How to Retrieve Archived Emails in Gmail [Complete Guide]

Archiving your old emails is a great way to keep your inbox organized.

Gmail allows you to move your old emails to an archive for safekeeping. The tricky part comes when you want to find those emails again and restore them to your inbox.

If you’re wondering where emails go when you archive them and how to get them back, we’ve compiled a simple step-by-step guide for you.

The process is slightly different depending on whether you use Gmail on a mobile device or on a desktop computer.

Retrieve Archived Emails On Mobile

Open the Gmail app.

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You’ll need to sign in to the account you want to access, so type in your Gmail username and password.

Once you’re in your inbox, look for the Gmail Menu icon near the top left corner of your device. It should be a square box containing three parallel horizontal lines, as in the screenshot below.

This will open a pop-out menu with a list of folders on the left of your screen.

You should see buttons to access your Outbox, Sent Mail, Drafts, etc. Directly beneath the Drafts folder is a button labeled All Mail.

Select this button.


The All Mail button treats your inbox as a giant disorganized dumpster of all the emails you’ve ever received.

This is where your old emails go when you archive them.

All the emails that are still in your Inbox will be marked with the tag Inbox to the far right of its subject line.

The archived emails are the ones without the Inbox tag.

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If you remember what the email you’re looking for contains, you can search for it in the Search Mail box toward the top of the screen.

Type in a keyword specific to the email you want to find.

Once you’ve found the lost email, select it to open it in full screen mode.

When the email opens up, tap the Options icon near the top right corner of your device. It should be a square box containing three dots in a vertical line.

In the Options menu, look for the button labeled Move to Inbox.

Selecting this button will unarchive the email and send it back to your inbox.

Retrieve Archived Emails On Desktop

Open Gmail, and log in to your account.

Look for the navigation panel at the left of your screen.

Depending on your browser, the navigation panel may display a list of words such as Inbox, Starred, Sent, or it may just be a vertical row of icons.

If it’s just a toolbar with icons, hover over the icons, and the corresponding titles should appear.

Click on the More icon at the bottom to extend the navigation panel downward.

Among the buttons that appear, look for the one labeled All Mail, Click it.

This should display all the emails in your Gmail account except emails marked as Trash or Spam.

The emails that are already in your Inbox will be marked with the Inbox tag directly to the left of the email’s subject line.

Emails you are currently drafting will be marked with the Draft tag on the left side of the menu.

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The emails that aren’t marked with the Inbox or Draft tag are your archived emails.

If you don’t see the one you’re looking for, you can search for it in the Search bar at the top of the screen.

First, open the Advanced Search menu by clicking the down arrow on the right side of the Search bar.

Find the option labeled Search, and set it to All Mail.

Now you can search for the email you need using a specific keyword, or by sender, recipient, subject, size or date.

Once you’ve located the email, select the square box by the star-shaped icon on the left side of the email menu. A check mark should appear in the box.

Find the Move to Inbox button and click it.

It should be above the email menu in the main toolbar.

It may have the words Move to Inbox, or it may just be an icon of a folder with an arrow pointing downward.

A confirmation window should show up at the bottom left of your screen.


Gmail’s HR software development crew has made restoring an email just as easy archiving it. If this guide has been a help to you, be sure to share it with your friends and contacts.

Rahul Setia was born and raised in the Kaithal, Haryana. He worked at brands like Jabong, ProProfs etc. He was also in the List of Top 100 Social Media Influencer's 2019 by Status Brew. He lives in Delhi/NCR and is a Digital Gig & Founder of Websites i.e,, Follow me on: LinkedIn, @rahulsetia007 and Facebook.

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