Since Gmail launched 18 years ago, many of us have collected a seemingly endless amount of emails from family, friends and business associates. Many of those thousands of emails involved baby photos, wedding photos, resumes, articles, scripts, PDFs, JPGs, and funny gifs. Let’s not even talk about all the spam we get. How many times have you been told that your unknown uncle of the Nigerian prince has passed away and left you a trillion dollars?
Google offers 15GB to store all these precious emails, but 15GB won’t last forever and unless you’re willing to spend the extra cash, it’s best to take the time to delete emails and files that you really not used to make sure all that painstaking spam is gone too. Doing this will help you keep track of the actual important emails and free up all the space you need for the data worth keeping.
How to see how much Google One storage you’re using
First, make sure you are logged into your Gmail account on your computer while using your favorite browser. While you may be able to delete emails using your iPhone or Android phone app, Google’s best tools are available when using the web browser on a computer.
Before going any further, take a look at how much storage space you have left in your Google account. Many of us may have become grandfathers in Google One accounts, so if you should, go there and check out the breakdown of how much storage space your Google Drive, Photos, and Gmails are taking up.
You can also do this by logging into your Google account, clicking your account icon in the top right corner, selecting “Manage your Google account” and scrolling down to find “Account Storage.” You can also go to your Google Drive to see a breakdown.
How to delete all emails in Gmail
Once you’ve seen how much of your email storage is being taken up, it’s time to start deleting and cleaning up precious space. Now, we’re not necessarily advocating literally deleting all your emails, but this is the best method for deleting entire categories of email that you don’t want or need. As you can see in the photo above, I’m already paying Google for extra space because I’ve never made time to clean up my email before today. So unless you want an inbox full of “Dad, send more money!” I suggest you join.
1. A good place to start is by scrolling down the page and clicking “Get Your Space Back”.
2. Select ‘Free up account storage’ there.
3. Here you can see exactly how much storage space your deleted emails and spam are taking up, then view and delete them.
4. Just click on each option and you will be taken to a web page that will show you all the emails in the files you have chosen.
5. Scan them through to make sure they aren’t important. Choose all items in the top left, then select “Delete all” in the top right and you’re done.
As an aside, you can regularly make sure to empty all your deleted emails via the “Trash” icon on the left side of your Gmail user screen. Just select “Trash”, then select “Empty Trash Now” and in seconds they will all be gone. It’s quick and easy.
Google makes deleting your emails pretty easy and divides things into tabs to make the decision-making process even faster. I save my “primary tab” for last because that’s where most of my important and personal emails end up. So the obvious choices to start with are social and promotional.
In your Gmail account, select the “Promotions” tab and do a quick check to make sure you don’t really want these emails. Then, just above the “Primary tab”, select the square “bulk” selection box and watch as all the emails are magically selected. Then hit delete at the top and again, you just freed up some space.
You can also do this for the ‘Social Tab’ tab, which frees up a lot of space.
Once you are done deleting these emails, you need to select the “Trash” icon on the left again and delete everything en masse. Then you can check your storage space again and see how much space you have created.
Quick filter tips to keep everything spotless
In your Gmail’s search box, you can use certain keywords as search filters to help you find old emails, and other things you might not realize are still taking up space.
If you type “before:05/11/2009” you will see all emails sent before that date. You can easily swap the day and for these by changing them to the time period you want to locate.
If you type “older_than:2m” in the search box, all emails older than two months will be displayed. You can also use the term “newer_than” for emails older than two months. You can also swap the number if you want to search further back.
This next shortcut is a favorite of mine. Type “has:attachment” into your Gmail search bar and all emails with attachments will be displayed. This is useful when looking for old documents or photos that you may want to find.
Another favorite of mine is “filename:pdf.” This will help you quickly find all those PDFs you have received. Finally, there’s another handy “from:Bob”, which will help you find all the emails sent to you by Bob (or whatever name you enter).
Between deleting and using these magical search terms, you now have everything you need to keep your Gmail squeaky clean and tidy.