Gmail’s search is getting a significant update that will allow users to more easily narrow results to help them find a specific email. Before today, users could type in search filters by hand (e.g. label:work, has:attachment, from:email@example.com, etc.) or use the drop-down box to perform an advanced search. But these options were less obvious, cumbersome and therefore under-utilized by many Gmail users. With the upgraded version of Gmail search, new filters — which Google calls “search chips” — will appear directly below the search box for simple, one-click access.
At launch, there are a variety of filters available, including those that will help you narrow down emails by sender, whether or not emails have an attachment, by time frame, and more. You also can use the new filters to exclude certain types of search results — like those that are calendar updates or chats, for example. And you can specify emails by attachment type, such as text, spreadsheet or PDF.
The filters can be used in combination, helping you to narrow down searches as you go. For instance, you could search an email with a colleague’s name, which included a PDF, and was sent last month, using just a few clicks on the filters.
As anyone who’s ever tried to dig up an email from their Gmail inbox knows, Google’s search system has needed improvement. Even Google acknowledged this was true, noting in an announcement that it had heard from users that searching Gmail “could be faster and more intuitive.”
Using search filters has for years felt like a power user Gmail hack, rather than something that should be accessible to everyone — including those who don’t think like engineers.
The Gmail update is rolling out starting today, February 19, to G Suite users, and may take up to 15 days to complete, Google says.
G Suite is often the first to get a new feature, but Google confirmed to TechCrunch the plan is to bring these new filters to consumer Gmail after the G Suite rollout completes. The company doesn’t have an exact ETA for the consumer launch, but doesn’t expect it to be too long after, we’re told.