How to build an email list from your Gmail account

One of GMass‘s most powerful features is the ability to build an email list just by searching your Gmail account. Search for any particular criteria, and then click the red magnifying-glass button, and GMass will pull the email addresses from the matching messages and launch a Compose window containing those addresses in the To field.

Then all you have to do is enter your Subject, Message, configure any GMass settings, and then hit the GMass button. A mass email campaign will then be sent to those addresses.

When you use the Build Email List button, GMass finds all the messages in your account that match the search criteria that is entered and pulls the email addresses from the From Line, To Line, the Reply-To header, and the Subject Line.

[Note: the “Build Email List” (red magnifying glassbutton only is shown when it is applicable, which is after you have done either a search, or have clicked on labels, either of which results in a specified subset of your Gmail emails being displayed. At other times, when it is not currently applicable, the button is not displayed.]

An Example Search

Let’s imagine you are the owner of the new business, Ted’s Tadpole Tanks, and have a personal Gmail account you’d like to use to send all those who have corresponded with you in any way about tadpole tanks to alert them all of your grand opening. We’ll use this example and provide a step-by-step guide to sending out this campaign; of course, substitute your own search term for your own business or personal events.

  1. Search for “tadpole” in Gmail. You’ve probably searched your email before, but for those who haven’t, here is a look at where you’d put this word and where you would click.
    Shows Gmail search window with "tadpole" in search box and user about to click Gmail magnifying glass.
    About to search for this keyword in Gmail.

    Tip: You’ll notice that Gmail will automatically offer you suggestions in the dropdown. Be sure to consider these occasionally, as it may reveal patterns in your email usage that could give you ideas for new email campaigns.

  2. When you click Gmail’s magnifying glass button to initiate a search, the following emails come up, all of which include the word “tadpole”, our search term:
    Shows Gmail with four rows of email that match the "tadpole" search term.
    Gmail has found four emails that match the “tadpole” search term.

    In this case, one was from a would-be customer, Jack Lovich, two were from your Ted’s Tadpole News newsletter to two different readers, and one was an email from you to a vendor. You could click on, for example, the first newsletter email and see it was to someone named Brandon Walsh.

    Reading email, showing recipient's name is Brandon Walsh.
    Opening this emailed newsletter shows it went to Brandon Walsh.

    In this example, the four recipients turned up by this search turned out to be: Jack Lovich <>, Brandon Walsh <,, and These are the people who in some way are connected to the term “tadpole” in your emails–and those who we want to reach out to.

  3. Now, click the “Build email from search” button.
    Showing the "build email from search" button about to be clicked.
    Clicking here builds an email recipient list from Gmail search results.

    –to cause GMass to create a new email using the email addresses found in your search.

    [Note: The emails that are displayed in Gmail after a search are found by Gmail using a slightly different search function than those that are found by GMass, which uses Gmail’s “programming interface” (also known as the Gmail API). This means that it is possible to unintentionally build a slightly different list of email recipients with GMass than what you see in the Gmail results. One way that can happen is your searched-for word has an “s” on the end of it. So, in this example, “tadpole” and “tadpoles”, if entered into Gmail’s search without the quotation marks and as two independent searches, will show the same search results in Gmail but might build two somewhat different GMass recipient lists. One way to assure that the email addresses from the emails you see in Gmail’s search results are the same ones you send to in Gmass is to put your search words in quotation marks.]

  4. GMass will now take a moment to build your list, and will indicate this with a yellow popup window.

    Shows Gmail compose window with an informative message bar from GMass, letting user know building the list will take a moment.
    GMass needs a moment to build the list, and tells you so in the yellow message area.
  5. When it is done, a new Gmail compose window is shown, with the email addresses pulled up from the Gmail search now populated into the To field:

    Shows Gmail compose window's To field with emails found in the search results
    GMass populated the Gmail’s To field with the email addresses found in the search.
  6. Now, simply compose your email to these recipients as you normally would.

    Showing Gmail compose window with a letter from Ted to his potential customers.
    Write your email as you normally would (of course, related to your search term).
  7. Then click the GMass button to send them each an individualized email.

