How To Archive and Unarchive Emails in Gmail

When your Gmail gets crowded with emails, you can delete the oldest ones, but you won’t be able to review them in the future if needed. Archiving old emails is perhaps the best thing to do because you can unarchive them later if you need them.

How To Archive and Unarchive Emails in Gmail

Learn how to archive your emails in Gmail and how to get them back in the article below.

Archive Emails in Gmail

You can delete the emails you are confident you won’t need in the future and archive those you might need for any reason. Emails with codes, passwords, sensitive information, and so on can be archived with just a few clicks, but it is always best to delete those messages. However, save them (as PDFs, perhaps) elsewhere outside of Gmail, such as in an encrypted folder.

Location of Archived Emails in Gmail

All archived emails disappear from the “Inbox” folder and get moved to the “All Mail” folder, where you can access them whenever you want. The only drawback is that they get mixed with everything else and can be challenging to find. This scenario is because Gmail does NOT have an “archive” folder or label. Below, you’ll find a trick that solves your sorting issues.

Note: If you receive a new reply to an archived email in Gmail, the message automatically gets placed back into the “Inbox” folder.

How to Archive Emails in Gmail

Creating some room in your “Inbox” folder allows you to find critical/essential emails easier. So, when you want to archive some emails you don’t need at the moment, you can easily archive them and view them in the “All Mail” folder. However, since they mix with all other messages, there is a workaround to separate them from the rest. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Log into your “Gmail” Account.
  2. In the left navigational menu, scroll down and click on “More.”
  3. Scroll down once more and select “Create new label.”
  4. Type a folder name to represent your archives, but do NOT choose a parent folder. This step creates a folder to store your archives before you archive them so they are easy to find later.
  5. In the left navigational panel, scroll down and select the “All Mail” folder. This folder/label displays every message in your account no matter where they reside.
  6. Click on “” (Select/Unselect box) next to each message you want to relabel/move. If you mess up, simply click it again to unselect it.
  7. Click on “” (Labels icon) at the top. “Move to” is NOT an option here because it deletes the emails from the “Inbox” folder.
  8. In the “Labels” menu, uncheck all boxes to start fresh. If there is a “minus” in a box, click it twice to uncheck it. Do NOT click on “Apply” yet.
  9. Check off “Inbox,” then check the box for “Archives” or whatever you called the folder. If there is a “minus” in the folder’s box, click on it to change it to a checkmark, then click on “Apply” when finished.
  10. Gmail returns to your “All Mail” folder. Each email from the previous step now shows two labels: “Inbox” and “Archives.”
  11. Check off the boxes next to each email you want to archive, then click on “” (Archive icon).
  12. The emails disappear from the “Inbox” folder but remain in the “Archives” folder. That’s why you kept “Inbox” checked and why you used labels instead of moving them. You’ll see the labels when in the “All Mail” folder.
  13. In the “Archives” folder, confirm that the emails got archived by hovering over each one. The “Archive icon” on the far right of each message is grayed out (lighter gray) if archived, and it won’t show the hand when over it.

In the process above, you created an archive folder to store your archivable emails, labeled each email to “Inbox” and “Archives,” manually archived them, and can view them in the “Archives’ folder for easy retrieval. Using “Move to” is not an option because it removes the email from the “Inbox” folder. That’s why you have to use labels instead.

Once you have the “Archives” folder added, you can use it for future needs. Just don’t forget to use labels instead of the “Move to” option or it won’t work.

Your selected emails now appear in the “Archives” folder, ready to unarchive if you need them, as discussed below.
You won’t have to sort through a bunch of emails to find the archived ones since they got stored in your “Archives” folder. As previously mentioned, new replies also unarchive emails.

How to Archive All Gmail Emails or in Bulk

You can archive any or all of your emails with a few simple clicks. Your Inbox becomes empty, but the cluster of emails will still look confusing in the “All Mails” folder, so try to delete the ones you are sure you won’t need before you start archiving. You also have the option to create a backup folder for easy viewing later, as referenced as “Archives” above, then use it before archiving any emails.

You can customize what to archive by using the dropdown options next to the “Select All” box. Choose read or unread emails, starred, or even unstarred if desired. Here is what you have to do to archive all of your emails together or in bulk:

  1. Click on the “” (Select/Unselect Dropdown icon) at the top, above all emails.
  2. Choose “All,” “Read,” “Unread” “Starred,” or “Unstarred” depending on what you want to archive.
  3. Once all of your emails are selected, click the “” (Archive icon), and all of your emails will transfer to the “All Mail” folder.
  4. Click “OK” when the bulk confirmation window appears.

All of your chosen emails now appear in the “All Mail” folder and no longer show in the “Inbox.” You can opt to create an “Archives” folder like in the other section above before following the steps here, then all bulk-archived emails become easy to find later.

How to Unarchive Emails in Gmail

You can return any archived email back to the original folder at any time. Follow these steps to do that:

  1. If you transferred all archived emails to a folder first, go to that folder to view them. If not, then scroll down the left navigational menu and select “More,” then open the “All Mail” folder.
  2. Select the emails you want to unarchive, then click on “” (Move to icon).
  3. Choose “Inbox” from the list of folders.

Now, all of the emails you have selected return back to the “Inbox” folder.

Archive Emails on Mobile Devices

You can archive emails from your mobile devices too. The process is very similar to the one above, and it works for both iOS and Android devices. Here is what you have to do:

  1. Open the “Gmail” app on your smartphone or tablet.
  2. Open the “All Mail” folder to see everything, then check the “circle” next to each email you want to archive or tap it again to unselect it.
  3. If you created an “Archives” folder first, like in the previous sections above, tap on “” (Options icon) at the top. Otherwise, skip to “Step 7.”
  4. Select “Change labels” from the options list.
  5. Uncheck all the boxes, then check the “Inbox” and “Archives” labels. You want the emails stored in both folders.
  6. Open the “All Mail” folder to see everything, then check the “circles” next to each email you want to archive. They should show two labels: “Inbox” and “Archives.” You may need to rotate to landscape mode to see the labels.
  7. tap on “” (Archive icon) at the top to automatically archive the selected emails.
  8. Each selected email disappears from the “Inbox” folder. If you created an “Archives” folder and labeled the emails as such, they remain in the “Archives” folder for future reference.

The emails you have selected now appear in the “All Mail” folder and remain in the newly created “Archives” folder if you chose that option beforehand.

How to Unarchive Emails Using the Gmail App

  1. Open the “Gmail” app on your smartphone or tablet.
  2. In the left navigational menu, scroll down and select the “All Mail” folder and choose the emails you want to unarchive. You can also select the “Archives” folder if you created one and view only the archived emails.
    mobille all mail
  3. If the email was archived, tap on “” (Options menu) and select “Move to Inbox” from the list. If the listed option is not present, the email is not archived.
    mobile unarchive

The emails you have selected will now re-appear in the “Inbox” folder and become unarchived.

In closing, some emails are more important than others, so it’s only natural that you want to save them for future use. You’ve read how to archive emails while still keeping a backup, and how to do it on both PC and mobile devices. You created a backup folder called “Archives,” labeled emails for “Inbox” and “Archives,” archived the chosen emails, and have access to them in the “Archives” folder rather than sifting through the “All Mail” folder. You are now ready to manage your emails, and you won’t have to worry about an overflowing inbox.

One thought on “How To Archive and Unarchive Emails in Gmail”

Dee says:
When I swipe an email to delete on my Android, it automatically Archives it. I just want it gone. Is there a way to do this?

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