Web Applications Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for power users of web applications. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I'd like to clean up my Gmail inbox and want to search for messages from people who are not in my contacts.

Ideally it would be something like:


but is:contact isn't an actual advanced search operator/value.

share|improve this question

migrated from superuser.com May 14 '12 at 13:23

This question came from our site for computer enthusiasts and power users.

It's not the most efficient way, but you get results.

Export your Gmail contacts into a .csv
Extract the names from the .csv (with Google Docs)
Create a massive filter with all the names
from: -(name1 OR name2 OR name3)

This last step will probably be best done with a string/file manipulation macro/script. If you'd like to try it, I can write one in AutoHotKey.

share|improve this answer
Do filters have a real or practical limit? I've got hundreds of contacts. – Al E. May 14 '12 at 17:56
I've found vague answers indicating ~1500 characters. You may have to perform multiple filters. For example, filter out your closest friends and put the mail into a different folder, then take out mailing lists, etc. – Ampersand May 14 '12 at 18:31

I've been searching for the same thing recently, and it looks like not much has changed.

The closest thing Google makes available is the has:circle advanced search operator.

According to Google, has:circle will:

Search for all messages that were sent from someone who you added to your Google+ circles

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.