How to free up space on Gmail quickly

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 1, 2021
Updated • Mar 1, 2021
Email, Gmail

Customers who use Google's email service Gmail do get 15 Gigabytes of storage; that is a lot of space, but it is shared between multiple Google services including Gmail, Google Photos, and Google Drive. Google started to push its subscription-based service Google One in recent time. Customers who subscribe to it get increased storage and some additional benefits.

Google customers who don't want to pay the company for extra storage may run into space issues eventually, especially if the account is used actively.

One option to explore when it comes to freeing up storage space is to get rid of emails that are no longer required.

Note: you can use a program such as MailStore or Thunderbird to back up all emails prior to deleting the emails on the Google server.

You cannot use Gmail's mobile clients for effective delete sessions, as the options to do so are missing. Mobile users may be able to access Gmail in a mobile browser on the other hand, but the best option is to access Gmail using a desktop or laptop system.

Gmail displays the used storage space at the bottom of its web version. Note that the information is not updated in realtime.

Option 1: delete entire categories

gmail bulk delete free space

Gmail divides emails into different categories. Some of these categories may be prime targets for bulk delete jobs. Take the "social" or "promotions" categories for example.

The first lists messages from social network sites such as Facebook or Twitter, e.g. that someone shared a link or wants you to become friends.

The second category lists emails by companies for the most part, e.g. newsletters, offers, and related content.

All you have to do is the following:

  1. Access Gmail in a web browser and not in the Gmail app.
  2. Select one of the categories, or another folder from the sidebar listing.
  3. Select the square icon at the top of the email listing to select all emails that are displayed.
  4. Activate the "select all conversations" link at the top to select all emails of the folder and not just the visible ones.
  5. Activate the "Delete" icon afterwards.

All selected emails are moved to the Trash.

gmail empty trash

Gmail keeps them in the Trash for 30 days before they are deleted for good. You can speed up the process by opening the Trash from the sidebar menu and selecting "empty trash now" at the top to remove the emails right away.

Tip: you can speed up accessing the content by searching for categories or default folders to jump to them directly.

  • Social category:social
  • Updates category:updates
  • Forums category:forums
  • Promotions category:promotions
  • Spam in:spam
  • Trash in:trash

Using advanced search parameters

gmail search filters

Starting with a single category or folder provides users with a quick option to delete large numbers of emails, but it may not be the best option depending on use cases and personal preferences. The second option that Gmail users have is to use search parameters.

All you have to do is click on the arrow symbol next to the Gmail search field at the top to display advanced search parameters that you can combine for efficient filtering of emails.

The following options are the most useful ones:

  • Size to display emails that exceed the specified size, e.g. 5 Megabytes.
  • Date within to restrict the output to a certain date range.
  • Has attachment to include emails with attachments only.
  • From to include only emails from specific email addresses.
  • Subject to include only emails that match the selected text.
  • Has the words to include emails that match the text.
  • Doesn't have for the opposite.

Select search to use the selected search parameters for that particular search. You may also use the "create filter" option to create a permanent filter that you can access over and over again.

You may use the "select all" option described in the previous chapter on the search results page.

Gmail users may type the advanced search parameters into the search field manually to speed things up. We highlighted the options back in 2021 in Gmail advanced search parameters.

Here is a short list of important ones:

  • size: search for messages larger than a specified size
  • has:attachment - display only messages with attachments
  • from: - find emails from a specific sender
  • to: - find emails sent to a specific recipient
  • subject: - search for words in subject lines

Best of all, you may combine these with the category and folder filters, e.g. larger:5M category:promotions returns all emails in the Promotions category that have a size of 5 MB or larger.

Now You: have another tip? Let us know in the comments below.

How to free up space on Gmail quickly
Article Name
How to free up space on Gmail quickly
Find out how to free up space on the Gmail email service quickly by using advanced options of the Gmail web interface and search-
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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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