I, like most, get a lot of email that isn't spam but isn't interesting. I read the first line preview and then archive it with a swipe on my iPhone. This causes an annoyance because the phone archives it without marking it as read, meaning when I use the web app or my mail app, I get numbers beside various labels.

If I search Gmail with the following filter:

-label:inbox -label:trash -label:sent -label:spam

then it pretty much just selects messages I've sent to archive. However if I then try to create a filter with that, Gmail changes it to:


every single damn time. All I want is to select only archived messages with a filter, and mark them as read.

Anyone have any idea how to get around this?

There must be a way.

2 Answers 2


You can use

in:(anywhere -inbox) label:unread


in:anywhere label:(unread -inbox)

in:anywhere is the same as "All Mail": mails in inbox, archived, and sent mails. When used in conjection with labels, like label:any, it further expands to trash, spam, draft as well.

The () after the : makes it an AND operator: all conditions inside () must be fulfilled. So in:(anywhere -inbox) selects all mails, except those in inbox. Since all inbox mails are also labelled as inbox, putting it in label: also works.


You can create a filter if you use the condensed short syntax like so:

-label:{inbox trash sent spam}

This won't overly help your situation though, since filters only operate on incoming mail.

Your best alternative at this stage may be to bookmark the search so you can quickly mark all as read. For something a little more persistent, you could enable the Quick Links feature in Labs and add the search to that.

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