Looking for that email about your PayPal account that you got a couple weeks back? It would be so much easier if you sort your Gmail emails by date either newest first or oldest first. Maybe it’s the one with pictures of your new nephew attached. Or the one from a month ago with the invitation and directions to your friend’s surprise birthday party that happens to be tonight. It could be just about anything. The situation facing you is that you need or want to find an email that came into your inbox a number of weeks ago but don’t want to scroll down the thousand or so items that have come into it since. So you tap at the top of the date column to reverse the sort order, but nothing happens. Maybe it didn’t take, so you tap it again. And again. Are you using Gmail?
For all the good that Google brings us and has brought us over the years, the various apps and features they offer us do not always use the most intuitive ways of making things do what we want to do with them. This is the case with the date sort option in Gmail. I can’t tell you how many email systems I have used – from Outlook to Webmail like Yahoo! and Hotmail – and they all pretty much work the same way. Tap the top of a column, and your email sorts by date, sender, subject, size, just about any way you want to sort it.
It is super handy to be able to sort email this easily because there are a number of ways you might be able to narrow down where that item you want to see right now is. Sometimes, you are in a hurry, and being able to tap the top of a column to do these different sort types is the fastest way to do it.
Now, before I go any further, let me be clear that this is not a knock on Gmail or Google, just telling it like it is. I find it convenient to be able to quickly sort my email list however I want to do it with just a click. And that is why I pull down my Gmail onto my desktop and into Outlook.
Did you know you can do this? It is, in my humble opinion, the best way to get Gmail. In fact, I pull all of my Webmail accounts into Outlook. It is just so much easier than checking from one site to another. Why do I have so many email accounts? Business, family, shopping, gaming, and a place for the junk to go are some of the reasons.
Anyway, once the Gmail lands into Outlook, I can sort it however I want to sort it. If you haven’t been doing that, I’ll tell you how it is done real quick. What’s that? You don’t have Outlook? Not a problem. All you need is a free utility like Mozilla’s Thunderbird.
Once you have that downloaded:
1. Go into your Gmail account and click the tool daisy in the upper right hand corner.
2. From that menu, choose Settings.
3. In the top row of menu tabs you will see Forwarding and POP/IMAP (just past the middle point of the items). Click there.
4. Now go down to the POP Download section. The first choice you have to make is whether you want to forward all Gmail or only the Gmail that comes to your inbox from now on:
- If you want to draw all of your old emails into your email client (Outlook, Thunderbird, etc.) along with all new mail, choose “all mail.”
- If you only want to bring in new emails then pick “from now on.”
5. Next, you have four options under part 2. Here is a brief rundown on what each does:
- Keep Gmail copy in the inbox — Doing this leaves the original Gmail item as-is, marked unread, for you to find the next time you go directly to Gmail.
- Mark Gmail’s copy as read — Does the same as above except for marking the item as read once it is downloaded via POP.
- Archive Gmail’s copy — Keeps the message in Gmail but removes it from the inbox and into an archival folder.
- Delete Gmail’s copy — The item is deleted from your Gmail inbox when it is downloaded via POP.
6. Do not shut the Gmail window just yet.
7. To set up the POP download in your email client, follow the instructions for the client.
8. When you need to configure the Gmail account, go back to the Gmail window and look to part 3 in the POP Download section for a link to Configuration Instructions. That link takes you to all the server settings needed to set up the POP account on your desktop.
Sort by Date
If you don’t want to receive your Gmail on your desktop like that, then you will still want to learn how to sort your Gmail by date. It isn’t hard at all. It’s just not as intuitive as clicking the top of the date column.
When you are in your inbox or any other Gmail folder, look to the item count. Maybe you’ve never noticed it before, so here’s where to find it and sort your items by date:
- If you found the tool daisy earlier, look to the left of that, next to the arrows. Those digits are your item count. It will be something like, “1 to 50 of 2,432.”
- Hover over that item count with your cursor and either Oldest or Newest will appear, depending on your current date sort.
- Click on the one that is showing and the date sort will reverse.
- Do the same to return to your previous date sort method.
Looking for the way to sort your Gmail by sender, subject, or anything else? Well, this is Gmail. It comes from Google. That means, look to the search bar at the top of the page.
The search bar in Gmail is your own personal Google search for your inbox. It does not search the web, so don’t type in “purple people eater” unless you have some email that has that in it for you will be sorely disappointed if you do.
Here is how the Gmail search bar works. Let’s say you’re looking for an email from Chris about your upcoming trip to Paris. In the search bar, type, “Chris Paris” and only those emails from Chris about Paris will appear in your inbox window. You can do the same for a date range, attachment title, any number of search criteria that will bring up the inbox item you are searching to find.
If you need a hint on what kind of criteria to use, or want to use several at once, there is a hand search form for that.
In the search bar there is a small arrow at the far right of the box. When you click on that arrow, a form pops up.
You can use this form to narrow down your inbox contents by:
- Recipient (usually you when in your inbox)
- Word(s) contained in the email;
- Word(s) not found in the email;
- Emails with (or without) attachments;
- Size of the email, and of course,
You can fill out one item on the form or all of them or any number of search terms in between. This doesn’t sort, mind you, but it does return search results, just like Google should be expected to do. The more you know about the email you want, the better you can narrow it down this way. In fact, it may be better than the traditional sort when you go looking for that one special piece of electronic correspondence that is like no other in your inbox.
It is easy enough to get used to having search without sort, but I do not understand why Gmail doesn’t offer both. Other Webmail and utilities like Outlook or Thunderbird have the search option along with sort, so it seems that Gmail could easily add the sort option. I do like the sort option, if you haven’t been able to tell by now.
Most Ignored Gmail Feature
Now that we’ve gone over how to download Gmail via POP, sort by date, and search by keyword or form, I want to share what I think may just be the best available and yet most ignored feature in Gmail. I say it may be the most ignored because of what I see in my inbox every day from others using Gmail. What is that sorely neglected Gmail feature? Spell-check!
So, I am going to spread the word right here, right now. When composing a new email in Gmail, there is a little arrow in the lower right-hand corner. This opens the More Options menu. The last item on the list is Check Spelling. It isn’t the best spell-checker (no capitalization, punctuation, or grammar errors are caught) but it is better than nothing. When the checker leaves you with a word highlighted in yellow, right click it for suggestions.
It only makes sense that Gmail would have a way that users can sort emails by date, but that doesn’t mean they have to make it easy to find. Still, once you know how to reorder your inbox by oldest or newest first, it is an easy enough way to do it. I hope this article has given you new and helpful ways to manage your Gmail inbox. Thanks for reading!