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-
Ghacks Technology News

Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. nightcreature said on March 3, 2021 at 11:21 am

    Make sure to keep an eye on your alternate / recovery mail address.
    When I deleted about 2.500 e-mails from my account it has been disabled automatically after a few warnings. All that happened within minutes.

    2 security alerts + :
    Google noticed unusual activity in your account. Someone else might have signed in and deleted emails. Review your account activity to make sure no one else has access.

    1 critical security alert:
    Google noticed unusual activity in your account. Someone else might have signed in and deleted emails.

    Your Google Account has been disabled

    After entering my verification code to recover my account I got the information that parts of my transactions have been reverted for my protection. So i had to delete the mails again. This time I checked for security warnings and confirmed that it was me who made the changes.

  2. Anonymous said on March 1, 2021 at 11:36 pm

    Never trust Google with your data. Do local backup of your account as well.

  3. Ghandiz said on March 1, 2021 at 5:52 pm

    Or you can pay a few bucks / year for 100gb – 200gb -> or more storage ;)
    No matter how much ppl dislike google, in all different ways, they are fast and reliable, and its worth the “backup”, it frees upp my phone space, syncs great and has its perks.

    and yes, they track you blablabla, but, that is not what the article is about.

  4. Airin said on March 1, 2021 at 3:03 pm

    In my testing, you cannot have a space after the colon. The example you use “larger: 5M category:promotions” doesn’t work, because you have a space before ‘5M’. I suggest you change it to “larger:5M category:promotions”, or “larger:5MB category:promotions” (which works the same, but I find clearer. When you have that space in there, you are actually just finding promotions that have the text “5M” in them, they likely don’t use much space.

    In my gmail, I have many rules that apply a label to ads that may not be marked as such otherwise, so these are also useful:
    “larger:5MB label:Ads”
    “label:ads before:2020/02/01” – I do this once a year or so, delete all ads from before this date.

    1. Karan Rajpal said on March 1, 2021 at 5:36 pm

      Mind sharing how you set up some of those rules?

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on March 1, 2021 at 4:10 pm

      Thanks, corrected!

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.