Zettelkasten Forum

Unique identifiers with email

Q: Is there a Gmail Labs or some sort of add-on that would give each email a unique identifier similar to the one that The Archive creates?

I use Alfred to create a timestamp for YYYY.mmdd.hhmm for everything on my hard drive and in Google Drive... It makes finding and drilling down things so much easier.

One can just type in 202109301009 and boom pdf or spreadsheet shows up in finder....it's like having an ISBN number for files. [I tend to use the format with periods.. e.g. 2021.0930.1009 since my brain reads this easier, and I can just type 2021.09 and find all files created in september of 2021]

If Gmail could do something like this automatic like The Archive, it would be so much better.
Q: Does anyone know of anything like this?

Many Thanks,


  • zk3zk3
    edited October 2021


    You can do something sort of like this using an email's globally unique message ID.

    Message ID's usually look something like slkf8329hslfjsdfl@example.com.

    One way to retrieve a given email's message ID in Gmail is to click on More (the three dots), then click in the menu on Show Original.

    There are also browser extensions to make this easier, e.g. Gmail message ID finder.

    Disclaimer: I cannot vouch for this extension. I don't use the Gmail web interface myself. I use Thunderbird and cbThunderlink.

    The important things is that you can search for an email by message ID in Gmail with the Rfc822msgid: search operator.

    In other words, given an email with the message ID randommessageid@example.com, we can enter rfc822msgid:randommessageid@example.com in the Gmail search bar to find it.

    Since this also yields a search url, we now have a formula for a link that we can put in our notes:

    https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#search/rfc822msgid%3A + <message ID>

    For our example, the link ends up looking like this:


    Even if Gmail were to change the search url syntax, you would still be able to retrieve the unique message ID embedded in the link, so this approach is at least somewhat future-proof.

    Even though it may be a bit ugly, this all works almost flawlessly.

    There is one caveat: The /mail/u/0/ portion of the link will differ slightly from account to account if you happen to be logged into multiple Gmail accounts at once. In that case, you might need to adjust the link to something like /u/1/or /u/2/ in order to match the the link to the account where a particular email is stored. Unfortunately (but by necessity) the number assigned to a given account is also not static across browser sessions, so you might need to manually adjust the url from time to time.

    Credit: https://webapps.stackexchange.com/questions/30297/how-to-link-or-share-an-email-in-gmail/66067#66067

  • This is exactly what I was looking for.
    Thank you zk3

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