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?

  • 6
    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, 2013 at 18:58
  • 8
    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. Mar 1, 2013 at 16:00
  • For me searching for "in:archived" or just visiting: mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#archive
    – Futile32
    Mar 31, 2019 at 14:51

8 Answers 8


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.

  • 22
    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).
    – MrWhite
    Aug 7, 2012 at 8:52
  • 5
    Tip: Typing in:all in the Gmail search box will take you directly to the "All Mail" view / system label.
    – Rubén
    Aug 25, 2015 at 16:27
  • 2
    This is not nearly as good an answer as IQAndreas's because you have to wade through all emails including newsletters, social and other junk that is normally filtered. This is also pretty useless if Gmail archived an email before you could see which email it was (for example in the app if it mistook an up/down swipe for left/right then hid "undo" under the "compose" button) Feb 17, 2018 at 9:29
  • @user568458 When I originally answered this question in 2011, the social/promotions/updates/forums filtering feature didn’t exist, yet. Feb 17, 2018 at 13:44
  • If you don't know which message it is note that the archive icon shown together with 3 other icons on the right while hovering over the item in the "All Mail" list is grey instead of black when the message is already archived. Jul 4, 2022 at 6:41

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

To move them back to the inbox, select all the displayed messages (or a subset of them if you only want to restore some of them) and click the icon that says "Move to Inbox" when hovering over it.

  • 2
    What does the has:nouserlabels do for this query? Aug 19, 2014 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, 2014 at 4:08
  • 2
    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, 2015 at 16:29
  • 1
    This is the best answer because it seems to show only achieved emails. Shame it's so insanely unintuitive, but works fine with copy/paste Feb 17, 2018 at 9:25
  • 1
    This is easily the best answer. Amazing that it's 6 years old and Google still hasn't addressed this issue.
    – fig
    Aug 22, 2019 at 6:33

Just search for -label:inbox.

  • 9
    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, 2013 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, 2013 at 20:13
  • @TonyG I'll just have to add it as an answer then ;) webapps.stackexchange.com/a/51918/39545
    – IQAndreas
    Nov 13, 2013 at 21:00
  • 1
    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, 2013 at 8:52
  • 1
    BEST AND SIMPLEST SOLUTION Jul 2, 2020 at 21:18

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.


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.

  • 3
    Not always. For example if it's at the bottom of the screen in the app, "undo" is hidden behind the floating "compose" button, and scrolling to make it visible causes the button to permanently disappear... Feb 17, 2018 at 9:33
  • Admittedly, it is now almost 7 years since this answer was posted, but I just did basically what the OP did and there was not "Undo" that I saw.
    – GreenMatt
    Sep 9, 2019 at 13:05
  • 1
    "Undo" is too close to other buttons and too small. If one accidentally archives a message one probably also will have trouble hitting this tiny link under time pressure (one knows from past experience that the link will only be there for a few seconds). Jul 4, 2022 at 7:00

Google finally fixed this. Here's the 2020 answer:



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.

  • 6
    And how is this different than this answer?
    – ale
    Dec 17, 2012 at 17:50
  • Also, I think that the most important information is that you have to enable the label All Mail (it's singular) in the Settings. If one has All Mail among his labels, he wouldn't be asking I guess. Sep 13, 2019 at 16:01

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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