Mark emails you have replied to in Gmail in your inbox

Add the feature you always wanted to Gmail - mark replied to messages

Gmail tips - tip tips for getting more from Gmail

When you look at the email messages filling your Gmail inbox, how can you tell which ones you have replied to? This is a problem, a serious problem that needs an answer. There is one fortunately.

When you are dealing with dozens of emails a day you tend to focus on the important ones first and those that are less urgent tend to be ignored, at least temporarily. You can deal with them later, you say to yourself.

After a few days you might have time to catch up on those emails and when you look at your inbox you can’t tell which ones you have dealt with and replied to. There just isn’t any way to tell in Gmail.

Some email software does tell you which messages have been replied to, but Gmail doesn’t. It is a feature that should be added.

Search for emails

There are a couple of potential solutions to the problem and one is to list all messages to and from a contact. Let the mouse hover over a person’s name in the inbox listing and a contact card is displayed after a second or two.

Click the Emails link on this card and a custom filter is automatically entered into the search box and Gmail lists all the email messages from and to the contact. You can see if you recently replied to them.

 View contact details in Gmail

This method is fine for one contact, but you would not want to perform custom searches on every message in your inbox. It is just too time consuming and requires too much effort.

Customise the stars

Using stars is a better method, but first they need customising. Go to the gear icon in the top right corner and select Settings on the menu.

 Go to Settings on the gear menu in Gmail

On the General tab, scroll down until you see Stars. There are two lists – In use and Not in use. Click and drag some symbols from the Not in use list to the In use list like this. Then scroll down to the bottom of the page and click Save.

 Gmail settings, select the stars to use

Return to the inbox and your list of email messages. When you reply to an email, click the star in the second column. It changes to the first symbol in the In use list. Click it again and it changes to the second, then third and so on.

Here is a symbol you can use to indicate that an email has been replied to:

 Mark emails that have been replied to

It is the second item in the In use list (in the list I created, yours may be different), so clicking once adds a star then clicking again turns it into a Sent Email icon. OK, that’s a made up name. The point is that you can use any of the symbols to represent anything you want. I use this symbol to represent a replied-to email and it is as good as any.

It is not quite perfect and the problem with it is that it is not automatic. It relies on you clicking the star symbol after replying to a message. However, it does work and you can glance down the messages in the inbox and instantly see which ones you have replied to.

Have you found a better way to mark the messages you have replied to?



  1. Thank you very much for these instructions! This is the best system I have seen so far, and it only requires a click (since I can move my preferred “replied” icon to be the first one). The only other suggestions I have seen involve creating new labels, which will show on the future replies but not on the original message (the one I replied to!) Not useful! Thank you again. This is exactly the visual I needed to create.

  2. Yes, thank you for the suggestion! Can’t believe a major email program doesn’t have that feature built in. I set the >> as my first star also, and it works perfect (albeit with my intervention). Maybe the next update?

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