Gmail Tip: Mark All Unread Mail as Read

I’m finally moving my main email account to Google Apps.  This way, spam should be less of an issue, and I’ll be able to access all of my mail online.  Google has a nice importer application, so I can easily upload over 25 thousand old email messages (I’m not even importing everything).  The one problem I’ve found is that for some reason some of my email shows up as unread.  If you get in the same situation, or just want to “catch up”, here’s an easy way to mark everything as read.

  1. Go to your Settings/Filters page and create a new filter.
  2. In the Has the words field enter “is:unread” (without quotes), and click the Next Step button.
  3. You’ll get a message warning you that this type of filter won’t be applied to new mail, but that’s OK.  Click OK to continue.
  4. Check the boxes next to Mark as read and Also apply filter to … conversations below.
  5. Click Create Filter button, and you’re done.  You might want to should delete the filter once you finish since it won’t be needing it anymore.

Update: Thanks everyone in the comments and at Lifehacker for pointing out the easier way to do this.  You learn something new every day.

  • Kevin

    Worked like a charm. Thanks for posting this!

  • TheRafMan

    Awesome! Thank you!

    I was about to ditch Gmail because it was hard to find the needle in the haystack.
    One would think that Google would have it built in already or made it easier to get this info.

    Thank you again.

  • beth


  • Joel

    I have an easier way…
    in Gmail just above the top email. select all. then in the center of the page on top of the first email click the button that says select all 2304 (or however many emails you have) then mark as read.

  • Plecebo

    Alternatively if you choose “All” from the select options just above your first email in your box you will get an indicator added just above your email that reads:

    All 50 conversations on this page are selected. Select all 99 conversations in Inbox.

    You can click the “Select all 99 conversations in Inbox.”

    to select every item in your Inbox and then choose “Mark as read” from the More actions drop down.

  • Jim

    I find it easier to search for “is:unread” from the main screen. If you select All (rather just unread) then Gmail will add a link to select All items that match this search criteria.

    There is no need to have a temporary filter for this purpose as you can do it all from the mail screen.

  • Mattia

    Hey, I think you are wrong. In google inbox when you click “unread” to select unread mail, if there are mail unread in other pages a yellow bar appears asking if you want to select all the unread mail, even the hided one. I hope you understand my bad english =)

  • Theresa

    Thanks so much for this! I had a hidden unread message that just wouldn’t clear or change to ‘read’ DESPITE selecting ALL UNREAD in my whole inbox (not just the front page but ALL 4000 of them!) – Interestingly when creating this filter, it listed the rogue message which, according to the date, should have been on the front page! It seemed to have been hiding somewhere! Very strange.

    So in conclusion, this tip is great when gmail has a blip! Thanks again!

  • Rory

    Thanks mate.

  • Ori

    This worked like a charm, i just started with google mail and the one thing i was freaked about was the 6k+ emails that were unread.. 30 seconds after reading this i have 0 unread.. u rock.. thanks

  • Abhijit

    thanx a lott man.. it helped A LOT!

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  • Gabriella Watcher

    Of course, what a great site and informative posts, I will add backlink – bookmark this site? Regards, Reader.

  • Bente Kalsnes

    Thanks for the blog post, saved my day! I did actually use Joel’s suggestion, super easy!

  • Free Prestashop Theme

    thanks for this tips. Google have to improve their mail

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  • Renjith

    Thanks Bro…

  • Jonathan Enns

    Thanks! This helped!

  • varma


  • Ginu Punoose

    dude its working thanx

  • Srinivas Prabhu G

    thanks for article..

  • Faizan

    was very simple to do but after i knew how to!

  • giang le

    thanks, It worked

  • manikanta..

    woooooooooow… really awesome….

  • Garg

    Thanks a lot..very usefula post

  • yknox7772

    AMEN!! Thank you!! Quick and Pain Free!!

  • porchmonkey


  • Suresh

    Thank u s working fine.. good job

  • Harsh


    Worked Smoothly

  • Guest

    ZOMG!!! I have had thousands of unread emails in my gmail account for years! I always figured it was never going to be fixed so I just let it get worse and worse. Man (or wo-man) thanks so much for this, it’s like a whole new gmail!

  • cutesangma

    thankQ sooo muz!!… had thousands of unread mails!!..
    had swept them  in secs!
    thanks again :)

  • Rashi Kalra Lalwani

    Sweet!!! That is awesome!!! Thanks a ton….