenger, Hotmail, or Facebook, then read our article How to Find Old Email Addresses Using Your Current Email Service.
How far back does Gmail keep emails?
As mentioned previously, Gmail doesn't store emails indefinitely. Instead, it deletes them automatically unless you opt to set a retention policy for yourself. By default, Gmail stores all incoming and outgoing emails for 30 days, although users can adjust this setting via the Manage Storage section.
For instance, you could decide to keep all emails for life, keeping them permanently stored on your server. Or you could simply delete emails after 30 days, which is the standard option most people pick. Some companies offer longer storage periods, while others allow you to specify dates beyond the automatic deletion.
Regardless, this feature makes it easy to clean up your inbox and free up space once you no longer need the file. And if you want to learn how to clear your cache in Chrome, follow our guide to clearing cache in Chrome.
How do I find my Gmail 5 years ago?
There are quite literally hundreds of ways to navigate around your Gmail history. While some of them require advanced skills, others are simple enough for almost everyone. Below, we'll share five of the easiest methods for getting started.
First, open the Gmail website in your browser. Sign in if necessary. Next, click "Settings & Filters" in the upper left hand side of the page.
Next, click "Filters" and then "Create New Filter..."
Once again, sign in if needed. On the next page, make sure you leave the text box blank. Hit Save.
Finally, click OK.
The filter is applied immediately, meaning you won't have to wait for Gmail to refresh. Afterward, you can either click the green arrow beside Sent Items to browse through all your emails, or click Other Folders to switch to viewing your emails in a different folder.
Another great trick involves creating filters to separate your personal emails from work related ones. Just remember to create both types separately. When filtering in this manner, Gmail will label emails from friends or family members as Personal, whereas business-related emails will be labeled Work.
Lastly, you can always use the Advanced Search tab located directly underneath the search button to drill down deeper into your inbox. Simply input keywords related to the information you're seeking, then click Search.
How do I search for old emails in Gmail on Android?
One quick thing to note here is that you must first install Gmail Offline in order to use it offline. Otherwise, your inbox will remain empty and useless when traveling abroad. Follow our instructions here to install Gmail Offline on your smartphone.
Afterwards, launch Gmail Offline by tapping on the three horizontal lines located near the bottom of your screen. At this point, you'll notice that your inbox is filled with files similar to the ones shown above. Tap on one to mark it as saved locally, making it accessible anywhere you travel.
When you come across an item that interests you, tap on the Share button to send it over to your desktop or laptop. There, you can open the file and continue reading it normally. Of course, you can also share it with others using Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, NFC, QR codes, SMS messaging, and more.
If you'd rather avoid downloading entire attachments, you can instead use the built-in clipboard function -- simply highlight whatever part of the document you wish and copy it. Afterward, paste it somewhere else into a Word doc, PDF, Excel spreadsheet, etc., depending on the format of the attachment itself.
Also, if you prefer, you can turn off local caching altogether by going into settings and unchecking the Keep Emails Saved Locally box.
How do I search for old emails in Gmail on iPhone?
Just like on Android phones, you'll need to enable Gmail Offline first. Open the Settings menu and tap on General. Enable Offline Access and scroll down to Show Gmail Offline Menu Item. Finally, tap on Use Gmail Offline and confirm that you agree with the terms and conditions.
It takes less than a minute to complete all of these steps and activate Gmail Offline. Now whenever you're away from a connection, simply pull up the Gmail app and tap on the three vertical bars at the very top of the screen. Choose "Offline Mode" to load your inbox locally.
Using the same methods listed above, you can now search for items in your inbox using the search bar, and save the documents you find. As long as your internet connection isn't spotty, you shouldn't encounter any issues.
How do I search for old emails in Gmail on iPad?
Are there any ways to go back and look at old emails from Gmail? If so, what's the best way to accomplish this? The answer is yes, but it depends on where you want to go with it. For example, if you're looking for past conversations between two people who no longer have access to their accounts, then searching Google may be all you need. But if you just want to get some nostalgia out of it (or maybe clear up a misunderstanding), here are a few tips and tricks to help you make sense of your inbox.
