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In Gmail, the inbox view only contains mail which has not been archived. I'm looking for a particular conversation I had with someone a while ago to find a quote, but I can't remember the exact topic or person I was emailing. I know it has been archived but I cannot find a way of viewing only archived email—it appears I have to browse through many months of All Mail in order to find that particular conversation.

Is there a more effective way of viewing only archived mail?

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up vote 16 down vote accepted

Inbox is a label.

Search for -label:inbox

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Cheers, I had tried label:-inbox which didn't work but I had not tried it that way. Interestingly this doesn't filter out conversations where I sent mail but it still has a label of inbox - -label:inbox -label:sent mail gives me only archived mail though. – nobody Jul 2 '10 at 15:25

If you search for the following, only the archived emails should show up in the list:

-in:Sent -in:Chat -in:Draft -in:Inbox

As dzilbers pointed out, if you have "group messages by conversation" enabled in your settings, some emails with those labels may still show up in the results if one of the messages in the conversation is archived. You will still have the "Move to Inbox" option for those results, which will un-archive any archived emails in the conversation.

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This worked beautifully for getting only archived mail as asked for. (The accepted answer is only a half answer). – Robbie Oct 20 '13 at 23:08
has:nouserlabels didn't for for me, using the search you suggested I got messages that had labels – Daniel Serodio Dec 10 '13 at 13:22
@DanielSerodio Another person figured out why those "labeled" messages were still showing up in the inbox, so I added in the information to answer. – IQAndreas Dec 21 '13 at 3:21
It is possible to have archived messages that have labels. So has:nouserlabels is filtering more messages than it should. The answer is close though, -in:sent -in:chat -in:draft -in:inbox should do the trick. – htellez Aug 7 '15 at 6:20
@htellez I can't remember why has:nouserlabels was there; I believe custom folders used to be represented by user added labels, but that seems to have changed. I have removed that part from the answer; thanks for the heads up! – IQAndreas Aug 7 '15 at 6:32

To view only the Archived emails in your Gmail, do this:

  1. Click on All Mail from the left (If you can't see the All Mail, goto your Gmail Settings → Labels tab → click “Show” next to “All Mail” and save your setting.)
  2. From your All Mail list, you can see Inbox label in front of the email—these are emails in your Inbox folder. If you've archived an email the Inbox label will be removed, which indicates it could be in Archived/Sent Items/Notes. Obviously, the email you archived won't be in Notes or Sent Items if you checked that earlier, therefore if you look at the email it has to be the one in the Archive.
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