    Cursor shown poised over the GMass button, ready to click.
    Ready to send out, just need to click GMass…
  8. Now let’s see what happened–let’s check the Sent Mail folder.

    Showing Gmail Sent folder with four new emails having been sent to recipients pulled up in the Gmail search.
    Four emails have been sent to the recipients pulled up from the Gmail search.
  9. Success! The four recipients from your search for “tadpole” have now each received an individual email regarding your store’s grand opening. Since two of the recipients were users of Gmail, their emails were even personalized–that is, they were addressed by their first name in the greeting.

Consider the searches you could perform…

The integration of Gmail’s search with GMass is very powerful since mail campaigns can start quickly from a simple search. For examples of keywords that you might use to create campaigns for your interests, businesses, hobbies, and other aspects of your life, consider:

  • “iPhone”, “iPad”, “Android”, etc.
  • the title of your new book, software, or game
  • The name of your shop, restaurant, or other local or online business.
  • The name of a group you’re part of that you’d like to write the members individually and send a personalized email.
  • A political name or term for a political interest you have and have corresponded with others about.
  • and others…

Tip: Gmail includes powerful search capabilities that lets you narrow down your messages to any subset you can imagine. It’s worth taking the time to master Gmail’s search function. Not only will you be able to use GMass more effectively, but it will make you a more productive email user as well.

[Note: GMass will search a maximum of 5,000 messages for email addresses. If you enter a search term(s) that results in more than 5,000 matching messages, only the most recent 5,000 messages will be used to find email addresses.]

Searching by Gmail Label

You can also click any Label in your Gmail account and Gmail will display just the messages under that Label.

For example, let’s imagine Ted has created a “TTT Customers” Label in Gmail for his Ted’s Tadpole Tanks business, and uses it to label emails either to or from people he identifies as customers. Here we see him about to click that Label on the left side of Gmail.

Showing Gmail label with user about to click label for TTT Customers.
About to click Gmail label for TTT Customers.

[Note: in some cases, the labels may be hidden under a gray line, shown here:

Showing part of Gmail window with labels mostly obscured under a line.
Labels are mostly not able to be seen, but they are under this gray line.

If so, just hover your cursor over that gray line and a new “drag” cursor will appear like this.

A partial Gmail window showing the cursor hovering over gray line has turned into a drag tool.
Drag down reveal Gmail labels below this point.

Now just click and hold, then move your mouse down to reveal any Labels you created, or drag up if you want to hide them.]

To build an email list from a label, using this example:

  1. Click the Label. This will bring you to a screen showing all of the emails that you have labeled as, in this case, TTT customers. Note also that the Label on the left is highlighted in red as TTT Customers.

    Showing Gmail window with list of emails that match the "TTT Customers" label.
    These are all the emails that were labeled as “TTT Customers”.
  2. Now, click the “Build Email List” (red magnifying glass) button.

    Showing Gmail window with user about to click the build email from search button.
    About to click the red magnifying glass.
  3. As before, GMass will process a moment and then will generate a list of all email addresses taken from emails labeled with that Label. Let’s see the resulting list, populated into the To field of a new Compose window.
A Gmail compose window with the To field populated with email addresses that matched the "TTT Customers" label.
Now all email addresses that were labeled as TTT Customers will be sent an email.

What’s nice about this option is that unlike with creating a mailing list based on a Gmail search, using Labels limits the mailing list only to those you have specifically tagged. In this example, the email address of “” used in the first example was not included in this email campaign, because that address was never labeled as a customer (because it belongs instead to a vendor). Labels, therefore, give an extra level of specificity that can allow you to make precision GMass campaigns.

This Build List from Label functionality is what also makes it possible to use GMass to send personalized mass responses to people who respond to Craigslist ads or other job ads. Of course, for this to work, you would have had to set up Gmail Filters to classify certain messages into particular Gmail Labels.

In the future, we’ll be publishing a series of tutorials on how to use Gmail as a full Applicant Tracking System, so that if you’re placing job ads on popular job boards like Indeed and ZipRecruiter, you can manage the responses and communicate with both your favorite and rejected candidates easily and in a personalized manner with GMass.

