A Venture Capitalist’s E-Commerce Shopping List

By Sergio Monsalve, TechCrunchSeptember 29, 2012 at 10:00PM

Niren Shah - Norwest Venture Partners

Editor’s note: Sergio Monsalve is a Partner at Norwest Venture Partners where he is focused on early and growth investments in the digital media, mobile, and social areas. Follow him on Twitter

E-commerce is one of the fastest-growing sectors in technology and is poised to get even hotter, with sales expected to double between 2010 and 2015, according to eMarketer. So how can discerning investors find the most promising opportunities? They have to first take off the rose-colored glasses.

While innovative, fast-growing e-commerce companies abound, many of them will not succeed in the long run. For all the opportunity, it remains extremely difficult to build a great e-commerce company that truly and repeatedly delights the consumer.

At Norwest Venture Partners (NVP), we’ve been shopping in the e-ommerce market for years. The companies that rise to the top of our list have one thing in common: an obsessive focus on the consumer lifecycle, which can be measured and managed in many ways. For me, it boils down to four key elements that I refer to as the 4 A’s: Awareness, Activation, Addiction, and Amplification.

Amazon.com exemplifies the 4 A’s cycle. In 1994 Amazon began offering readers a much larger selection of books than would ever fit on the shelves of local bookstores. The startup gradually improved and extended customer experiences and engagement as it expanded far beyond the book realm. Massive brand loyalty turned Amazon into the world’s largest online retailer, a household brand, which benefits from loyal customers praising it in online and offline social conversations.

The Cycle Begins: Awareness

The cycle starts by using a variety of channels to expose prospective customers to your brand, attract them to your e-commerce site, and get them to revisit and start to engage. These channels may include direct marketing (e-mail, direct mail, catalogs, etc); search-based advertising and marketing; social networks; and mobile technologies. The precise mix is dictated by the habits of the target audience and can generate powerful cross-channel synergies.

Tracking visitors, Monthly Active Users (MAU) and monitoring social chatter can measure awareness. If you can, give pre-purchase users enough reason — such as a delightful digital experience — to Facebook Connect, comment, register or log in on subsequent visits. You can collect more detailed statistics implicitly and/or explicitly and propel users to the activation stage.

Activation and Engagement

The Activation stage starts with a transaction. Consumers will purchase something, and perhaps register for future interactions. First-time impressions are critical, so obtaining feedback on the product and the entire experience at this stage is critical. Tools such as the Net Promoter Score can measure satisfaction levels and start separating out your evangelists from your detractors.

Tactics that can distinguish your site at this stage include unique merchandising, a superior user interface, more granular personalization, seamless accommodation of mobile devices, and streamlined logistics.

Revel Touch is a company that fosters activation by extending a retailer’s footprint to the fast-growing iPad channel. It also helps lead into the addiction phase by turning a retailer’s website into an app that can be as sticky and engaging as a game.

Addiction and Loyalty

You reach the Addiction stage when you have captured some significant mind share. You get a high level of repeat purchases from your customers, and your site becomes the first thing they think of when they want to buy something in the category or occasion your brand represents.

Apple can boast a very addicted customer base, the foundations of which pre-date the web. When Apple releases a new iPhone, legions of passionate evangelists are ready to tout it. An addicted customer base is ready and willing to be engaged, with e-mail campaigns, contests, games, and links from social sites. At this stage it is important to measure everything in the sales funnel, quantify delight factors, and keep a close eye on customer service metrics.

As customers get more addicted, you will see increases in purchases-per-buyer ratios and average order values. There are also mind-share metrics that help you measure brand loyalty.

Creating a personalized connection with each customer is critical to the Addiction phase. Companies like Certona, SailThru, and MyBuys that create personal recommendations and promotions can help boost loyalty and build devotion.

Amplification and Social Spread

Once you have established a cadre of addicted evangelists, they will start promoting and amplifying your brand to others. If you track and further engage with your best customers and empower them via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Extole, Kenshoo and other social tools, they can amplify your message endlessly.

