Gmail search to fight email backlog

August 9, 2015

I was unwell the past few days and last night I caught fever. The impact, I got a considerable email backlog. That’s something I hate. I prefer my inbox to be clean and clutter-free. For that reason I use filters in Gmail. There are some emails I would not want to attend everyday, if not every hour. I read certain filtered messages only during weekends. Gmail filters help me achieve this by organizing messages right from arrival, skipping the inbox.

However, if I do not attend my email for a few days, there is a backlog in pretty much all the folders. When I look at those, most of the time, I could fall sick again. Usually, I’d read an email, reply (if I need to) and attend to any other replies afterwards. Even if I get several emails per day it is not an issue since I know the topic and I have participated in the discussion from the beginning. When I have a backlog, I could read one email, then the next is about something else, then something different with several replies and it goes on. That’s what causes the headache. I guess to solve this, some wise people have invented the “conversation view” in Gmail. For some other reasons though, I do not like it.

Therefore for people like me, who have disabled the conversation view but still got to attend a backlog of messages, Gmail search operators come to rescue.

I looked in the folder containing emails from the Mauritius Internet Users discussion list and this particular discussion about OTAM and ICT in Mauritius seemed interesting. Hence, I could simply trigger a search with subject:otam and get all the related emails listed. I just go through starting from the oldest email. That helps to better follow the conversation.

Gmail search filter

Other handy search operators are in:unread (to filter unread emails in the inbox), from: (no explanation needed here), has:attachment (can be used in combination with from), filename: (to look for a particular attachment) etc. A full list of Gmail search operators can be found at the Gmail help section.