Email notifications sent to you by a transactional email system

If you receive any type of transactional email notification from your website upon certain events, where the email address of the user is in the Subject Line, then you can also use this feature to easily mass email those users.

For example, let’s say you get an email notification every time someone fills out a form on your website. Let’s look at what you’ll see in your Gmail Inbox.

Showing a Gmail window close up on three emails, all sent to you from your company's website.
Three emails received by you and sent from your website.

If you want to send an individual email to all of those people, just enter a Search criterion that pulls all of those email notifications and then click the “Build Email List” (red magnifying glassbutton. 

As an example, Ted’s website sends feedback from users to him as emails, each with “[Ted’s Tadpole Website]” in the subject line followed by the person’s email address. So let’s use the following search, shown in the search box, and see what it brings up in Gmail once we hit the Gmail search magnifying glass:

Shows Gmail window with three emails sent from the user's business website when found by a Gmail search.
Finding all emails automatically sent by the user’s business website.

Now, clicking the “Build Email List” (red magnifying glassbutton generates the following Gmail Compose window, with the To field populated with the three email addresses of those who left Ted feedback on his website.

Gmail compose window is shown with email addresses in To field taken from the emails that match the search term for Ted's website feedback.
A new Gmail Compose window with To field populated with email addresses taken from feedback emails from Ted’s website.


Occasionally you may run into an instance where you search for a particular criteria in the Gmail interface and a certain number of messages show up in the results, but then, when you use the GMass “Build Email List” button, not all of the email messages that are showing are actually used to build your list. This is because the Gmail interface is laxer in displaying search results than the Gmail API, which is the programmatic way GMass uses to build the list. Additionally, if you have “conversation view” turned ON in Gmail, as most Gmail users do, then when searching for something, the Gmail interface displays all matching conversations. A conversation may contain, for example, 10 emails, where only 1 of the 10 emails in the conversation actually matches the search criteria. In this case, using the GMass “Build Email List” button would only search the 1 matching message, not the other 9 in the conversation, even though those other 9 would display in the Gmail interface when searching.

If you encounter an issue where the resulting list contains fewer addresses than you’re expecting, try this workaround. After searching, select all the messages in Gmail and apply a new LABEL to those matching messages. Then, search for just that LABEL. If your new LABEL is called “Test123” for example, then search for “label: Test123”. The same messages should display and now use the GMass “Build Email List” button. The additional addresses that were missing before should now be found.


Using the “Build Email List” button is a great way to quickly and intuitively connect search with send. Searching is a natural “brainstorming”-related activity that may reveal subsets of people who you could contact about business, social, or other opportunities, and GMass now makes it trivially easy to then reach out to that group of people while still retaining the highly personal feel of an individual email–even a personalized one. 

        1. We had an issue with the Build email list function that has been resolved. Please contact our support team through if the problems still persist on your end.

  1. When I make a search and Try to buidl a email list I get this message:

    GMass is searching through your messages to build an email list. Please wait, this may take a minute…

    and after nothing

    How can i solve it? It was working well a few weeek ago

    1. We had an issue with the Build email list function that has been resolved. Please contact our support team through if the problems still persists on your end.

  2. I am having the same problem. It says “almost ready” then no list comes up. It worked a few months ago. Please advise. Thanks

      1. We had an issue with the Build email list function that has been resolved. Please contact our support team through if the problems still persists on your end.

  3. If I want the option for a user to subscribe to the email list through a subscribe option on my website, how is this accomplished?

    1. Hi Chey,

      You could create a “Zap” in Zapier to accomplish this by setting up a filter for the notification you receive in your email and adding the email address of the new subscriber to your email list in a Google Sheet. This way, new subscribers’ email addresses are added to the same email list which you can reuse for your newsletter being sent weekly/monthly/etc.

  4. We often use this approach to build a list of bounced email addresses, then we research new contact information for those bounced addresses. However, when we tried to use this approach today (8/14/2019) the “To:” field was only populated with a single email address that represented all 237 recipients:

    How can we see an actual listing of the email addresses of those recipients?

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