How to free up space on Gmail if you are running low

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 29, 2014
Updated • Jan 4, 2018
Companies, Gmail, Google

For many Internet users, email is still the number one method of communicating with others. While on-the-go users may have switched to messaging and video chat, email is playing a big part in the life of many users.

Google's Gmail service is one of the most popular services when it comes to email even though it has lost quite a bit of momentum in recent time.

With that, I don't mind user growth but innovation.

Gmail users get 15 Gigabyte of storage space at the time of writing. While most users may never reach that limit, some may and one of the reasons why that is the case is that the storage space is shared across several services.

In particular, space is shared across Gmail, Google Drive and Google+ Photos.

1. Analyze the storage space distribution

gmail google storage space
storage distribution

Since storage space is shared, the first thing you should do is check which of the services is using most of the storage space. If you are a heavy Google Drive user for instance, you may have hosted large files on the site that take away space from Gmail.

Photographers may have uploaded many high-res photos or videos to Google+ Photos instead, for instance via their device's automatic photo backup feature.

Visit the Drive Storage page on Google. Here you find listed the total storage and storage used. If you move the mouse over the pie chart, information about each individual service is displayed so that you know which service uses the most storage space.

Depending on the information here, you may need to address the issue in a different way.

2. Too many photos


If most space is used by photos, you have several options to address the issue. All photos larger than 2048x2048 pixels count against the storage space while photos with a lower resolution don't.

One option that you have therefore is to reduce the resolution of photos uploaded to Google+ Photos to address this. The problem is, most Android phones don't let you do that.

And if you upload photos manually to Google, for instance after taking them with your DSLR, then you cannot make use of that feature as well.

If you cannot or do not want to reduce the resolution of your photos, you have two options to deal with space issues:

  1. Backup photos to a local system and delete them on Google+ Photos.
  2. Disable the automatic photo backup feature and upload select photos manually instead.

3. Too many files

Google Drive storage can be the culprit as well. If you sync data between different systems, or upload files to drive regularly, it may use the majority of storage space available to you.

As with Google+ Photos, there is little that you can do in this regard other than to backup files that you don't longer require to be available in the cloud to delete them afterwards.

You can use Google's Takeout feature for that, or if you have Drive installed on your computer, simply move the files out of the storage location to back them up in a different location.

4. Deleting the trash


Files, photos and emails that you delete are not necessarily removed right away. They may be moved to the Trash instead where they take up the same amount of space as before.

Open the main Gmail, Google Drive or Google+ Photos service page and click on Trash there.

Here you find emails, files or photos listed that you have deleted previously. Each file is listed with its name, last modification date and owner.

You can hit the "empty trash" button to remove them all at once.

5. Gmail tips

large emails gmail

The following search parameters can be used to find emails that match certain parameters on Gmail. Just type or paste the filter in the search form on the Gmail page.

  1. Click on spam or search for in:spam, and delete all messages here. This may not have a big impact as spam is deleted automatically after 30 days. Still, you may see hundreds of emails in there and can free up some space doing so. Also check in:trash just to make sure it is empty.
  2. Search for has:attachment. It lists all emails that have at least one attachment.
  3. Combine the search with larger:1M to find all emails with attachments that have a size of at least 1 Megabyte. You can change the 1M to another value, e..g 100K.
  4. Use older_than:1y to find all emails older than one year and delete those that you may not need anymore.

Backing up old email is another solution. My preferred program for this operation is Mailstore Home, a free application that supports Gmail out of the box.

archive google mail

Note: For it to work, you need to enable Pop3 or SMTP access on Gmail first.

  1. Open the Forwarding and POP/IMAP settings page on the Google Gmail website.
  2. Select "Enable IMAP"  and click on save changes.
  3. Open Mailstore Home afterwards on your system.
  4. Select Archive Email from the startpage.
  5. Click on the Advanced button next to E-Mail Account under Create Profile and select Google Mail.
  6. Enter your Google email address and password, and either click on next right away or on test to make sure the settings are correct.
  7. If you are using two-factor authentication, you need to create an app-specific password on this page and use it in the Mailstore software.

The download may take a while. It depends largely on your system's download bandwidth and the emails.

Once you have created a local copy of all of your Google emails, you can go back to Gmail and delete old emails. I suggest you use the older_than:1y parameter for that. It will display all emails older than a year so that you can select them all and delete them on the site.

These emails are still available in the Mailstore software, so that you can open it and use the search or browse functionality that it provides to find emails that you have deleted on Gmail.

Now You: Have another tip how to deal with space issues on Gmail? Share it in the comment section below.

How to free up space on Gmail if you are running low
Article Name
How to free up space on Gmail if you are running low
Your Gmail account is running out of space? Read the following tips and suggestions on how to resolve the issue and free up storage space.

