gmail inboxGmail’s built-in spam protection system is no-doubt smart at spotting junk messages but it can sometimes become a little over-protective and may mark even legitimate emails as spam. It is therefore necessary that one should always scan the junk folder manually* for any important messages before emptying it.

[*] if you delete an email that has been marked as spam in Gmail, the message is not moved to trash but is deleted forever and there’s no way to recover it.

Find Important Messages in Gmail’s Junk Folder

Like everyone else, I get a few hundred spam messages in my Gmail Inbox everyday and it can take quite a bit of effort (and time) to sift through so many spam messages every single day to find a couple of legitimate emails. There’s however a simple Gmail search filter that helps me in the scanning process.

in:spam to:me "Hello Amit" OR "Hi Amit" OR "Dear Amit"

Let me explain.

The in:spam rule will search for emails that are in the spam or junk folder of Gmail. The to:me rule will filter emails that have my email address in either the To: or CC: field.

Now the interesting part. When you get an email from a contact, chances are that the other person is using some sort of greeting or salutation with your name in the message body which, if you are communicating in English, could be an Hi, Hello, Howdy, Dear or Hey.

So the third part of our search filter includes all these possible greetings with you first name or even your nickname to filter emails from close friends and family members. Put them inside double-quotes and separate each of these combinations with an OR operator (it should be in upper case else the filter won’t work).

This search filter may not find every legitimate message hidden inside Gmail’s spam folder but you may still find it handy in situations where there are thousands of messages in the spam folder and it becomes virtually impossible to scan the whole list manually.