View Only Your (Important) Unread Messages in Gmail

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A couple months back I wrote about how to filter your Gmail inbox so it shows only unread messages.

A while later, reader Patrick wrote to ask if one could further filter the inbox to show only those unread messages marked as "important."

Yes. Yes, there is. I know this because Patrick followed up a day later with the solution. (I love it when readers do my job for me. The rest of you are slackers.)

Here's an excerpt from the original post:

Another problem I've encountered is that unread mail keeps getting pushed off the page by newer messages. And you know what they say: out of sight, out of mind. I need a way to view only my unread messages, without having to click through several pages' worth of mail.

Gmail doesn't have a view option for this, but there is a solution:

In the Search field, type is:unread and then click Search Mail.

Presto! Now your inbox will show only those messages you haven't read. (When you're ready to go back to the standard view, just click your Inbox link.) Want to save a few keystrokes? You can also type l:^u. (The letter "L" in front is an abbreviation for "label.")

As Patrick rightly noted, you can add a second modifier to the search field. Thus, to accomplish his request, he'd type is:unread is:important and then click Search Mail.

Want to take it even further? Tack on has:attachment. Or is:starred. Behold, the power of Gmail search!

Speaking of which, check out Google's help page on Using advanced search, which covers all the available modifiers. You'll be amazed at the different ways you can use the search tool.

Contributing Editor Rick Broida writes about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at, or try the treasure trove of helpful folks in the PC World Community Forums.Sign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week.

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