If you have too many emails in your Gmail account, it might finally be time to clean it up. You probably noticed last year when Google adjusted its Gmail storage policy, forcing users to take action.
Gmail users get 15GB of storage space for documents and pictures, shared between Drive, Gmail, and Photos. Although they can get “free” data in Photos, it’s over. You will have to delete the data, pay Google for additional file storage, or risk Google deleting the data.
We don’t want Google to delete your data. And the easiest way to do that is to clean your Gmail inbox and delete old emails.
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How to Quickly Delete Old Emails in Gmail
To do this, you need to be signed in to Gmail and using it in a browser on a Chrome, Mac, or Windows PC, or on an Android tablet or iPad. These commands may be available from a smartphone, but they are primarily designed for the web interface.
First, you need to know how much storage your email takes up. If you scroll down the Gmail page, you can see the space taken up by all your data, not just Gmail.
If you’re a Google One subscriber, your Google One storage page divides it between Gmail, Photos, and Drive. (Tip: You can block automatic Google Photos downloads to help manage your storage space.)
Now let’s start deleting.
The easiest way to remove spam from Gmail is to use Gmail’s built-in section tabs, which already filter emails into several sections: the Main tab (your main inbox), followed by Social, Promotions , Updates and Forums. The implicit message here is that Google already considers the email stored in your main tab as the one you really need; everything else can be sacrificed.
I usually delete anything under the “Promotions” tab first, because it’s almost, but not exactly, spam. Take one last look at a few pages, to make sure you want to do a full purge. (If you want to selectively delete the email, skip to the next section.)
To start the process, first click on the Promotions tab (the label will be colored instead of gray). Then, on the ribbon of icons above the tabs, click the little checkbox icon on the far left, like this:
This should highlight all the emails you can see on the first page of the “Promotions” tab, not all the ones you have in Gmail.
After you select emails on this page, Google confirms your selection and offers you the option to select all emails in the Promotions tab, if you click on the message highlighted in blue, as shown below:
You can then press the Delete key or click the little trash can icon in the top menu ribbon to delete all emails. You’ll get a small popup titled “Confirm Bulk Action”, warning you that “this action will affect all…conversations in your inbox” and asking if you want to continue. If so, click OK.
!! Congratulations!! All of your promotional emails have been deleted… more or less. Yes, your email has not completely disappeared yet. Gmail just moved it to the Trash, another of the categories accessible through the navigation path on the left. (Scroll down and click More to see Trash and Spam folders.) Click Trash to see all your deleted emails, pending deletion.
By default, Google gives you 30 days before automatically deleting emails that have been moved to the trash. This gives you 30 days to find and save an email you accidentally trashed, but it still doesn’t change your total Google One storage allowance.
(You can highlight the email(s) and click the little “Move to” folder icon to send them back to your inbox if you discover an email you want to save.)
If you want, you can click the Empty Trash Now message at the top of your email list in the Trash to delete all those emails, once and for all.
This will reduce your storage capacity, but there is no turning back. (Unfortunately, you can’t see how much storage space all that accumulated mail is taking up in your Trash folder.) Once you manually delete these emails, they’ll be gone forever.
Now you can decide if you want to delete emails from other Gmail tabs as well. I generally consider email notifications in my “Forums” folder consumable, and I tend to do the same with my Social tab as well. The “Updates” tab often hides messages from apps and other services I deem important, so I usually don’t delete those emails without noting and filtering them.
How to Filter Emails in Gmail
Filter, you say? Yes absolutely. Gmail’s search box, located at the top of the screen, does more than just search for keywords. You can use search filters for all sorts of things to help you weed out unnecessary emails, and Google lists a number of them on its Gmail search assistance page.
Below are some commands that are particularly useful for reducing the storage space used by your inbox. Simply type the bold text into the Gmail search box.
- Before: 04/18/2018 This returns all emails in the folder sent before April 18, 2018.
- old_than:2m This displays all emails older than two months. You can change the “m” to “y” (year) or “d” (day). Note that newer_than can also be used.
- has:attachment Any email with attachments.
- filename:pdf Any email with a PDF file attached.
- smaller: both size: and larger: can be used to search for messages whose size in bytes exceeds a certain size. In this case, you can use larger: 100 for a message larger than 100 bytes, or larger: 15M for a message larger than 15 megabytes.
- Others, like from:eliza (Eliza’s email) or is:important (for emails listed as important), may also be useful.
We hope these tools will help you keep your Gmail inbox much “cleaner” and more organized.