You can increase evangelist impact in the Amplification stage by making effective use of social media measurement and marketing tools. Other Amplification tactics include personalized offerings, incentives that encourage social sharing, and tell-a-friend campaigns. Good customer testimonials are worth their weight in gold at this stage.

Key metrics for the Amplification stage include buyer/sharer ratios; a traffic mix that is increasingly organic; lower customer acquisition costs; higher repeat purchases; Net Promoter customer loyalty scores; and viral coefficients. Ultimately, a delightful service with a high measure of evangelists and low level of detractors should translate into higher Awareness, beginning the cycle again at the first A for a new wave of customers.

Fab.com has nailed Amplification with a product feed that ties directly to a consumer’s social graph. Built to be extremely social, the amplitude is that company’s most valuable asset.

The Wow Factor

The 4 A’s cycle hinges on delighting customers, and just what constitutes customer delight varies from one e-commerce brand experience to another. What makes your product — or how you sell it — stand out?

Zappos sells products that are quite ordinary and uses massive availability and no-hassle returns to delight customers. Zappos offers the same brands at roughly the same prices, but carries most sizes and widths. You will find what you want. Zappos also removes some of the risk of online shopping, by offering a very friendly returns policy and great service.

Another great example is Gemvara in the jewelry category. Gemvara delights you with customized products that don’t exist until you create them, and engages you with enjoyable virtual renderings of inspiring jewelry that exists nowhere else.

ModCloth sifts through the fashion universe and carefully curates vintage and retro-inspired clothing. You don’t know what you will find, but you know it will be on-trend and beautiful.

E-commerce has undergone massive changes since Amazon first opened its virtual doors in 1994, and there is no sign that the transformation is abating. This continuing disruption favors agile startups that deeply understand and obsessively measure their unique 4 A’s of the consumer lifecycle: Awareness, Activation, Addiction, and Amplification.

With each turn of the cycle, the customer base increases rapidly while customer acquisition costs drop and the lifetime value of each customer goes up. The result is a high-worth and durable e-commerce brand that scales and delivers high profits.

10 iOS 6 ‘How-to’ Tips You Need to Know For Your iPhone, iPad, Or iPod Touch

By Bakari Chavanu, MakeUseOfSeptember 28, 2012 at 08:30PM

Ios6When you install iOS 6 on your iPhone or other iOS device, you won’t see any changes to the user interface, but there are a few new apps and several new features under the hood that will make your device a lot more handy to use.

In addition to a new Maps app with turn-by-turn voice navigation, you also get Facebook integration throughout the iOS, the ability to share selected photos in your Photo Stream; preset voicemail replies, FaceTime over your cellular network, and several new handy features for the iOS camera, Mail, Safari, Find My Phone. In fact Apple claims over 200 new features are included in the new update. You can get an overview of them here, but let’s explore some of the best tips for quickly getting up and running with iOS 6.

iOS 6 is fully supported on the iPhone 4S, the third generation iPad, the 4th generation iPod Touch, and the soon to be released iPhone 5. It also supports the iPhone 4 and the iPad 2, but these two devices do not include Siri, FaceTime on 3G or 4G. The iPhone 3GS will support iOS 6, but it will not include several features and apps, including Siri, Photo Streaming sharing, FaceTime on 3G, Offline Reading list, and hearing aid support. You can download and install iOS 6 wirelessly on your device (Settings app > General > Software Update) or via a wired iTunes connection.

Ios6 devices

VoiceMail Replies

After you get  iOS up and running, launch the Settings app and tap open the Phone settings, followed by “Reply with Message.” This handy little feature enables to you send preset messages when someone calls, but you can’t or don’t want to  answer.

Ios6 2

You can of course customize the preset messages; for example: “Sorry, working, will call you later.” When you receive a call, you will need to slide up the phone icon handle to reveal the “Reply with Message” and “Remind Me Later.”  You can choose your options from there.

