How to Make Gmail Display Only Unread Email


If you receive dozens of emails every day, you might not have time to skim through every single one. You’ll probably sort out the most important ones and read them first, especially now that Google has the new Priority Inbox feature. Before you know it, the weekend comes along, and you have an inbox stacked full of unread emails, but you don’t feel like going through the trouble of tracking down all of them.

With 280+ unread email messages scattered and mixed in with those you have already read, it can save a lot of time auto-sorting them.  Not to mention that some of the unread email messages are archived by filters while others are stuffed away under their own label. Lucky for us, Gmail has a secret label that will bring all of these to one box.

lots of unread email in gmail

Step 1 – The Secret “Unread” Label

In the search box, type:

label: unread

Then click Search Mail.

All of your unread email items should now be displayed below, even the ones that are not in your inbox. For example, I filter my Twitter messages to go directly to the archive, but they have pulled up anyway with the search since they are unread.

gmail unread email label

Step 2 – Get Specific

You can add an extra label to your search and narrow things down to just your inbox or any other additional label that exists in your Gmail. To do this, add another label: labelname after your initial label: unread. Gmail will now display just the unread emails from the chosen label.

show unread email from a label in gmail

Step 3 – Optional: Add A Quick Link

Quick-links are like mini-bookmarks inside Gmail that you can use to repeat actions quickly or find your favorite emails.

First, visit Gmail Labs and enable Quick Links.

gmail quick links

Now repeat the first two steps, so your mailbox displays only Unread mail. Now on the left-pane below chat, you’ll see Quick Links. Click Add Quick Link and name it Unread Mail or something appropriate along those lines.

create a gmail quick link


Now all unread email messages can be easily sorted and marked as read, deleted, or archived as you deem necessary. I hope you enjoyed this groovy quick-tip.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Mike

    August 29, 2013 at 3:27 am

    I am late to the party of finding this post but big thanks for it. This was exactly what i was looking for.

  2. Liza

    December 27, 2023 at 3:30 am

    Step 1 sorts out my problem a treat. But step 3 sounds even better and sadly I don’t have a Gmail labs option under setting – either on the app or the web-based version. When I search gmail labs, I just get other articles telling me how easy it is to get to Labs by following settings options that are not available to me. So I can do step 1 but I can’t save it as a quick link, which would have been ideal for my very limited patience and my preference for automating as much as possible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


To Top