Filter Gmail email messages by size

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 9, 2012
Updated • Oct 4, 2018
Email, Gmail

If you need to find large attachments on Gmail quickly, you have a few options at your disposal. You can for instance use the Find Big Email service which automatically goes through all of your emails to sort them by size into groups. The program labels the emails accordingly so that you can quickly display all emails with attachments that are over a certain size.

While that is certainly handy, it means that you have to authorize the service for the operation, something that not all Gmail users may want to do considering that emails often contain important data that no one else should have access to.

Back then I explained how you can use a third party email program like Thunderbird to sort emails by size automatically, which is really helpful in this regard. While you need to install and configure the program first, you can display the sizes manually and without third party help.

Gmail's size parameter

gmail sort by size

There is however another option that you can use on Gmail's website directly. The undocumented parameter size: enables you to display emails that are larger than the specified size.

Use that together with a keyword, e.g. work, the name of a contact or an email address, and you have a filtering system that is easy to use and at the same time very efficient.

The size needs to be entered in bytes, a few examples are size:1000000 for files larger than 1 Megabyte, size:100000 for files larger than 100 Kilobyte or size:10000000 for attachments larger than 10 Megabyte.

It is technically not fully correct, as one Megabyte is 1048576 Bytes but that would make things more complicated as they should be. Just add keywords, email addresses or names to the search phrase to find the emails that you are looking for.

You may use M to specify Megabytes instead of Bytes. The search term size: 1M would return all emails that have a size of 1 Megabyte or larger.

If you just want a list of the largest emails, use it without added search terms.

Gmail supports operators to define ranges. The queries larger_than and smaller_than can be used in that regard. To display all emails between 1 Megabyte and 10 Megabyte, you'd use larger_than:1M smaller_than:10M.

Overview of size parameters and options on Gmail

  • size:xyz -- returns emails that match the selected size in bytes or are larger, e.g. size: 1000000
  • size:xyzM -- returns emails that match the selected size in Megabytes or are larger, e.g. size: 4M
  • larger_than: xyz -- returns emails that are larger than the selected size in bytes, e.g. larger_than: 1000000
  • larger_than: xyzM -- returns emails that are larger than the selected size in Megabytes, e.g. larger_than: 1M
  • smaller_than: xyz -- returns emails that are smaller than the selected size in bytes, e.g. smaller_than: 1000000
  • smaller_than: xyzM -- returns emails that are smaller than the selected size in Megabytes, e.g. smaller_than: 1M

The size parameter can be really useful for a number of things, for instance to delete large emails to free up space, or to locate a specific email that you know had a large attachment attached to it.

Filter Gmail email messages by size
Article Name
Filter Gmail email messages by size
Need to find large emails on Gmail quickly? Use the undocumented size: parameter to find large emails quickly using the Gmail web interface.
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  1. JMGG said on January 19, 2012 at 8:25 am

    You said that Outlook isn’t your main email client, so which is your main one?

    1. BalaC said on January 19, 2012 at 9:42 am

      I think its thunderbird

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on January 19, 2012 at 10:15 am

      It is Mozilla Thunderbird.

  2. Salaam said on September 24, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    Awesome! This actually solved my problem… what a stupid bug.

  3. Claud said on December 19, 2012 at 2:08 am

    If this is the same bug that I’ve encountered, there may be another fix: (1) hover over open Outlook item in Taskbar, cursor up to hover over Outlook window item, and right-click; (2) this should give you Restore / Move / Size / Minimize / Maximize — choose Move or Size; (3) use your cursor keys, going arbitrarily N/S/E/W, to try to move or size the Outlook window back into view. Basically, the app behaves as though it were open in a 0x0 window, or at a location that’s offscreen, and this will frequently work to resize and/or move the window. Don’t forget to close while resized/moved, so that Outlook remembers the size/position for next time.

    1. Lynda said on February 12, 2013 at 3:37 pm

      THANK YOU Claude!!! I could get the main window to launch but could not get any other message window to show on the desktop. You are my hero!!!!

    2. Chad said on November 20, 2018 at 4:24 pm

      Solved my issue! 6 years later and this is still problem…

    3. Ivan X said on January 21, 2021 at 4:50 pm

      Fantastic. Thank you. Size did the trick.

  4. Andrew said on October 26, 2013 at 7:06 am

    This solved my Outlook problem, too. Thank you. :)

  5. Charles said on December 7, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    Thank you so much, this started happening to me today and was causing big problems. You are a life saver, I hope I can help you in some way some day.

  6. garth said on November 7, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    You are a god – thank you!

  7. Faisal said on February 9, 2015 at 10:09 am

    thanks a lot…. work like charm.. :-)

  8. Simon said on March 24, 2015 at 11:36 pm

    Yah…thanks Claude. I’ve been having the same problem and tried all the suggestions…your solution was the answer. It had resized itself to a 0/0 box. Cheers

  9. Olu said on April 14, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    Excellent post. This had me baffled even trying to accurately describe the problem. This fixed it for me.
    Thank you

  10. Coenig said on July 23, 2015 at 7:36 am

    Thanks a lot for the article. Don’t know why it happenend, don’t know how it got fixed, but it was really annoying and now it works :-)

  11. Fali said on January 20, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Thanks a lot. I was facing this issue from past 3 week. I tried everything but no resolution. The issue was happening intermittently and mainly when I was changing the display of screen ( as i use 2 monitors). The only option i had was to do system restore. But thanks to you.

    1. MIki said on January 10, 2019 at 11:54 am

      I’ve been tried to sole this problem for 12hours. Your comment about changing the display of screen helped me a lot!! Thanks!!

  12. Christina said on January 20, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    Thank you…don’t know why this happened but your instructions helped me fix it. Running Windows 10 and office pro 2007

  13. Oz said on July 22, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    Great tip! Thanks!

  14. Tracy said on September 1, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    Worked for me, too – thank you!!!

  15. shawn said on September 9, 2016 at 10:25 am

    It’s Worked for me, too
    thank you very much!

  16. Jari said on October 31, 2016 at 11:53 am

    I had a similar issue with Outlook 2013 on Windows 10 and this helped me to fix it. Thank you very much!

  17. Michel H said on November 30, 2016 at 11:08 pm

    Thank you so much. Solved!
    Considering you published this in 2012, incredible not been debugged by Microsoft.
    Thank you again. M

  18. Ziad Bitar said on January 9, 2017 at 2:00 am

    This problem was faced by only one user logging to TS 2008 r2 using outlook 2010.The issue was resolved.


  19. Anonymous said on February 15, 2017 at 5:24 pm

    Great tip. Thank you!!!! If it helps, I had to use the Control Key and the arrow keys at the same time to bring my window back into view. Worked like a charm.

  20. Rochelle said on March 6, 2017 at 11:59 am

    Thank you, this worked !!!!

  21. anom1234 said on May 20, 2018 at 11:20 pm

    Man, you are a fucking god. Thanks a lot, what an annoying bug!!

  22. JC said on October 12, 2020 at 2:14 pm

    Awesome, this post solved the issue. Many thanks!

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