Photo Stream

Now in Photo Stream you can select photos and share them directly from your supported device. To do this, tap the Photo Stream icon in the bottom menu bar; tap “My Photo Stream” and then the Edit button at the top-right. Select the photos you want to share, and tap the Share button at the bottom.

Hardware software

Tap the Photo Stream button to share your selected photos with other people. When you share with someone who is also running iOS 6 and iCloud, your photos will show up in their Photo Library or iPhoto app, after they approve the import. Those not running iOS 6 will receive a link to your selected photos posted online via your iCloud account. From there, they can download your photos.  You will need to enable Public Website sharing from within Photo Stream. The link to your photo pages can be shared anywhere.

VIPs in Mail

The Mail app in iOS 6 has inherited the VIP feature, first released in Mountain Lion. This feature enables you to select contacts as VIPs, each of whom will get a special smart folder where all their emails will be collected.


To assign a contact VIP status, tap on his or her From address in an email, and then the next window tap “Add to VIP.” Your VIPs will show up under Mailboxes in your Mail app. However, the only drawback is that you will get all the messages sent by a selected contact, not just their new mail.


Insert Photo or Video

Also in Mail, you can now import/insert photos or a video from within a Mail message, instead of having to export selected content from your Photos Library. To add a photo to an email, press down briefly with your index finger on an empty spot in your email, and then left your finger to bring up the pop-up menu bar. From there, tap on the right arrow and select “Insert Photo or Video.” The contents of your Photo library will pop up. You can add one photo or video at a time to your email. It’s probably best not add more than one video to a mail message.

Ios6 19

Do Not Disturb

Though the Notifications feature was a big deal when first released, many iOS users now often find it nuisance when they get too many notices at in appropriate times. In the new update, when you go into the Settings app and turn off notifications completely, or you tap the Notifications > Do Not Disturb, you can schedule a time for when you don’t want to receive calls and alerts.


Furthermore, you can make exceptions for selected contacts in your Contact book, and also allow for Repeated Calls to your phone. This is very useful if you often get calls and alerts while sleeping or in a meeting.

Managing Your Privacy

Also in the Settings app, Apple has placed all your privacy settings in one place, so you can know which apps are accessing data on your phone. Tap on Privacy to find out which app has requested access to say your photos, Twitter and Facebook accounts, your current location, Calendar, Reminders, or Contacts. This is where you can disable and enable access to particular apps. With iOS 6, Apple now requires developers to get permission to access your data.

Iphone privacy

Shoot Panoramas

For us shutterbugs, Apple has added a feature for taking panorama shots. Now you can shoot large group and scenic photos in one single shot of mainly non-moving subjects. To do so, launch the Camera app, tap on the Options button and select Panorama.


Frame your shot and hold the iPhone or iPod touch steady; tap the shutter button,  and pan continuously to capture the subject. When you reach the end of your panning, tap the exposure button again. Voila, you get a nice smooth panorama in one shot.

More Siri Commands

As expected, Siri now includes even more commands—from getting sports stats and finding local movie time listings, to actually telling it launch apps. You can even have Siri setup reservations at an elegant restaurant. Learn more about Siri commands here.

Features siri

Safari Features

iOS Safari also received some enhancements. You can now save web pages in the Reading List for offline reading. So say your iPad doesn’t have cellular connection, you can save pages for later reading without needing an internet connection.

With the latest Safari, you can also access web pages open on your other devices. So say you’re reading an MUO review on your Mac, and you want to pick up the reading on your iPhone or iPad. Simply tap on the Cloud icon at the top of iOS Safari and it will display a list of opened tabs from your other devices.

Features safari

Turn-by-Turn Navigation

In iOS 6, Apple ditched Google Maps and replaced it with its own navigation system. Now you have free default turn-by-turn voice navigation system to give you directions from point A to point B.

Maps heroGetting directions is very similar to the old Map. When you’re ready for directions, simply tap the Start button. The design makeover of the Apple Map is a lot cleaner and visually appealing.

Find My Phone

Under iOS 6, Find My Phone now includes Lock Mode, which enables you to remotely locate and lock your phone or other Apple device and send a contact message that will be displayed on the locked screen of your device. You can send a contact message by signing into your iCloud.com account, and selecting the Find My Phone icon on the Home page.


