Inbox overflowing? Sometimes it helps to show only the unread email messages, so you can more quickly scan through the list and clean out your inbox. The select Unread feature in Gmail just checks the boxes next to the unread messages, but here’s how to show only unread.

Note: of course, this isn’t really news to most serious geeks, but we’re out to help everybody.

Displaying Only Unread Emails in Gmail

Like we were mentioning above, if you use the drop-down and choose “Unread” from the list, all it’s going to do is select the checkboxes next to the unread messages in the list—not that useful for cleaning out your inbox.

Instead, all you need to do is type is: into the search box, and the search suggestions box will pop up and let you select the is:unread from the list—which, of course, you could also type into the box yourself.

And now, you’ll see all the unread messages in your email account.


Since that’s not quite as useful as what we really want, what you’ll want to do is add the label: operator to the search as well—using label:inbox on the end of the search will allow you to filter down to just emails in your inbox.

So there you go, the search that will show you all the unread emails in your inbox:

is:unread label:inbox

Enjoy cleaning out your inbox.

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Lowell is the founder and CEO of How-To Geek. He’s been running the show since creating the site back in 2006. Over the last decade, Lowell has personally written more than 1000 articles which have been viewed by over 250 million people. Prior to starting How-To Geek, Lowell spent 15 years working in IT doing consulting, cybersecurity, database management, and programming work.
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