3 Ways To Free Up Storage Space In Your Gmail Account

Tina Sieber 21-02-2012

gmail storage spaceGoogle Mail currently offers 7,679 MB of free storage. For the average user, that is enough space to last a lifetime. But what if you run out of storage space nevertheless? How can you find and delete obsolete emails in bulk or track down large attachments to regain precious MBs? This article highlights three ways to quickly make room for more mail.


The Basics

Before we begin, let me go through some basics. I recommend to set your maximum page size to show 100 conversations per page, which will make scanning emails easier. To do this, click the wheel icon at the top right of GMail and select Mail Settings from the drop-down menu. In the General tab, select 100 from the drop-down list in Show x conversations per page. When you’re done, scroll to the bottom of the page and click the Save Changes button.

gmail storage space

When a folder or search result contains more than 100 emails, Gmail lets you select all of them, even though you cannot see more than 100. First, click the Select checkbutton at the top left to select all emails shown on the current page. Then note the little bit of text directly above these 100 emails. It will say something like “All 100 conversations on this page are selected. Select all xxx conversations (…)” Click the second part of that text and all respective emails will be selected, no matter how many there are. You can now either delete all of them,mark them as read or unread, label them etc.

free up gmail space

1. Empty Trash & Delete Spam

Messages that have been labelled as spam or trash for more than 30 days are deleted automatically. However, when you are in urgent need for space, be sure to delete these emails first. Both labels provide a little link above the list of emails that allows you to delete all messages immediately.


free up gmail space

Be mindful that sometimes legitimate emails are marked as Spam. Thus, I always scan emails before deleting them forever. In this situation, the first tip from the basics section above may be helpful, i.e. showing up to 100 messages per page.

2. Find Messages With Attachments

The next best way to free up space, is to locate emails with large attachments. To do this, simply type the operator has:attachment in the search field. Clicking the little arrow in the search field will open up additional filter options.

free up gmail space


You can fine tune the results by searching only for specific file types. Either add the respective file type to the above operator, e.g. has:attachment jpg or use another operator, which works just as well: filename: .jpg

gmail search has:attachment and specific file type

gmail search file type

While you can search for all emails with attachments, there is no way to sort emails by size in Gmail. If you don’t fancy an IMAP workaround, where you use a desktop client to sort emails by size, I recommend using the online tool Find Big Mail.


Find Big Mail scans your Gmail account and labels emails based on four categories: top (biggest emails), emails over 1MB, emails over 5MB, and emails over 10MB. You can scan the respective labels in your GMail account, download attachments, i.e. back them up locally, and delete the respective emails. Finally, be sure to empty the trash (point 1), to delete emails forever. Unfortunately, removing just the attachment from an email is not possible.

An exemplary result of a Find Big Mail scan is shown below. The labels will be shown in the sidebar of the Google Mail webmail client.

manage gmail space

A more thorough write-up of this point can be found here: How To Quickly Find Messages With Attachments In Gmail How to Quickly Find Messages With Attachments in Gmail Gmail and attachments are tied to one another. Find and manage all your large attachments with the help of these tips. Read More


3. Find & Delete Emails in Bulk

Gmail is my online email archive and personally, I don’t want to delete most of the emails with attachments. However, there are lots of emails without attachments that I really don’t want to keep forever, such as newsletters, notifications, adverts, and other stuff that ended up in my archive at some point. So how about getting rid of these space wasters first?

For this task, the first step to create a filter from a specific email and/or using the advanced search comes in handy. Find an example of an email that you want to remove from your archive, then click the little arrow on the right-hand side next to the email header, and select Filter messages like this.

manage gmail space

The advanced search with a suggested filter or in this case search term will pop up. Make sure this only covers emails you really want to delete and adjust if necessary. When you are satisfied with the result, use the tip for selecting all conversations matching the search criteria (see basics above) to manually delete all of these messages.

With the above example I deleted over 1,800 emails and freed up 1% of additional space.

gmail storage space

Note that if you actually create a filter with the search, you can delete all past emails, but you also will delete all future emails matching the keywords, until the respective filter is deleted. Generally, it is a better idea to opt out of email subscriptions, rather than creating a filter to automatically send them to the trash. In most countries, respective unsubscribe options are required by law and are typically found in the small print at the very bottom of the email. Filtering to the trash should be a last resort in case unsubscribing is not possible.

