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I want to find the first message that a specific person sent me, but I don't know when that was - except that it was ages ago. I know I can use the search operator from:janedoe but the result is listed in reverse chronological order and the page indicator says 1-20 of hundreds.

Do I have to click "next page" fifty times, or is there another way to find out?

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Don't you hate it when companies try to be smart and clever for you, leaving you feeling like an idiot for not being able to figure it out on your own? (I know I do!) –  jp2code Jan 12 '13 at 22:15

3 Answers 3

up vote 16 down vote accepted

If you click "1-20 of [...]" you will see options to jump to the Newest or Oldest. The Oldest option isn't available if Gmail is still calculating the results so you may need to wait until the query finishes processing. Wait some time and hit the Older button to update the menu.

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+1: Nice! So that's where the Newest/Oldest links disappeared to... –  JW8 Sep 1 '11 at 21:17
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Confirmed! It's totally not visible that the counter numbers are clickable - how unusual to see such poor UI design from Google. But now we know :-) –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Sep 12 '11 at 12:21

You can also run an advanced search for the specific person (in the From: field) and look at the last entry in the search results, assuming that you're looking for a message from a specific email address. Gmail displays its results in reverse chronological order by default.

Update

Found a workaround. It's a bit involved, but works. This solution takes advantage of Gmail labels, which currently still show the total number of emails that have been associated with each label.

  1. Create a new filter that adds a label to all emails from the desired email (should be a new label)
  2. Access the new label by clicking on Gmail's left hand menu area. URL should look something like https://mail.google.com/mail/?shva=1#label/facebook
  3. Note the number of emails available for this label
  4. Assuming that your Gmail is set up to show 100 emails per page, let n = (# of emails)/100 and update your URL to show the n+1th page, e.g. https://mail.google.com/mail/?shva=1#label/facebook/p38 for a label with 3738 emails/messages
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I thought so too, but when I have hundreds of results, it's not trivial to get to the last entry. This is where before: comes in handy. Am I missing something in your answer? –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Sep 1 '11 at 19:07
    
Sorry, I remembered that Gmail used to have options to go the Newest and Oldest messages. Looks like that's not there any more. –  JW8 Sep 1 '11 at 19:14
    
You're right! That used to be there, and I also didn't notice that it's gone. That would've solved my problem in an instant. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Sep 1 '11 at 20:04
    
Found a nifty workaround - just tried it out. Hope this solution works out better for you. –  JW8 Sep 1 '11 at 20:22
    
Wow! I'll give you a +1 for a working solution, but it's kind of a lot of work to do if you only need it once. Still, good job! –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Sep 1 '11 at 20:26

I just realized that I can narrow down the search results with more search operators.

Specifically, the before:1999/01/01 is very useful for this! I can set progressively older dates to reduce the results until I see what I need.

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The "Oldest" link doesn't seem to work for some kind of filters. For example on a search of is:sent after:2013/08/01 before:2013/09/02 ! I see this! –  velocitybrush Nov 24 '13 at 8:36

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