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Wildcard search in Gmail


Not in general, no.

The Gmail search functionality works based on what I would describe as tokens. A token is any sequence of alphanumeric characters separated by a space or by other non-alphanumeric characters such as underscore, full stop (period), “@”, dash, etc.. So in peter.ford23@example.com there are 4 tokens: “peter”, “ford23”, “example” and “com”.

Wildcards within tokens do not work. Wildcards outside of tokens are unnecessary and misleading.

Imagine you wish to find messages from peter.ford23@example.com and tried these examples:


… would not work


… would work, but is misleading. It is no different from searching for “from:ford23”.

If you thought that Gmail was checking for the “@” symbol immediately after “ford23”, you could try this instead …


… should not work, but does!


One example given in another answer is


… but again, Gmail is inadvertently misleading us. The dash and asterisk characters have no effect. (You can remove them and then remove the brackets too. It’s the same as searching for “subject:jefferson”.) It would return an email with subject “meeting with jefferson.jones”.


… would not return an email with subject “jefferson-school”


… would not return an email with subject “jefferson-school”


There has been a suggestion that Perl regex can be used. I will not address that suggestion here, except to repeat that wildcards within tokens do not work (even using Perl syntax). And wildcards outside of tokens are unnecessary and misleading.


Disclaimer: For the sake of brevity I have used uncertainty-free language above. But I do not work for Google and I am not 100% sure of every claim in this answer. I do believe it is one of the best answers so far though. Google’s own Gmail search operators help page doesn’t mention wildcards.

You can use Perl regex in both the find and filters if you wrap it in a forward slash.


Will match everything from the hp.com domain.

It gets complicated very quickly because you have to escape certain characters.

Here’s one I use that matches multiple address and compresses several rules down to one:

Apply filter Media

That will label notification emails matching:


No, it is not possible. However, it depends on what you need it for. Gmail uses a very limited form of stemming based on whole words.

For example, let’s see if I can retrieve emails from phwd.lastname@gmail.com

from:phwd – works

from:pwhd.l – nope

from:phw – nope

So the closest you will get in this case is if the person was nice enough to cut their first name and last name by the period.

so phwdlastname@gmail.com will result in all of the above searches not working.

But say I was nice to fill out my contact information and have my display name as “phwd lastname” then I can at least retrieve it this way


from:"phwd lastname"

It sucks but at least we have Gmail Ninjas.

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