How to Get to Inbox Zero On Gmail

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Your parents never told you this, but one of the most satisfying moments of adulthood is when check your inbox and it shows zero unread messages. The salt-the-earth way to reach that goal is to manually check and delete each email you receive, but nobody wants to do that. An alternative would be to mark all of the existing messages as "read" so that the judgmental little number goes away and you can start from scratch...kind of. For most mobile and web apps, the process is pretty self-explanatory (Select All, then click "Mark All As Read"), but as the Houston Chronicle explains, Gmail users have to take a few more steps.

When using Gmail on a computer (or in desktop mode on a device):

  • Open the site as usual and navigate to the Inbox if it is not the default.
  • In the search field at the top of the page, type the words "label:inbox is:unread" and hit Enter.
  • The "More" dropdown menu above your emails should now say "Mark All As Read," but it can only process up to 100 at a time.
  • Instead, go to the "Select" box (just below the search field and to the left), and click it to select all of the shown messages.
  • Gmail will then show you a message above the emails that reads "Select all conversations that match this search." Click on that.
  • Now go back to the "More" dropdown and choose the "Mark All As Read" option. Select "OK," and you're done.

Unfortunately, things are not that easy when it comes to the Gmail App on Android and iOS devices. Mobile app users have found that the option to select all unread messages to perform bulk actions simply does not exist. The only alternative is to select each message individually first, and then use the "Mark As Unread" button, but with hundreds or thousands of unread emails, that can be a daunting task.

So mobile users either have to sign onto a computer and follow the method above, or wait and hope that the feature is added in the near future.