Where can I find documentation that states the effect of "special" with other characters in Gmail search, for example "here | there".

I know:

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(note "only") but I was surprised and dismayed to see failure of a search expression containing | (bar) (presumably "like" those listed characters) but not only | (bar) e.g. "here | there".

2 Answers 2


Short answer

There is no official documentation so you should look at user created documentation.

Extended answer

The Gmail documentation:

Both places point readers looking for advanced search operators to https://support.google.com/mail/answer/7190?hl=en

Neither of previous sites states the effects of special characters with other characters but Sensesul made a great blog post about that. See - How Gmail Filter Email-Matching Works dated on Wednesday, July 14, 2010.

According to Aʟ E. on this answer, the Gmail Search official help article used to say that

Gmail doesn't recognize special search characters like square brackets, parentheses, currency symbols, the ampersand, the pound sign, and asterisks

But the above statement was removed from the current version.

String quote enclosed

"" are used to search for an exact word or phrase. The official help article about it doesn't mention that special characters are ignored, but they are.

Regarding the pipe as search operator

The oldest dated post/web page that I found that mention the use of the pipe character | as search operator is Gmail search operators work in filters, too by Gina Trapani dated on 4/10/06 12:30pm, but this mentions the use of double pipe ||

Another old post that mentions the use of single pipe | is Ten Must-Have Gmail Filters Available for Download by Gina Trapani dated on 3/11/09 9:00am.

See also

  • 1
    "the above statement was removed from the current version." Figures, since certainly it is not currently true for |. Gmail recognises the | of "here | there", as proven by the fact the results differ w.r.t "here there".
    – ChrisJJ
    Nov 23, 2016 at 15:01

What I found is that you can figure out what Google does by creating a label with the text you want to query, then click on the label and it will perform a search of messages with that label. For the characters I was interested in "() ", it ends up replacing them with dashes "-" so it seems it "normalizes" the search query, which explains why your particular search would not work.

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