What is the archive button for in Gmail?

One of the great features of Gmail is that it has its own little archiving area. This might be a little confusing to Gmail beginners though, so let’s walk through this together. The archive feature does not mean that Gmail keeps all your e-mails forever and ever and never gets rid of them. If you have that thought, it’s completely misconstrued.

The Archive button is located in your Inbox view and when you click on it, all it does is remove that e-mail message from your Inbox. That’s pretty much, plain and simple, what it does.

It’s basically a way to help you organize your e-mail a little better. Now, you may be wondering where the message goes after you click the Archive button. Well, it depends on if you applied a label to that particular e-mail or not. If you did, it is taken to the appropriate label folder. It can also be seen in the All Mail folder. If you didn’t create a label for it, it can only be seen in the All Mail section.

Now, let’s go back a little. When you receive an e-mail in your Gmail account, it is automatically assigned an “Inbox” label. It will be that way until you change it to something else. You won’t see this label while the message is still in the Inbox, but it is there nonetheless. But, if you archived that message without creating a label, you will see “Inbox” next to the message just in the All Mail view. It’s all done this way just so you can keep track of the different e-mails in the different Label folders, as well as, in the All Mail folder. It helps you remember what you’ve archived and what you haven’t.

To test this out for yourself, go to your Inbox and choose any e-mail message and label it, but don’t archive it. Now, go to the view of the label you applied to it and look through the message listing. You will see both the label you applied and the Inbox label that was already assigned to it. These are also visible in the All Mail folder.

Now, go back and pick another message, label it and this time, archive it. Then go to your label viewing and see the message listing. You will see the label you just created for it, but you won’t see the Inbox label. Archiving a message simply takes away that Inbox label so it won’t show up in the Inbox view anymore. This way, you know you have archived it, because you won’t ever see it in your Inbox again.

If you would like to undo an archive, you can go to the message you saved, click on the More Actions link and then click on Move to Inbox. It will then go back to your Inbox and everything you did will be reversed. It’s good to know you can always go back and redo things in case you mixed something up. The archive button in Gmail has good uses to help keep all of your e-mail straight. Give it a try and go to archive heaven!

For more help with labels, check out this tip.

~ Erin