You can also use the Find My Phone app on other your iOS devices. Your lost device however must be be shut down in order for Find My Phone to work. You should definitely bookmark the iCloud site and know the steps to locate your device in case of an emergency. Find My Phone can also be used on Mac laptops and desktop computers.


One of the two new default default apps you will see in iOS 6 is Passbook, which is for storing supported travel boarding passes, movie tickets, store coupons, and loyalty cards. When you launch the app, it takes you to the App Store where you select and download the supporting apps to your iPhone. From there, cards and tickets will be added to your Passbook when you register for loyalty cards or purchase movie tickets, for example.

Passbook overview

iOS includes lots of other features including Facebook integration, improved Accessibility features, FaceTime access over cellular networks and location-based alerts in the updated Find My Friends app—just to name a few.

Let us know what iOS 6 features you find most useful, and which features you think could use some improvements.

10 Excellent iPad Apps For School

By Dave LeClair, MakeUseOfSeptember 28, 2012 at 03:01PM

We are seeing more and more iPads in schools. They offer all kinds of possibilities for new ways to teach students. Because they are so portable, it is much easier for students to bring them anywhere they go, and bring the learning with them. The iPad is even useful for young students because of its intuitive, easy to understand user interface. Almost anyone can pick one up and know exactly how to use it.

Of course, the device on its own is not much of an education tool. You need apps. Sure, you can use Maps to learn a little geography and Notes to jot down some thoughts, but you really need to download some of the amazing third-party apps out there to make the most out of your iPad. Today, I am here to show you some of the very best iPad apps for students. With these apps, students will become mobile learning machines, ready to soak up knowledge anywhere they go.


Evernote is perfect for students because they can take notes and sync them with other devices such as their iPhone or computer. It supports audio and pictures as well, so students can capture all the crucial information from class.


Skitch is the perfect app for annotating photos. It is part of the Evernote family, so it will sync with Evernote accounts automatically. If you are a visual learner, taking photos and annotating them with pivotal information can be the perfect solution to absorb information, and Skitch is the best app for performing such a function.


Dropbox is the most popular application for sharing files. It can be a great way for the tech-savvy teacher to have their students submit assignments. Simply have your students copy school work to a shared Dropbox folder and the teacher will be able to get access to them in an instant. Dropbox can also be a good way for a student to keep track of their important papers and sources in one place that they can use anywhere.


I recently went on record calling Wunderlist the best to-do list app on iPhone. Well, the same holds true for iPad. It is a simple application that will help students keep track of their busy assignment load. It can be hard to remember everything you need to accomplish as a student, and Wunderlist makes this a lot easier.

Dragon Dictation

This is the best application for speaking into your iPad and having it magically spit out text. If you have a student who hates writing, this app might make them more willing to do their work. Of course, students should still learn to type properly, as dictation will not always be around, but it can certainly help lighten the load a little.


No one, and I mean no one, likes doing a works cited page on a paper. You spend all those hours crafting a written masterpiece, only have to spend as much time as you spent writing citing sources. Thankfully, the iPad app EasyBib takes the pain out of the process by allows you to simply scan a barcode and get all the important source information instantly. It supports APA, MLA, and Chicago style. It is a must have app for the student who has to write papers.


I feel like I do not really need to explain this one too much. It is from Dictionary.com. It defines words, which is generally useful for students.


This is a great application for mind mapping, which is a popular brainstorming technique. It uses a simple drag around interface that even younger students can understand. When trying to organize and come up with ideas for a paper, this app is absolutely necessary.

Wolfram Alpha ($1.99)

Wolfram Alpha is the single greatest app ever made for the student struggling with math. Once you learn the tricks for entering formulas, it can solve almost anything. The catch is a student can become reliant on it, and not learn how to solve the problems for themselves. It can be helpful in a pinch, but remember, you probably will not have an iPad with the Wolfram app installed when you take a test.

