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How to use the Gmail archive feature to organize your inbox

  • Archiving an email on Gmail removes it from your inbox, but you can still access it via search or “All mail.”
  • You can also unarchive emails if you want to put them back into your inbox.
  • Gmail also lets you set up “Archive and send” so you don’t have to keep archiving conversations.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

If you’re looking for a way to clean up your Gmail inbox, archiving could be the way to go. 

Archiving a message moves it out of your main inbox, but keeps it accessible. So it’s a good option if you want to clean up your inbox without deleting everything and starting from scratch. 

Setting up auto-archiving can help keep future conversations from clogging up your inbox. You can always unarchive emails, and if someone replies to an archived message, it will show up in your unread messages again. 

Here’s what you should know about the archive feature in Gmail.

How to archive an email in Gmail

The method you’ll use will depend on your device.

On desktop

1. Go to Gmail and log in to your account, if needed.

2. Hover over the message you want to archive.

3. Click the Archive icon, which looks like a box with a down arrow, and appears to the right of the email’s sender information and description.

Hover over the email to reveal the archive button.
Devon Delfino

On iPhone or iPad

1. Open the Gmail app and log in, if necessary.

2. Either tap to open the message or tap to select the sender’s profile image. If you’re selecting the email profile image, you can select multiple profile images to archive all selected messages at once.

Tap the profile icon on the left to select an email to archive.
Devon Delfino

3. Select the Archive icon at the top of the screen.

Tap the “Archive” button at the top to archive the email.
Devon Delfino

On Android

1. Open the Gmail app and sign in, if needed.

2. Open the message you want to archive, or select multiple messages if you want to archive more than one.

3. Tap the Archive icon.

How to find archived emails on desktop

Once a message is archived, you can find it either via the All Mail folder or using the search bar.

Using the ‘All Mail’ folder

1. Hover your cursor over the left edge of the Gmail window. A sidebar will expand.

2. Click All mail from within that sidebar. If you don’t see that, click More and then scroll down to All mail.

Open “All mail” to see your emails, including archived ones.
Devon Delfino

3. Any archived messages, as well as other non-deleted emails, will appear there.

Using the search bar

Unfortunately, you can’t simply search for the Archive label in the search bar to find those emails. 

1. If you know keywords for the email you’re looking for — for example, the topic, sender, or subject of the message — type those into the search bar and hit Enter.

2. If not, type “-in:Sent -in:Draft -in:Inbox” -has:nouserlabels” (with the quotes) into the search bar and hit Enter. This essentially brings up your All mail inbox.

This search command will show all emails in your inbox, including archived ones.
Devon Delfino

3. Go through the results to find the email in question.

How to find archived emails on the mobile app

These processes are the same regardless of whether you’re using an iPhone or an Android.

Using the ‘All Mail’ folder

1. Open your Gmail app and log in to your account, if needed.

2. Tap the three-line icon, located in the top-left corner of the screen.

3. Select All mail.

Choose “All mail” to see everything in one place, including archived emails.
Devon Delfino

Using the search bar

1. Open the Gmail app.

2. Tap the search bar at the top of the screen and enter your keywords.

Search keywords, like the sender name or subject, to find your archived email.
Devon Delfino

How to unarchive emails in Gmail

If you decide you don’t want an email to be archived anymore, you have the option to unarchive it.

On desktop

1. Open Gmail on your Mac or PC.

2. Scroll to and click on the All Mail category on the left side.

3. Scroll or search to find the email you wish to unarchive.

4. Once you’ve found it, right-click the email and select Move to inbox.

Choose “Move to inbox” to unarchive messages.
Devon Delfino

On the mobile app

1. Open the Gmail app on your iPhone or Android device.

2. Tap the three-line icon in the upper-left corner of the screen.

3. Scroll down until you find the All mail tab. Tap to open.

4. Scroll or search for the message you wish to unarchive. Tap to open once you’ve located it.

5. Tap the three-dot icon in the upper-right corner.

6. Select Move to Inbox.

Tapping “Move to Inbox” puts the email back in your regular inbox.
Devon Delfino

How to automatically archive emails in Gmail

You can set up emails to archive automatically when you hit send.

1. Open Gmail and log in, if you necessary. 

2. Click the gear icon on the top-right side of the screen.

3. Select See all settings.

Clicking “See all settings” will bring you to the settings section of Gmail.
Devon Delfino

4. Under General, find the Send and Archive section. 

The “Send and Archive” section allows you to turn the auto-archive option on or off.
Devon Delfino

5. Select Show “Send & Archive” button in reply.

6. Scroll down and click Save changes.