Gmail has been around since 2004 and was originally named "Google Mail," which makes it seem like everyone should know exactly where they put those important messages. Yet even though we've had our Gmail account for more than 10 years now, people still ask us about them every week. So, let's take a look at how to find old emails in Gmail -- whether you're trying to figure out why someone deleted one of your old messages or when you last emailed someone else.
How do I retrieve old emails from Gmail?
If you simply want to browse through your old messages without having to dig too deeply into each one, you don't necessarily need to download anything -- just open Gmail on your browser and start scrolling down the list of recent messages. As you scroll down, click on the little triangle next to the name of the person whose messages appear above yours. This will bring up the full conversation thread for that particular exchange. Clicking again will display another page of messages related to that topic. Keep clicking until you reach the oldest ones or stop where you left off before closing the window.
You'll notice that most of these pages show you everything from the beginning of the conversation to today. To see only yesterday's mail or earlier, use the dropdown menu below the search bar. From there, select the option labeled Yesterday, Week Ago, Month Ago, or Year Ago. Scroll down and continue clicking as necessary until you come across the first email you'd actually like to read. When you're done browsing, hit Back to return to the main screen.
However, if you really want to dive deeper into your archive, you could try downloading the entire history. There are several different options available depending on your device. A desktop PC doesn't require much effort because you can right-click on the folder containing your archives and choose Download All Files as Zip Archive. On Android devices, head over to Settings & Accounts and tap Privacy Controls. Go to My Account and set Up Sync to enable syncing. On iOS, go to Preferences & iCloud & Manage Storage. Tap Use Full Disk Access. Then, follow the instructions listed under How to Download Your Old Emails on iPhone/iPad.
Once downloaded, unzip the file and navigate to its location. In Windows, double-click on the.ZIP file, while Mac users should drag the file onto their system. Once it opens, you'll likely find a bunch of folders within. Most of them contain copies of individual files rather than complete emails. If you're going to view the contents of each file individually, you might as well move on to Step 3. Otherwise, skip ahead to the section titled How Do I Find Older Messages Using Search Tools? to learn how to narrow things down further.
How do I find older emails in Gmail than 2 years?
The easiest way to find older emails in Gmail isn't always obvious. If you want to search for an email from six months ago, it's probably easier to type in the year and month instead of the exact day. However, if you're trying to locate something sent three months ago, typing in June 2016 won't work. Instead, you must include the actual date. Here's how to do both:
Include the year: Type in whatever year you want to search for, followed by the word "in." Example: 2006 in.
Add the month: Add the number of months you want to search for. Examples: January 1st in 2012 means Jan 1, 2012. December 31st in 2015 would mean Dec 31, 2015.
For dates that fall outside the current calendar year, add the year along with the word "of" and the desired date. Example: September 9th, 2010 of 2011 means Sept 9, 2011.
Example searches for March 4th, 2009 of 2010 would yield results starting on Mar 4, 2010.
It gets tricky once you start adding days to the mix. Try these examples:
March 25th, 2014 of 2015 would give you results dating back to March 25, 2015.
April 28th, 2017 of 2018 would yield dates ranging from April 27, 2018, to July 17, 2018.
September 12th, 2008 of 2009 would yield results from August 11, 2009 to November 23, 2009.
Does Gmail keep records of emails sent more than two years ago?
Yes! And depending on what country you live in, the amount of time varies. Some countries retain archived correspondence indefinitely, while others have laws limiting the length of storage. Check with your local government website to determine what rules apply to you.
In the United States, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act requires companies to store customer data for a minimum of 180 days. While this law does allow individuals to request information about themselves stored by third parties, it also limits how many times per year you can do so.