Evernote Peak

This app takes advantage of the iPad’s SmartCover. You create your own flashcards using your Evernote account, and then fold up the lowest section of the SmartCover to see the question. Fold a little higher and you will see the answer. This is a fantastic application for those last minute study sessions.


Armed with these ten apps, students can expect to take their education game to the next level. Of course, there is a lot of hard work involved in school, and no app is a magic solution to do away with that work, but these apps can certainly help streamline the school process a little.

Google Launches FieldTrip, A Location-Aware App That Helps You Find Cool Stuff Around You

By Frederic Lardinois, TechCrunchSeptember 27, 2012 at 01:17PM


Google just launched FieldTrip, a new location-based app that, as the company says, is meant to be “your guide to the cool, hidden, and unique things in the world around you.” Just like Google Now can show you location-based information on Android 4.1, FieldTrip runs in the background and will automatically show you a card with relevant information as you walk around. The app, says Google, “can help you learn about everything from local history to the latest and best places to shop, eat, and have fun.” FieldTrip is currently only available for Android (2.3+), but the developers say that an iOS version is “coming soon.”

The product was developed by NianticLabs, a small group inside of Google that, according to the New York times, specializes in building location-based and social mobile apps. Talking to the New York Times, NianticLabs’ John Hanke said that “the idea behind the app was to build something that would help people connect with the real, physical world around them.”

The data is sourced from publication like Thrillist, Food Network, Eater, Cool Hunting, Arcadia and Google’s own Zagat. These, says Google, will “help you uncover hidden gems no matter where you are.” Users can choose how often they want to alerts and what topics they are interested in. Currently, the app focuses on architecture, historic places, lifestyle, food, drinks and “cool and unique” places.

For each one of these sections, users can choose the publications and information sources they want to include (so if you’re not a fan of Sunset Magazine, you can turn those alerts off, for example). You can also set FieldTrip up to read alerts out aloud when your phone is connected to a headset or in a car dock.

Interestingly, there is also an “offers and deals” section, which will show deals from Google Offers and Vayable’s selection of travel experiences. So far, Google hasn’t offered these kinds of ambient location-based alerts for deals in its own Offers app or through Google Now, but it’s clearly an area that could become very profitable for the company in the long run.

Here is a summary of the app’s highlights, according to Google:

★ Discover thousands of interesting places/experiences that fall under the following categories: Architecture, Historic Places & Events, Lifestyle, Offers & Deals, Food Drinks & Fun, Movie Locations, Outdoor Art and Obscure Places of Interest around you.

★ Choose from three different modes to set frequency of Field Trip notifications. See “Field Trip” worthy places around you on a map, by tapping on cards in map view to pull up enthralling points of interest around you.

★ Go on a Field Trip while you drive. Field Trip can detect when you’re driving and automatically “talk” about interesting places and experience around you.

★ Capture the memory of a special place, by sharing a wondrous discovery through email and social networks such as Google+, Twitter and Facebook.

★ Wondering where the gem that you recently discovered is? Find your discovered field trip cards in the “recent’ section.

★ Field trip learns what you love. Thumbs up or down to tune the information discovery engine.

How To Take Advantage Of Your Widescreen Apple Display [Mac OSX]

By Bakari Chavanu, MakeUseOfSeptember 26, 2012 at 06:31PM

widescreen apple tvI didn’t realize until I unpacked my 27″ iMac just how much screen real estate I had to work with. Sure, it looked large in the store, but opening numerous applications and windows on it, stretching out the Dock with more apps, and slightly tilting my head up to look at the menu bar made me realize even more just how much space I have to work with.

In this regard, if you’re new to the large screen Apple display, there are a handful of useful resources and built-in features you might want to take advantage of to get more out of your large monitor. With a larger display, you can either clutter up your desktop with too much stuff, or you can work more productively by viewing windows side-by-side, accessing menu bar items from anywhere on the screen, and dragging and dropping files with less hassle. Many of the tools I review are either free or low cost, and can be downloaded from the Mac App Store.

