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I was trying to mark an email as "Important" in Gmail and accidentally archived it.

Now I cannot locate it, since there is no "archive" label anywhere.

How do I get it back?

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Checking mail on my phone I have archived mails that I didn't even notice. I have no idea how to search for them. The Archived mail should be labeled with an Archive label so I could always go look at those specific emails and deal with them which could include restoring them or deleting them. Otherwise the Archive label is just a "loose" label and should not exist. Ridiculous that you can store something in a database "somewhere" and have no way to find it. I do know that one of the 2-3 emails I archived by accident was important but I have no idea what it was. – user31856 Jan 13 '13 at 18:58
Over 120k views of this question! Seems like Gmail could use a "recent changes" feature (like you find on web sites or wiki pages). That would allow one to locate messages in such cases. Archiving an "old" message leads to trouble since it won't appear at the top of the All Mail list. However, it would appear at the top of a "recent changes" list. – Fuhrmanator Mar 1 '13 at 16:00

Click on All Mail on the left. When you see the message, open it, and choose the Move to Inbox option to "un-archive" it.

Alternatively, you can use the search feature to locate the message (the search box should be towards the top of the Gmail page).

For more details visit Gmail Help.

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Just to add, the 'All Mail' system label on the left is not visible by default. To show it, click on the cog button on the top right > Settings > Labels > Show (next to the All Mail system label). – w3dk Aug 7 '12 at 8:52
Tip: Typing in:all in the Gmail search box will take you directly to the "All Mail" view / system label. – Rubén Aug 25 '15 at 16:27

If you want to search for more than one archived email, entering the following into the search bar will list all your previously archived emails:

has:nouserlabels -in:Sent -in:Chat -in:Draft -in:Inbox
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What does the has:nouserlabels do for this query? – Maarten Bodewes Aug 19 '14 at 12:41
@owlstead It's been a long time, so I can't remember exactly, but I believe custom folders are/were represented by user added labels. – IQAndreas Oct 14 '14 at 4:08
If a conversation/message with user label, like those assigned by filters, was archived it will not be included in the results. Instead use in:all with or without the other search terms.` – Rubén Aug 25 '15 at 16:29

Just search for -label:inbox.

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That will still include sent emails and drafts. The following search should leave only archived emails: has:nouserlabels -in:Sent -in:Chat -in:Draft -in:Inbox – IQAndreas May 5 '13 at 7:16
The comment by Andrew Maiman is valid in response to the original question of how to retrieve a single, recent item. However, to the larger question of "how do I retrieve many emails processed over time when I don't know exactly what's in them", I think this answer by @IQAndreas is the best answer in this thread. I'd upvote it if we could upvote comments. I won't upvote the comment to "Just search for -label:inbox" because it's incomplete, though to-the-letter of the OP it's also accurate. – TonyG Nov 13 '13 at 20:13
@TonyG I'll just have to add it as an answer then ;) webapps.stackexchange.com/a/51918/39545 – IQAndreas Nov 13 '13 at 21:00
Hope I don't get beat over the head for an OT comment but I just upvoted your Answer. AND I just noticed for the first time that we CAN mouse before a comment and click a hidden check for "this comment adds something useful to the post". Never stop learning. – TonyG Nov 15 '13 at 8:52

An archived email is just an email with the inbox label removed. Search for it, or open a label that it should be in, then click on move to inbox.

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In addition to the other answers that show how to find your answer again, you can always get it back immediately after archiving it by clicking "Undo" in the message that appears just after the action:

enter image description here

I have used this "undo" feature many times. Also works for deleted messages.

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Archiving an email is just a solution to hide so many emails from Inbox. You can anytime view these emails on label "All Mails" shown on left panel on gmail.

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And how is this different than this answer? – Al E. Dec 17 '12 at 17:50

If you can remember who is the sender or his mail id or part of his name, try to search with this information in the search box on the top of the page.

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