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Gmail’s ‘Archive’ Feature Explained

Do you want your Gmail inbox to be clean and uncluttered? You get all sorts of emails every day. Some are important enough to be kept in your inbox, while some are not useful now but may prove helpful in the future. So, how do you manage your Gmail account in such a case? Well, you make use of Gmail’s archive feature.

Gmail’s archive feature allows you to move the emails that are not important at the moment but will be needed later to a separate place (like a folder). This is a great option for Gmail users as they can have an organized, clean inbox without deleting anything.     

If you are unclear about how Gmail’s archive feature works, then you are at the right place. Let’s look at where you can find Gmail’s archive folder and how you can make the most of it.    

What is the Archive Feature in Gmail?

Archive Email Key on Keyboard

Your Gmail account typically gets hundreds of emails weekly, which can clog up your mailbox. A cluttered mailbox can make it quite challenging to keep on top of things, while there’s also a chance that you might miss some important notifications.

Deleting or archiving your emails ensures a clean and organized mailbox, helping you run your business. 

Organizing and Archiving Emails

There are several options available if you want to organize your inbox. You can either delete or move your emails to Gmail’s archive folder. Deleting the emails sends them to the trash folder, where they remain for thirty days, after which they are permanently deleted. Such emails can no longer be retrieved or viewed. 

However, if you choose to archive them, then you are simply moving them to another folder from where they can be easily retrieved when needed. 

Archiving an email means that you are filing it away for future reference. However, archived emails will reappear in your inbox if someone responds to them. 

How to Access Archived Emails on the Mobile App and Desktop

You cannot see archived emails in your Gmail inbox. So, if you want to retrieve archived emails, what should you do?

How to Access Archived Emails on Your Desktop 

If you are using your PC to log into your Gmail account, there are two options with which you can find archived emails:

Use All Mail Folder  

If you look through the emails in your inbox, you will notice no archived emails in that list. This is because Google hides archived emails by default. If you need to find an archived email, you should go to the All Mail folder by following the steps below:

  1. Hover your cursor over the hamburger menu icon in the top left corner of the Gmail application screen.
  1. This will cause the side menu to expand.
  1. In this extended menu, look for the All Mail folder.
  1. Tap on this folder. 

This option is best if you’re looking for a recently archived email; however, if you get many emails every day, then going through each email to find the one you are looking for can be tedious and time-consuming.

In such a case, using the Gmail search bar is better, as you can precisely find the archived email you are looking for.

Using the Search Bar

You can also use the search bar to access the archived emails in Gmail. Unfortunately, there is no specific archive folder in the Gmail app.

You must know the sender, subject, or the topic of the archived email that you want to see to search for it manually. When using the search bar, you will need to:

  1. Type in some words from the email you want to retrieve in the search bar. A list of emails with those words will appear. 
  1. If you don’t know any specific words, type in:Sent in:Draft in:Inbox in the search bar before typing has:nouserlabels. This will show all the emails in your Inbox and the Sent and Drafts folder. 
  1. Experiment with using other commands like from:, to:, and subject: as ways to search your mail.
  2. Go through the list to search for the email in question.  

How to Access Archived Emails on Your Mobile Phone

The method of accessing archived emails on your mobile phone is the same whether you use an Android phone or an iPhone. Although the interface is a bit different, this process is similar to the one used to retrieve archived emails on the computer Mail app.

  1. Use All Mail Folder.
  1. Open the Gmail app on your phone and log into your account.
  1. Tap on the hamburger icon in the top left corner.
  1. Select All Mail.
  1. Use The Search Bar.
  1. Select the Gmail app.
  1. Enter your keywords in the search bar at the top.

How to Change Your Settings to Delete Emails Instead of Archive

As an iOS user, you must have noticed that if you try to delete your emails, you only get an archive option. On iPhones and iPads, the option to change the default setting of archiving emails with the Mail app is a bit tricky to access. 

But if you know where to go, you can easily change your settings to delete emails within minutes. If you use Apple’s Mail app for Gmail and want to delete your emails instead of archiving them, then follow the steps below: 

  1. Go to Settings.
  1. Scroll down and open Mail.
  1. Go to accounts and then open your Gmail account.
  1. Tap on accounts.
  1. Select the Advanced option at the bottom.
  1. Under the Move Discarded Messages Into section, choose Deleted Mailbox.
  1. Go back and tap on Done on the top right.

You can also use the Gmail app on your iPhone or iPad. Third-party email services such as Gmail can be set as default on devices that support iOS 14 and above. You can also change the default settings in the Gmail iOS app:

  1. In the top left corner, you will find the three-line icon. Tap on it.
  1. Scroll down and choose Settings.
  1. Select Mail swipe actions.