Point, Clicks & Gestures

One of the first features you should become familiar with on any Mac running Lion or Mountain Lion are the mouse and trackpad gestures built into the operating system. If you haven’t done so, open System Preferences in your Dock and click on the device (Mouse or Trackpad) you’re using. There you will find video instructions for all the hand gestures and clicking options available to you. With a large screen, these gestures can be very handy for navigating actions on your desktop.

widescreen apple tv

For example, Mission Control (under More Gestures) is very handy for working in a larger display when you have several apps and windows open at the same time. Using a three or four-finger gesture, you can reveal all the open windows on your desktop. Practice with all the gestures and clicks to see what is useful for your workflow.


A more advanced trackpad and mouse tool for navigating stuff on your screen is BetterTouchTool (a free download) which I wrote about here and here.

widescreen apple

BetterTouchTool is for Mac users who rely more on their trackpad or mouse than keyboard shortcuts. However, it also useful for the latter users as well. BetterTouch allows you to assign all kinds of gestures to dozens of actions you perform with keyboard shortcuts. For example, you can assign a three finger tap to quickly hide an application.

This tool can reduce the amount of times you have to move your cursor up the menu bar of an application or your large display. BetterTouchTool does take some time and effort to set up, so I only recommend it if you work at your Mac throughout the day.

Tile Windows Apps

With a larger display, you can be more productive by having application and Finder windows open side-by-side. So for example, as I type this article, I have my text editor open on one side, and the Mac App Store app open next to it. This way I can glance at the second window as I write.

widescreen apple

But it can sometimes be a hassle to resize windows when you’re trying to get work done. Many developers understand this and have created applications to help users quickly resize and manage windows.

If you’re new to these types of tools, you might start by downloading the free TileWindows Lite, which enables you to quickly half size a window and position it on the left or right side of your desktop, or make it full screen. The pro version of TileWindows ($7.99) provides a dozen more window organization options.

widescreen apple

BetterSnapTool ($1.99) is another low cost option, which enables you to resize windows by dragging and snapping them to the left, right, top or bottom of your screen. This way you can quickly share windows side-by-side and take full advantage of your screen real estate.

There are several other window management apps, including Split Screen ($0.99) to choose from. Take some time and research which one works best for you.

apple display tips


One of the biggest issues I encountered when I first started using my 27″ display was moving my cursor to the menu bar of applications including the Finder. Moving the cursor to the top of the screen is like a young kid taking down a box of cereal from the top of the refrigerator. With MenuPop ($4.99), that problem is solved. It enables you to access menu bar items using an assigned hotkey.

apple display tips

When activated, it opens an application’s menu right under your Mac’s cursor (I also created a BetterTouchTool action that enables me to tap with three fingers to activate my assigned hotkey).

Click & Drag

Another little quirk with large screens is dragging items from one side of the desktop to another. When you’re doing so with a mousepad, you can sometimes lose a grip on the file while dragging. Click and Drag ($0.99) is a little one-trick pony that enables you to move a file by clicking the caps lock key (when a file is selected) and then dragging that file without having to keep your thumb pressed down while dragging.

apple display tips

A similar, more costly, tool you might try is DragonDrop ($4.99), which enables to drop one or more files in a small pop-up window that opens when you quickly shake a selected file anywhere in your Finder. Those files remain in the window until you move them out to another location.

Desktop Groups

Even with the extra monitor space I have on my iMac, I still like to keep my desktop clear of unused files and folders. But one little app I’m demoing, called Desktop Groups ($5.99), enables me to park files in a transparent folder(s) anywhere on my screen, where they can be seen and retrieved when I need them.

Desktop groups

I have a group of files parked on the bottom-left side of my iMac that I want to temporarily remain there. All the other files and folders on the right side of my desktop get moved (by an application called Hazel) to my Junk Folder in my Finder after they have been there for three hours.

