How can I mark all emails as read on a certain label with several sub labels in Gmail? I have a label, say Projects, with several sub-projects, like ProjectA ProjectB, ProjectC underneath it.

Is there a simple way to mark all emails under Projects to be marked as Read?

  • I don't know that there's an easy way to do that, since you can't use wildcards in a label: search.
    – ale
    Feb 21 '13 at 13:27

select the label, in the search bar, it will show label:mylabel - add label:unread and search.

select all messages by ticking the top left checkbox

if there are more unread messages than can be displayed, a small notice will appear above the first message in the search results - you want to select all messages which match the search.

now you can click the 'more' button and select the 'mark as read' option.

  • it only shows top N emails
    – CSK
    Apr 3 '21 at 18:28
  • 2
    The 3rd paragraph of the answer deals with that @CSK Apr 13 '21 at 17:23

Short answer

If you are using nested labels and want to find all messages that belongs to one label and to the contained labels then search for label:(Parent), then select all messages and mark them as read.

Extended answer

Assume that the structure of nested labels are as follow:

GrandParent/Parent/Child 1
GrandParent/Parent/Child 2

1 Search for label:(Parent). This will return all the messages that belongs to

GrandParent/Parent/Child 1
GrandParent/Parent/Child 2


2 Click the Select: All link above your messages.
3 Click the link that says Select all [number] conversations in [current view].
4 Select the action you'd like to take from the More Actions... drop-down menu.

Important note: The label search operator only search for whole label names. If the label name include special characters or has misspelled, in order to work, should be written exactly as the label is.

Advanced search - Gmail Help
Automatically mark or move multiple messages - Gmail Help

  • Unfortunately it doesn't, it only shows the parent labelled emails.
    – Johnny_D
    Mar 13 '20 at 19:14
  • @Johnny_D First comment in almost five years! I'm pretty sure that this worked fine then. Did the Tom's answer work for you?
    – Rubén
    Mar 13 '20 at 20:42

With Google mail, go to the parent label ("Projects") and with each sub label it should appear to the left of the subject, with this screen (on the parent label) tick all and mark as read.

Reply if this is right or not for your situation :)

  • Showing some pics would definitely clarify things. Mar 16 '13 at 18:38
  • This only work for the current page of emails, not for all emails under that label if 100s/1000s
    – flurdy
    Jun 12 '14 at 11:06

In the searchbox in your gmail use label:unread to display all unread mails. When you want to filter this down towards one or more filters, append the search query with label:x

After that simple (keep using) use the button "More" and select "Mark all as read". This will mark all email (on current page) as read, and automatically UPDATE the browser with a new series of unread mails, to keep matching the search query still active.. So keep doing that until you're through. Simplest way, with least amount of actions.

Make sure the amount of emails per page is maximized to make things easier.


Unfortunately I have been unable to include a wildcard for the search but you can do the following:

  1. Use the search box to a label you want, or click on the label on the side menu
  2. On the same row as the More button you will see a button with a square and a pull down. click on the pull down
  3. You will see several choices including: All, None, Read, Unread, Starred, Unstarred. Click All.
  4. all the messages on that page will be highlighted. And an extra row will be added to the top of the list. This row will say: All 100 conversations on this page are selected. Select all 115 conversations in "Projects"

  5. The second part of that statement is a link that will select all the messages, not just the ones on that page. Click it.

  6. Then use the More button to tell Gmail to mark them all as read.

Repeat for other labels or searches you need to run.


Create a new filter with the "Has keywords: " field containing "label:Projects" or whatever else appears in the search bar when you open the folder.

  1. Select to apply it to all currently matching items
  2. Select Mark as read
  3. Click Apply

You'll get a popup suggesting you not use labels because no incoming mail will ever match, but that's kind of the point.

Anyway, don't forget to delete the filter when you're done.

  • 1
    Filters only act on receipt of the message.
    – ale
    Apr 17 '15 at 11:03

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