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  1. The Dark Lady said on July 9, 2023 at 11:19 am

    Martin, I would appreciate that you do not censor this post, as it’s informative writing.

    Onur, there is a misleading statement “[…] GIFs are animated images …”. No, obviously you don’t seem to have take much notice of what you were told back in March regarding; Graphics Interchange Format (GIF).

    For example, (if you had read my replies within that thread, you might have learnt something useful). I even mentioned, “GIF intrinsically supports animated images (GIF89a)”.

    You linked to said article, [Related: …] within this article, but have somehow failed to take onboard what support you were given by several more knowledgeable people.

    If you used AI to help write this article, it has failed miserably.

    1. E. Fromme said on September 29, 2023 at 1:32 pm

      EMRE ÇITAK posts are useless because they are fraught with inaccuracies and are irrelevant.

  2. KeZa said on August 17, 2023 at 5:58 pm

    AI is stupid, and it will not get any better if we really know how this all works. Prove me wrong..

  3. Database failure said on August 18, 2023 at 5:21 pm

    Martin, [#comment-4569908] is only meant to be in: []. Whereas it appears duplicated in several recent random low-quality non relevant articles.

    Obviously it [#comment-4569908] was posted: 9 July 2023. Long before this thread even existed… your database is falling over. Those comments are supposed to have unique ID values. It shouldn’t be possible to duplicate the post ID, if the database had referential integrity.

  4. Howard Pearce said on August 25, 2023 at 12:24 pm

    Don’t tell me!

    Ghacks wants the state to step in for STATE-MANDATED associations to save jobs!!!

    Bring in the dictatorship!!!

    And screw Rreedom of Association – too radical for Ghacks maybe

  5. Howard Allan Pearce said on September 7, 2023 at 9:13 am

    GateKeeper ?

    That’s called “appointing” businesses to do the state’s dirty work!!!!!

    But the article says itself that those appointed were not happy – implying they had not choice!!!!!!

    1. Howard Allan Pearce Jones said on October 1, 2023 at 4:28 am

      Rreedom of Association is one of our most important rights. Some people think it’s Freedom, but no, I say Rreedom is far more important. There are many STATE-MANDATED associations that save jobs, that’s right MANDATED. I can’t name any of them, but rest assured they are bad, because saving jobs are bad, and people having jobs leads to dictatorship!!! Anyone who disagrees is too radical for Ghacks maybe, because I’m not sure.

  6. owl said on September 7, 2023 at 9:50 am

    @The Dark Lady,
    @Database failure,
    @Howard Pearce,
    @Howard Allan Pearce,

    Note: I replaced the quoted URI scheme: https:// with “>>” and posted.

    The current is owned by “Softonic International S.A.” (sold by Martin in October 2019), and due to the fate of M&A, has changed in quality.
    Many Authors of bloggers and advertisers certified by Softonic have joined the site, and the site is full of articles aimed at advertising and clickbait.
    As it stands, except for articles by Martin Brinkmann, Mike Turcotte, and Ashwin, they are low quality, unhelpful, and even vicious. It is better not to read those articles.
    How to display only articles by a specific author:
    Added line to My filters in uBlock Origin:,.home-posts,.home-category-post:not(:has-text(/Martin Brinkmann|Mike Turcotte|Ashwin/))

    By the way, if you use an RSS reader, you can track exactly where your comments are (I’m an iPad user, so I use “Feedly Classic”, but for Windows I prefer the desktop app “RSS Guard”).
    RSS Guard: Feed reader which supports RSS/ATOM/JSON and many web-based feed services.

  7. Anonymous said on September 14, 2023 at 6:41 pm

    We all live in digital surveillance glass houses under scrutiny of evil people because of people like Musk. It’s only fair that he takes his turn.

  8. Anonymous said on September 18, 2023 at 1:31 pm

    “Operating systems will be required to let the user choose the browser, virtual assistant and search engine of their choice. Microsoft cannot force users to use Bing or Edge. Apple will have to open up its iOS operating system to allow third-party app stores, aka allow sideloading of apps. Google, on the other hand, will need to provide users with the ability to uninstall preloaded apps (bloatware) from Android devices. Online services will need to allow users to unsubscribe from their platform easily. Gatekeepers need to provide interoperability with third-parties that offer similar services.”

    Wonderful ! Let’s hope they’ll comply with that law more than they are doing with the GDPR.

  9. sean conner said on September 27, 2023 at 6:21 am
  10. Sherry Grant said on September 29, 2023 at 7:47 pm

    What does this article about Musk/Tesla have to do with computing, devices, phones?
    More irelevant filler.

  11. Anonymous said on September 29, 2023 at 8:47 pm

    yeah sure… they are always the victims and it is only against them ????

    Believe them 100% and never question anything. This lawsuit sounds like the type you heard when people were eating batteries.

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