What is the best way to bulk delete or archive Gmail emails?

I'm using several work and home Gmail accounts, and manage them using Thunderbird for the most part. I started to use the Gmail application on my Pixel 3a device recently for a throwaway account just to see how it worked.

One of the main issues that I ran into was that I could not figure out how to speed up bulk operations. While it is possible to select one or multiple emails and run archive or delete operations on them, or use swipe gestures to deal with individual messages, it is not possible to select multiple messages at once.

If you want to archive or delete all inbox messages for examples, you find no option to do that quickly in the Gmail application for Android or iOS.

gmail delete archive bulk emails


Here are your options in the Gmail app:

  • Swipe a single email to the left or right to archive it.
  • Long-tap on an email to select it; select additional emails with a tap on the sender's icon. Use one of the available options displayed at the top, e.g. archive or delete, to perform the action on all selected emails.

Here is what you cannot do using the apps:

  • Select all emails that are displayed, e.g. of a folder or search.

The best option that you have is to use the Gmail web interface for these operations. While you could perform actions on single emails in the apps if you have only some listed there, it is quite the nuisance if you need to delete or archive hundreds or even thousands of them, e.g. to have zero emails in the inbox.

gmail select all emails

Here is what you need to do:

  1. Load the official Gmail site in a web browser of choice, e.g. on the Android device or a desktop / laptop PC.
  2. Select the folder that you want to manage, e.g. Inbox or Spam, or run a search.
  3. Click or tap on the table headers selector item and select "All" from the list of choices. You can also select all "read", "unread", "starred", or "unstarred" emails. All emails are auto-selected based on the selection that you make in the menu.
  4. Note that only the visible items are selected by default. You can use the "select all [...] in " option at the top to select all emails.
  5. Select the desired action, e.g. "archive", "delete", or "move".

Using the web interface is much faster than using the Gmail application as you can run the desired actions on hundreds or thousands of emails instead of just one at a time.

Now You: Which email service / client do you use?

What is the best way to bulk delete or archive Gmail emails?
Article Name
What is the best way to bulk delete or archive Gmail emails?
Find out how to delete or archive multiple Gmail emails quickly to save lots of time, especially when you are predominantly using the Gmail mobile application for Android or iOS.
Ghacks Technology News

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. Jonns said on October 16, 2020 at 6:15 pm

    You could also go to the official Gmail website, use a search term, and bulk archive/delete that way.

    For example, if I wanted to delete/archive all messages before a certain date, I’d use

    before: YYYY/MM/DD

    Then I’d click the checkbox to select all visible messages, followed by clicking on the “select all messages that match this search.

    Finally, I’d click on the action I wanted to perform (Delete, Archive, Move, etc).

    1. John Hampshire said on October 17, 2020 at 1:24 pm

      This is all correct, but there is also simple syntax available in the Gmail search box. From memory I got this from Ghacks!
      Anyway, running, say, “label:inbox is:unread” gives you a list of all unread emails. You may then choose to mark them as read etc via the Gmail overflow icon. Similarly, you can click the bin icon for a list derived using, say, the name of a sender.

  2. VioletMoon said on October 16, 2020 at 8:48 pm

    Interesting . . . I’ve never used Gmail. It’s surprising the program isn’t more user friendly, like Thunderbird.

  3. Mothy said on October 16, 2020 at 9:40 pm

    Which email service / client do you use?

    I switched from Gmail to ProtonMail a couple years ago as a deliberate effort to get away from anything Google as well as go with a more privacy oriented mail service. In either case I’ve always used Outlook as my mail client since it’s what I’ve been using at work for the last 20+ years so it’s something I’m very familiar with and like how it works.

    For a while used POP3 then later switched to IMAP with Outlook always configured to use/save everything in a local PST file stored under my general data directory (ex. C:\My Files) so it’s easy and always included in data backups. Something to note, to use IMAP with ProtonMail requires a paid account and installation of their Bridge program on the PC which acts as a go between Outlook and their encrypted mail service.

    I also use the ProtonMail app on my Android phone which is available as an APK off their website (so don’t need a Google account to get it from the Play Store). The app has worked well however would be nice to have a dark mode as well as the color/font used can make it harder to read email sometimes. Thankfully both are being addressed in an upcoming release.

    As to the amount of email and managing it, never really had an issue with that as I’ve always been very strict in sharing the email address as well as always look out for and uncheck/unsubscribe to any kind of marketing email options for any account where the email is used (an ounce of prevention kind of thing).

    1. Rnk said on October 17, 2020 at 12:45 am

      For those on the free plan or not willing to deal with ProtonMail Bridge, check out ElectronMail desktop client, it packs some useful features including encrypted local storage.

  4. oblivion said on October 17, 2020 at 7:49 am

    This issue is the reason I was sad when Inbox went away — it was awesome for handling bulk stuff.

    The best app I’ve found for this is BlueMail. It has a Multi-Edit function that, once selected, adds a Mark All button at the top right of the app, with an Archive button on the bottom toolbar that will apply the command to all marked messages.It can take a couple of runs through while it downloads message headers but it’s still easier than anything else I’ve found.

  5. Paul(us) said on October 17, 2020 at 1:44 pm

    I still think the best way to archive email on two different storage medium (One you have stored somewhere else) is by hand and to work with a dynamic and a static archive.
    This to difert the current year and the years before. This so you can quickly find the subjects your are still developing or keeping a eye on for there respons, after the development.

    With programs like dbGrep and everything you than can find specific subjects quickly find back what you where looking for.
    So for the backup of your email I do not need any specifc program.

    Archive methode examples are: (first contact) 2010-10-01 – Name company – (todays email) ‘-20-05-12 – (nr. of email of today) 01 – Description of subject.

  6. eric said on October 19, 2020 at 5:46 am

    You could also connect to Gmail over IMAP with a regular email client and use the tools contained there to select and delete messages.
    For example in Thunderbird you can write email Filters to process mails in your inbox, moving them to different folders or deleting them, based on a number of criteria. I find this a lot easier than the Gmail interface.

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.