I like Desktop Groups for what it does, but the only drawback is that for now it leaves the source folder for parked files on the desktop. The developer is revising the app so that the source folder can be moved say to the Documents folder and the transparent group folder can remain on the desktop. He’s also adding other features (see pre-release screenshot below) to the update.

widescreen apple tv

Let us know what you think of these apps and tools, and share with us tips and and apps you use for widescreen Apple displays.

5 Advanced Gmail Search Operators You Should Know

By Tina Sieber, MakeUseOfSeptember 25, 2012 at 01:01PM

gmail search operatorsGmail is an ingenious webmail client with many awesome features. Being a Google service, one of its strengths obviously is Search. And this is exactly how Google revolutionized email. While every other email client focused on sorting emails, Google focused on what they do best. In Gmail you don’t really have to worry about filing or sorting emails because you an always find them in a matter of seconds using the Search.

While you will easily get to most emails with a plain keyword search, it does help to know some advanced Gmail search operators to quickly find very specific emails. This article highlights 5 advanced Gmail search operators. It goes without saying that the Gmail Search works almost exactly like Google Search. To construct a good search query in any Google service, it is beneficial to understand some basic rules. You can review a complete list of Gmail search operators on Gmail’s advanced search page and to learn more on how to write search queries, you can read this timeless article.

Search is one of the The 10 Best Features That Keep Me In Gmail and I have previously written about this feature in more detail. Note, however, that Gmail Search has been updated significantly since this last article was published.

The Basics of Gmail Search

Let me start off with some basics for those who are yet unfamiliar with Gmail Search. Those of you using Gmail will know the search bar in the very top. Have you ever bothered to click the little arrow in its very right?

gmail search operators

This is how you open Gmail’s search options, i.e. a form that offers basic search fields to fill in.

advanced gmail search

The form is a shortcut if you want to search in a specific folder/label, an email from or to a specific person, the email subject, or within a specific time frame. In most cases, using the form is much quicker than typing out the respective search operators.

Advanced Search Operators

Now that the basics are out of the way, let’s look at advanced operators that may come in handy.

1. filename:

The search form shown above let’s you search emails that have an attachment. Simply check the respective box in the form. The filename: operator is a more advanced way to search emails with attachments. You can pair it with any part of the file name, including the file type. So you could search for filename:london to search for any attachments that have the word london in the file name. Or you could search for filename:pdf to find any attachments that are PDF documents.

advanced gmail search

Do you find this operator interesting and would you like to know more? Then have a look at these articles:

2. after: & before:

Personally, I find the date within search option in the form shown above a little complicated. Thus I prefer to use the before: and after: search operators. Use them by themselves to search before or after a certain date and use them together to search a time frame.

advanced gmail search

3. in:anywhere

This operator may seem a little odd at first because wouldn’t you think that the Search is searching anywhere by default? Well, not quite. Per default, messages in Spam and Trash are excluded from search results. If, for some reason, you want to include emails in these folders, you can use the in:anywhere operator, followed by your keyword.

gmail search

By the way, the screenshot above reveals that Gmail Search is showing actual email content in auto-complete. Good to know, right? Also see our update from May 2012 on this topic.

4. Search Starred Emails

This point is special since it doesn’t feature an advanced operator, but an advanced query. Using the has: operator paired with the respective star name, you can search emails starred with a specific star.

gmail search

Gmail offers up to 12 stars to highlight or star your email. Here is a complete list of the whole dozen:

  • yellow-star
  • yellow-bang
  • orange-star
  • orange-guillemet
  • red-star
  • red-bang
  • purple-star
  • purple-question
  • blue-star
  • blue-info
  • green-star
  • green-check

5. is:chats

The chat logs of your Gmail chat or GTalk are stored in the respective Gmail account. If you ever want to find a detail from one of your conversations, you can specifically search your GTalk logs using the is:chats operator, followed by the search term.

gmail search operators

In a similar fashion, you can also search in:circles.


Curiously, there used to be a search operator called language: or lang: that would allow you to find emails written in a specific language. This one must have been discontinued, since it is no longer working for me. Or does it work for you?

Which Gmail search operator do you find most useful or do you have no use for them at all?