I'd like to sort all of my Gmail messages that don't have label, so I can process them (I miss some every now and then). I can sort by every label by clicking on it at the left, but how do you sort the unlabeled ones?

6 Answers 6


Updated: There is a blog today about updated Gmail search modifiers that allow you to do this with a simple search!


Note: Because of Gmails threading you will have labels on some of the messages in the derived list because some messages in a thread will have labeling while some won't. (From Gmail Help - Advanced Search site.)

Original answer:

The Gmail advanced search help page says:

label: Search for messages by label*

There isn't a search operator for unlabeled messages

Example: from:amy label:friends
Meaning: Messages from Amy that have the label "friends"

Example: from:david label:my-family
Meaning: Messages from David that have the label "My Family"


One way you can do it is by using the minus operator on the label operator. So for example:

-label:tag-a -label:tag-b -label:tag-c

or for one-word tags:

-label:{taga tagb tagc}

This is probably only practical if you don't have a lot of labels.

Additionally, if they don't change often, you can include a link to this search so that it easily accessible from Gmail. There is a Google Labs product which puts a box of links on the left side and allows you to customize them. Just add a link to this search query and you'll be able to access your untagged messages easily.

It seems like there is a greasemonkey script which will work too. Here is the script's website. It creates a special label, Unlabelled, to search for all the conversations without a real label.


In my case I had lots of rubbish in the All Mail folder, mail that should have been deleted but accumulated there for some reason. I wanted to get rid of it without touching anything that was labelled including the nonuser labels. This did the trick:

has:nouserlabels -in:Inbox -in:Draft -in:Sent
  • 1
    "All Mail" is more than a label. It is literally all your mail.
    – ale
    Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 23:39
  • 1
    I'd also add -is:chat
    – blee
    Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 4:57

Google has the operator has:nouserlabels now. It works like a charm for what you want to do.

I don't know why it was so difficult to find for so long. Maybe it is fairly new.

  • 2
    It is new. It was part of an update in the last week. (Also mentioned in an update to the accepted answer.)
    – ale
    Commented Nov 21, 2012 at 15:53
  • 3
    Well, it doesn't work like a charm, bringing up a bunch of posts that have labels also, but I'm excited that they are finally implementing something. Commented Nov 26, 2012 at 16:39

I would try:

has:nouserlabels -in:trash -is:chat -in:inbox
  • has:nouserlabels -in:inbox worked for me, but, I like more Outlook/hotmail approach - in folders. I don't know why Gmail is so convoluted in this aspect. Commented Dec 21, 2021 at 22:38

This works very well, except in my experience, it only shows 20 per page, no matter what your settings are, and won't show the total number to fix, but still... got the job done! Put this in your inbox search box:

in:inbox has:nouserlabels

  • 2
    The question was to show all messages. Your answer just limits it to the inbox.
    – Jacob Jan
    Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 20:46

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