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How do we search for all our archived messages in Gmail?

Non-archived messages should not be displayed,

Only the archived messages should be shown.

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How do you define simplest? I don't think there's a one-click command for that. –  R.K. Jun 3 '11 at 11:03
Padding out your question with words complaining about the quality standards that SE impose does NOT make your question any better. Asking quality questions will improve the site as a whole and improve your chances of getting a quality answer. –  Barry Jun 3 '11 at 11:21
Out of curiosity, why would you ever want to do that? –  Lohoris Jan 20 '12 at 11:30
@Barry, yes edited. –  Pacerier Mar 2 '13 at 3:47
@Lohoris, to clear archived emails at regular intervals. –  Pacerier Mar 2 '13 at 3:51

3 Answers 3

up vote 17 down vote accepted

In the Gmail search box, type

-label:inbox -label:sent -label:drafts -label:notes

and press enter. That should give you all your archived messages. Once there, select All and then click Select all conversations that match this search to ensure that all messages are selected. Click Delete.

They'd still go the the Trash though so you'd have to empty the Trash as a final step.

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heys good solution. Btw what does the dash in front of label means? I can see label:inbox and -label:inbox do different things but i couldn't see why –  Pacerier Jun 3 '11 at 15:45
The dash is really a "minus" sign. So it means stuff that doesn't have this. It's a general google syntax: google.com/support/websearch/bin/answer.py?answer=136861 –  ford Jun 3 '11 at 16:06
@fizzisist well I must say that that's very user unfriendly –  Pacerier Jan 20 '12 at 14:09
R.K.'s suggestion has a potentially disastrous side effect: If you have emails that have other labels (i.e. "Emails from Mom"), those emails will be selected (and trashed) as well. In addition, when you go to the trash to remove them, they will have all of their custom labels skipped. (I'm sorry, I tried to leave this as a comment but can't find or don't have that option) –  Samophlange Aug 18 '12 at 18:56
I wouldn't call it a side effect. He did ask for a way to find all archived emails. Whether or not it has other labels is irrelevant. It is still archived. At least according to his question. –  R.K. Aug 19 '12 at 3:02

You can also type in:archive in the search box, that will show you all archived message then you can select which you want deleted.

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Sure about that? It's not working for me. All I'm seeing is messages (and docs) with "archive" in the content. –  Al E. Feb 28 '13 at 20:28

Our company's email is hosted by Google Apps, and I asked Google Enterprise Support the same question. They answered that the search syntax for archived messages is:

has:nouserlabels -in:Sent -in:Chat -in:Draft -in:Inbox

Here's the reference documentation for Gmail's search: https://support.google.com/mail/answer/7190?hl=en

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This does not show archived messages that has user labels.... –  Pacerier Dec 18 '13 at 6:11
OT: is has:nouserlabels new? I searched for such a thing ~1 year ago and it wasn't there! Or is it exclusive to Google Apps? edit: I tried, and it works on standard gmail too. Great! –  Lohoris Dec 18 '13 at 10:06

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