Consider this setup in my Gmail inbox where I have 3 lists:

  • mailing-lists/first-list
  • mailing-lists/second-list
  • mailing-lists/third-list

If I want to search for all unread messages in any sub-label of mailing-lists, is there a better way to search than

is:unread label:mailing-list/first-list OR label:mailing-list/second-list OR label:mailing-list/third-list

What I'm looking for is something more like:

is:unread label:mailing-list/*

  • 7
    +1 This should be implemented. I do not see much advantage in using nested labels without this recursive search.
    – Lazer
    Commented Jul 18, 2012 at 7:08
  • 3
    +1 another year later. What is the point of nesting without having any relationship between nested labels?
    – A.M.
    Commented Jul 18, 2013 at 2:36
  • 1
    +1 nine years later...
    – iraklisg
    Commented Jun 30, 2020 at 16:00
  • 2
    +1 twelve years later.
    – lakeside
    Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 15:21
  • 1
    +1 Asked 11 years, 6 months ago… shame on you Gmail team! Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 10:05

4 Answers 4


Once you've created your search criteria (i.e. is:unread label:A OR label:B-1), you will notice that the URL contains the search criteria as well. Therefore you can simply bookmark the searches in your browser this way you could quickly go back to that "view" easily.

This does mean that your search criteria will only work on the computer you set the bookmark up on unless you use a bookmark sharing utility or if you use Chrome which remembers your bookmarks on all your devices.


If you are using filters to apply the labels, then it should be possible is to create another filter to apply a second label to all the messages. You can then use this second label in your search criteria.


Unfortunately, the only way to do this is the longer way you've done in the past. Simply type is:unread label:mailing-list/first-list OR label:mailing-list/second-list OR label:mailing-list/third-list into the search-bar on Gmail.


You could try something like is:unread list:[e-mail address of list]. This would work in your particular situation because the first part of your label is the list name.

  • 3
    I'm looking for the same feature: recursive label searching. The solution provided will not work for me, because this is not a mailing list.
    – user9918
    Commented Apr 4, 2011 at 14:53

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