For more tips and tricks to backup attachments, emails, and use your Gmail storage space, have a look at these articles to help you clean out your GMail webmail account:

You will also find it useful to take a look at Craig’s article on useful Gmail filters 5 Gmail Filters to Help Prioritize & Organize Your Inbox What filters should each and every person have in their arsenal so that their inbox is as orderly as mine? I'm here to help you get started in setting up your first five filters, or... Read More which gives you some examples of what to look for in your archive.

Did you ever exhaust the Gmail storage space and how did you deal with it?  What advice and tools would you recommend for freeing up more space?

Related topics: Cloud Storage, Desktop Email Client, Email Tips, Gmail.

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  1. Sameer Niazi
    August 8, 2018 at 2:15 pm

    keep it up guyzzz nice post

  2. Kulo
    November 11, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    After deleting lot of my emails still it shows 15.53 GB (103%) of 15 GB used. I don't know what to do.

  3. Ron
    April 22, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    How can I reduce the amount of space I have used. I'm at 7.39GB of 17.?

  4. Ernestine Mullin
    February 4, 2015 at 11:45 pm

    This is not answering my question...

    i am not able to see the 'labels' icon so that i might add a new name in a new label!

  5. King Ranch
    July 23, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    I have both Yahoo and Gmail accounts. I have kept my Yahoo account because I find it much faster to manage a large amount of emails that come into my inbox. In Yahoo I can sort by "From" within my whole Inbox. The key point here is that "within" that end result search, all of the people who sent me a email are grouped together in "decending or ascending" date order for my entire Inbox, not just the page I am viewing. In Gmail, from what I can understand,I cannot find a way to have it sort, or search my entire Inbox, by the From field, and keep the dates within that first sort in a specific order. Heck, I would even by happy if Gmail could search my "entire" Inbox by the From field and not just the page I am viewing.

    I have used this syntax in the search field..."in:inbox from:", but again, all it does is group together my Senders for only the first page i am viewing. I have a large amount of email that comes into my accts, and when I am able to sort them by "From and Date" either in ascending or descending order, I can quickly manage them and clean up my Inbox.

    Does Gmail support this same criteria? Am I missing an easy way to accomplish this in gmail? Thank you.

    • Tina
      July 23, 2012 at 1:47 pm

      Can you not search from: across Gmail? That should be possible!

      I don't think Gmail limits results to what you see on the first or current page. If you search just for from: then the results will be from your entire email account.

      You can combine the from: syntax with the label: syntax. Labels are your custom 'folders'. You search the default 'folders' using the in: syntax. So it would be in:starred or in:inbox or in:all or in:sent, but label:family-mail etc.

      Instead of using these hard to remember search operons, why don't you use the Gmail search. Click on the little arrow in the search box to expand an advanced search menu. It offers from, to, subject, has words, doesn't have and time frame. Hope that helps!

      • King Ranch
        July 23, 2012 at 2:00 pm

        hmm, ok, yes, I see when I click on the down arrow, the criteria you are mentioning. However, I do not really want to Search for a Specific "From", rather I want to have my entire Inbox, sorted by the From field as the first key if you will for the sort, and then within that sort, have all of those emails in ascending or descending order. And yes, for whatever reason when I search the Inbox: From currently, all it does is group together my page I am "viewing" by the From, not my entire Inbox. Frustrating, and so easy to do in Yahoo, I don't understand why Gmail makes it so difficult, and to data not even possible it appears. Thank you in advance for any additional insights you can provide.

  6. Davin Peterson
    February 22, 2012 at 12:23 am

    One of the biggest things I don't like about Gmail, is that it doesn't allow you to sort your email by from, subject, size or date unlike Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail does. Why didn't or won't Google add this feature?

    • Tina
      February 22, 2012 at 10:22 am


      you can use the search feature to sort emails by sender, subject or date. I think GMail decided to not offer these sort of options in addition to the search because they would just clutter up the menu.

      Maybe I should write an article on how to search emails efficiently within GMail. Meanwhile, I recommend you to upgrade to the new GMail theme. Notice the little arrow on the far right of the search field, it will open the advanced search menu.

  7. asnby
    February 21, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    If you need extra space for your email, I have another method. First you need to set up a second email account. In your present account set a filter to forward all incoming emails in your inbox to this new account, and then delete them. Your used space in the current account won't grow, so you still can use it as your primary email account and all you have to do to get to your new incoming emails is to access your new account.

    • Tina
      February 22, 2012 at 10:23 am

      Great tip, asnby!

      You could also use an additional account just to store emails with large attachments. It's really too bad that it's not possible to delete an attachment without deleting the entire email.

      • Anonymous
        August 26, 2015 at 5:35 am