Even if you aren't concerned about whether your mailbox contains anything older than two years, you may still want to know how long Gmail keeps backups of your emails. Depending on your settings, Gmail stores backup copies of your emails for 30, 60, 90, 120, 365, or forever. Note that you can change the setting to whatever you prefer, including deleting backups entirely. Just log into your Gmail profile and go to Settings & General & Advanced Options & Deleted Items Management.
To remove some of your older emails permanently, visit the link in the box below and enter your username and password. Then, click Delete Selected Folders. After confirming your selection, click OK.
How long Gmail keep records?
When asked, Gmail says that it retains all of your emails unless you specifically tell it otherwise. That said, it automatically deletes certain types of messages. Below is a breakdown of the categories of messages that Gmail removes based on your preferences.
Old Email Backup - These are saved versions of your messages you created yourself. Each copy corresponds to a specific version of your email client (e.g., Outlook). They're kept in case you ever run into issues retrieving messages from your original email account.
Drafts - Any drafts, replies, or forwarded messages are removed after seven days.
Spam / Bulk Mail - Spam messages are purged after 24 hours. Bounced messages are deleted immediately.
Unread Messages - Unread messages remain in your inbox for the life of the account.
Deletions - By default, messages marked as spam, junk, or attachments are retained for 30 days. Messages marked as personal are kept indefinitely.
Sent Messages - Sent messages are automatically purged after 15 minutes.
Important Messages - Important messages are kept indefinitely.
Archive - Messages deemed archivable are deleted after five years.
How to View Old Emails in Gmail App [No Longer Available]
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If you're tired of searching through your inbox and finding only new mail, it's time to start looking back at earlier correspondence. If you've ever wondered where all those emails went, then this article is just what you need! We'll look at several different ways to access your old emails from Google's email service -- whether it be via desktop, smartphone, or tablet.
While there isn't one method that will work with every type of device, we'll take a look at some of the most popular options so you know which ones might fit best with your needs. Let's begin!
Why can't I see my older emails in Gmail?
It may seem like common sense, but sometimes even the simplest things can catch us off guard when it comes to our digital lives. There are two main reasons why you may have trouble seeing your older emails in Gmail:
You don't remember sending them. This seems obvious, but if you simply deleted an email without archiving or moving it elsewhere (like into another folder), it could be gone forever. To recover these lost emails, follow these steps:
Open Gmail. Go to Settings & Privacy " Forwarding and POP/IMAP. Click Edit next to the option labeled Archive copies of incoming mail. Now click Options under the section marked Email Notifications & Archived Messages. Under When you receive archived messages, select Never from the dropdown menu. Finally, scroll down until you reach the box titled Automatically archive copies of outgoing messages. Again, choose Never.
The other reason you won't be able to find those old messages is because they were never sent. For example, maybe someone accidentally hit delete instead of move or trash while working on their laptop. Or perhaps you had an account with Gmail before switching over to the free version of the platform. In either case, you should contact the person who sent the message to let them know about any missing correspondence. Hopefully they kept backups somewhere else, but if not, you can always ask Google to help out.
In addition to recovering lost emails, you also want to make sure no one deletes important information. So here's something to keep in mind as well: If you use multiple devices to manage your email accounts, make sure you regularly sync your settings across platforms. Otherwise, you could lose track of your personal data and end up deleting sensitive material. Here's more info on syncing between Android and iOS.
Where did my older Gmail emails go?
Google does offer a few tools designed specifically to help users locate long-lost messages. These include:
Find My Mail - Finds messages based on metadata such as subject line and recipient list. The tool works offline, too, making it perfect for people whose phones aren't connected to Wi-Fi networks.
Archive Search - Searches for specific words within the body of an email.
Message Deletion Log - Lists all recent deletion requests made on Gmail.
These features are great if you'd like to hunt down an individual message that was mistakenly deleted or moved, but they won't give you access to anything beyond recent activity. Plus, they require you to download files onto your own machine first.
