How to better search emails in Gmail

As
of late I've been running into problems locating the emails I am looking for.
Before I was able to type a keyword or two and I could easily find the emails I
was searching, but now the amount of similar emails has made search a more cumbersome
task. 

Gmail
offers advanced search features that allow users to more easily find the emails
they are looking for. I particularly use a lot the search feature that allows searching
all emails with an attachment.

As
users begin to have gigabytes worth of emails in their mailboxes easy searches
won't do the trick any more. Hopefully Google will begin developing a search
method that weights many factors and displays relevant search results (sort of
like their web search). 

Here
is a list of advanced search operators available for Gmail for a quick easy
reference: (obtained from the Gmail's
support site
)

Operator Definition Example(s)
from: Used to specify the sender Example – from:amy
Meaning – Messages from Amy
to: Used to specify a recipient 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
– 
(hyphen)
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*
*There isn't a search operator for unlabeled messages
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"

has:attachment
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 – list:[email protected] 
Meaning – Messages with the words [email protected] 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

" "
(quotes)

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 Trash are excluded from searches by default
Example – in:anywhere movie 
Meaning – Messages in All MailSpam, and Trash that contain the word "movie"
in:inbox
in:trash
in:spam
Search for messages in InboxTrash, or Spam Example – in:trash from:amy
Meaning – Messages from Amy that are in Trash
is:starred
is:unread
is:read
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
cc:
bcc:
Used to specify recipients in the cc: 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
after:
before:
Search for messages sent during a certain period of time*
*Dates must be in yyyy/mm/dd format.
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.
is:chat Search for chat messages Example – is:chat monkey
Meaning – Any chat message including the word "monkey".

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