In Gmail, how do you select all emails that are not important and not starred?

  • How do you define not important? – LDC3 May 23 '14 at 5:51
  • @LDC3 important is a default gmail label. It's usually automatically applied to emails sent by your contacts. – Derek Chiang May 23 '14 at 7:23

The filters search against all messages, and then returns entire conversations (assuming the user has turned on Conversation View in the Settings). If any message within a conversation is returned by the query, then the entire conversation is returned, even if the conversation as a whole is not starred.

Therefore using the -in:starred will only work if ALL the messages in the thread are starred.

What is misleading about the Gmail UI is that starring the conversation, does not star all the containing messages, and therefor won't remove it from the filtered inbox when using the -in:starred search option, despite appearing to be starred in the main inbox view.

The syntax of the filter is not important, Gmail accepts both -in:starred and -is:starred with or without the AND keyword.

Of course, if you do not use Gmail in Conversation View (Settings → General → Conversation View), then the filter will work as expected.

  • Such a frustrating filter .. everyone uses conversation view – MikeMurko Oct 20 '19 at 3:49

Open the mailbox that you would like to filter, In the search tab type -L:important

This will filter all mail that is marked not important.

For starred mail use in:inbox AND -in:starred

This will filter not starred messages

  • 4
    This doesn't work anymore. – Dirk Groeneveld Oct 4 '15 at 4:49
  • 2
    this does not work – user756 Jan 30 '17 at 17:02
  • works for me... – Rauni Sep 5 '17 at 9:24
  • This doesn't work. It still shows starred messages. – Ben Davis Oct 26 '18 at 18:00

This search query:

in:inbox and (-in:starred or -in:important) 
  • 1
    this does not work – user756 Jan 30 '17 at 17:02
  • 1
    Worked for me on 21 Dec 2017 – the_meter413 Dec 21 '17 at 9:29
  • Worked for me today – insign May 4 '18 at 14:18

I used this search, which worked perfectly

in:inbox and (-in:starred and -in:important) 

It's based on this answer by mfcabrera, but I tweaked it slightly, replacing or by and

  • Please note that "above" has no context in answers since they can be sorted in different ways, and voting may change the order in the default sort. Better to reference a single answer with a link to it. – ale Jan 8 '16 at 17:49
  • 1
    this does not work – user756 Jan 30 '17 at 17:03

I used Al's version by searching but, added the last part for: in:inbox and (-in:starred or -in:important) is:unread

So, I generally got only un-read and un-starred items. I don't use the 'important' label so I removed that.

I then cycled through my inbox by a: checking all, b: unchecking and starring any items I wanted to save, then clicking 'mark as read'. I repeated that to clean out about 800 emails I really didn't need to see.

I've also been trying unroll.me as a free service that 'rolls up' all the emails from newsletters, news sources and want-to-read-someday emails. They then roll those all up into one email vs. 50 that I'll get this week. Pretty cool.


I know am pretty late. I had the same query. Unfortunately, the above answers aren't much help anymore.

You can find all the not important emails with this query. I am not sure about starred(I will update if and when I find something.).


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Use this query:

-label:important -in:starred
  • 1
    this does not work – user756 Jan 30 '17 at 17:03

Although Google doesn't support selecting all unstarred messages in conversation view, there's a third-party paid product called SuperHuman which does.

It properly filters any conversations having at least one starred message when you search using the -is:starred keyword.

It's a product designed to make email usage with Google/G-suite more productive/efficient. I've been using it for 6 months, and though it costs $30/month, I admit it has saved me a lot of time.

Other email apps like Spark may support this as well. If archiving un-starred emails is part of your regular email workflow the apps may be the way to go.

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