A better alternative would be to sign into Gmail using a browser window rather than an app. Once logged in, head to the Advanced Search page and enter the following terms:
Keyword: Deleted OR Message name: Deleted + word(s)
For instance, if you wanted to search for all emails that were deleted since January 1st, 2016, you would write 'Deleted' followed by '2016'. Similarly, if you wanted to search for emails that contained the keyword 'deleting', you would put '+' after both keywords. Keep in mind that you must add quotation marks around each keyword term. Also note that advanced searches cannot be saved. They're meant to be used once and discarded.
To save yourself some frustration, try creating folders before beginning a search. Then, whenever you finish, empty them completely. That way, you won't waste time trying to sort through everything later.
How do I get Gmail to show all emails?
Gmail offers many handy ways to organize your inbox. One simple trick involves setting up filters. Filters allow you to set parameters so that certain types of messages appear automatically.
Here's how it works: Say you want to read all your newsletters, but don't want spam to clog up your daily digest. Instead of having to sift through tons of junk, create a filter called No Spam. Whenever you open the Gmail interface, the messages that match that criteria will appear.
Similarly, you can create rules for sorting messages. For instance, one rule could say that all messages containing the phrase "Hello" also contain "world." Those messages would appear at the top of your inbox.
Another useful feature is Priority Inbox. With this feature enabled, all messages matching a particular label will automatically populate the frontmost pane of your Gmail screen. As soon as you open the tab, all relevant messages will pop up instantly.
Why can't I find old emails in Gmail?
One problem with searching for older messages is that Gmail doesn't actually store past communications unless you manually request it. However, you can still dig deep into your archives through various methods.
First, you can use the Advanced Search function described above to comb through years worth of messages. But if you prefer a simpler approach, you can always use the Web History feature. Simply visit www.google.com/history. From there, you can search for any specific URL. Just copy and paste the link into the search bar below to pull up results dating back five years ago.
Next, consider turning on the Backup Assistant feature found inside Gmail Labs. This allows you to backup selected items directly from your inbox, saving them to your Drive account. You can then restore them anytime. And finally, if you'd like to browse even further back in history, you can turn to third party apps that integrate with Gmail. Some of the best include:
TailoredMail - TailoredMail lets you scan through thousands of emails per day by searching your entire inbox. The program includes a variety of helpful functions including filtering and tagging.
Nestor - Nestor is a Chrome extension that gives you full access to your Gmail inbox, allowing you to search for keywords, send links, and quickly share text.
Evernote - Evernote is a web-based productivity suite that integrates seamlessly with Gmail. Users can use the app to attach documents, images, PDFs, videos, audio recordings, etc., straight from the inbox itself.
Other services that work with Gmail include Microsoft Outlook, iCloud, Dropbox, Box, Wunderlist, Trello, Slack, Twitter, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Skype, Telegram, Viber, Signal, and Snapchat.
Finally, if you want to look at your older conversations from a specific user, you can log into his profile and click on Conversations. Alternatively, you can also create custom labels and assign them to contacts. Afterward, you can easily find the old messages by browsing through the labels.
Why can't I find an old email address in Gmail?
Sometimes, it becomes difficult to recall the exact details of an event that took place months ago. Maybe it involved a friend, co-worker, family member, or ex-lover. Regardless of the relationship, it's often challenging to rewind time and retrieve key bits of information. Luckily, you can use Gmail to help jog your memory.
To access previous correspondences, you have a couple of different options. First, you can use the Advanced Search feature outlined previously. Next, you can install a third party app known as Remember the Milk. Using this app, you can schedule reminders to remind you of events from days prior. You can also take advantage of Gmail's Inbox Shortcuts. By adding shortcuts to frequently visited sites, you can launch them right away.
But if neither of these solutions suit your fancy, you can always perform a manual search. To do this, open a new Gmail tab, navigate to the site or webpage you wish to revisit, and copy its URL. Paste the copied code into the search field below:
Keyword: Deleted OR Message name: Deleted + word(s).
Keep in mind that this technique relies heavily upon accuracy. While it's possible to identify a website using a partial string, it's much harder to pinpoint exactly where and when an item appeared online. Still, it's usually enough to narrow down the possibilities.