Hey Dave! My Gmail mailbox is getting full and I’m afraid I’m going to start having email bounce. What are my solutions for freeing up space in Google Mail?
Ever since Google suggested that we should never delete anything, just use better search to wind our way through the thicket of email, it was inevitable that we’d all hit the limits of our Gmail space allocation. I know that I’ve bumped into my 15GB ceiling a couple of times. 15GB. That’s a lotta space for email, you’d think it would be impossible to ever have that much, but if you consider a hundred messages per day times 5-10 years, some of which have attachments and photos, well, I can attest that it’s possible to run out of space.
One way to solve the problem is to pay for a bigger space allotment, and I’m sure that’s the Google preferred solution because never delete. Remember? 🙂
I prefer actually doing a little bit of housework occasionally and making sure I don’t bang up against that limitation instead, and fortunately there are some pretty good tools and tricks for doing so.
To start out, I’m getting mighty close to my 15GB ceiling again, as you can see at the bottom of the Gmail screen:
96% is anxiety-provoking, so let’s chop that down a bit. Your first step should definitely be to click on “Manage“, of course, to ensure that it’s actually Gmail that’s taking up your space allotment. I do it and get an upsell:
At least space isn’t too painfully expensive: For $19.99/year I can jump from 15GB to 100GB or, heck, throw caution to the wind and get 1000GB of space (1TB) for $99.99/year.
Or…. let’s not. Let’s get rid of some of the biggest messages instead. Before we go back to that, however, click on the tiny “View details” link below the pie chart. It’ll show you how your space is being consumed against Google properties:
So 2.88GB of my 15GB allocation is going to files I have on Google Drive. I bet I can clean that up easily enough, but also notice that 11.23GB is allocated to Gmail, the lion’s share. Now let’s go clean that up a bit!
The key here is that you can search your Gmail archive with specific searches, one of which specifies the size of each message. Search for “size:1000000” and you’ll get all messages that are 1MB or larger. Unfortunately you can’t use commas to separate the thousands so it’s a bit tricky. I’ll do some size-based searches to see how many matches there are:
This tells me that there are 126 messages that are greater than or equal to 5MB in size. Let’s try a bigger value:
27 messages are 10MB or larger. One more search, let’s really look for huge files:
Six of my email messages are 20MB or larger in size. Doesn’t sound like a huge number, but still, 6*20MB = 620MB or over 1/2 GB of storage space. At this point I can view them, save any attachments to my computer, and delete them all:
You can see from the fact that these don’t go back years that I keep an eye on my own Gmail account. Your results might well include email from 2015, 2011, or even later. Do ya really need to keep them forever?
Here’s the confusion, though. If you delete them all, you won’t actually free up any disk space. Why? Because the “Trash” isn’t actually deleted, it’s just another folder. You need to go into your Trash — use “in:trash” as shown — and really delete everything. Easy way is to choose “Empty Trash now“:
You’ll need to confirm that you really want to delete things (I told you Google doesn’t like delete!) before you can proceed:
Now, with a bit more work deleting thousands of small messages from some mailing lists I’m on but don’t need to archive, I finally have a bit more space for my Google files and email messages:
I’ll still go into Google Drive and see what huge files I can axe, but it’s a step in the right direction. And I hope you find it as easy to free up some of your space in Gmail too!
Pro Tip: I’ve written quite a bit about Gmail and Google services. Please check out my Gmail help library for lots more tutorials while you’re visiting!