How to free up some space in Gmail

Gmail was launched on April Fool’s Day in 2004, with 1GB of free storage, at a time when its major competitors, Hotmail and Yahoo were offering storage space in megabytes. 
At the time, 1GB was huge and revolutionary. But sooner than later it became way too small. Now Gmail gives 15GB of free storage space. But that is also fast becoming too small because Google Drive and Google Photos take a chunk of that space.

So for those who use Gmail as their main email service, their storage space is being fast eaten up, but there is a way to clear out the clutter and reclaim some space.

Here are some tips.

How to check your current storage space left

Log into Gmail and scroll all the way to the bottom of your inbox. In the lower-left corner, you’ll see how much storage you’re using compared to how much you have available. If the bar is mostly light gray, good for you; you’ve got plenty of space left. If it’s mostly (or all) black, it’s time to roll up your sleeves.


You’ll notice in this image above that I’m using a whopping 85 GB out of a total of 216 GB available. That brings us to our first tip.

Buy more storage space

If you are the type who is not ready to go through all the processes of freeing cluttered space on your Gmail account, you can easily buy more space. For instance, for US$30 a year, Google gives you additional 200GB of space. Head to and scroll down a bit to see the available plans.


But if your cannot afford to buy extra space, there are still several ways to free up storage without paying for more.

Clean up you existing storage space

You can get a good overview of what’s hogging space by visiting the Storage Management page. From there, you can review deleted emails that haven’t yet been expunged, spam, attachments, and other large files.

Click into each section, where you can review the items Google thinks you might want to get rid of, and then either delete them one by one or check the “All items” box in the upper-left corner and clear all at a go.


Delete already downloaded large attachments

In Gmail, click the little downward arrow on the far right of the search box to bring up the advanced search menu. Look for the “Size field” about halfway down. Let’s choose 15 MB, which kinda-sorta teeters on the edge of being a storage-sucking message.

Click the blue search button and you’ll see a list of all the emails you have with attachments totaling 15 MB or larger.


This view here is much easier to work with than the Google One auto-clean view. At a glance, you’ll have a pretty good idea of which messages you might want to keep and which ones you can safely delete based solely on the senders.

Check the boxes next to the emails you want to delete, then click the garbage can icon in the row of icons at the top of the messages list.

You’ll then need “empty” the trash to truly clear out these messages, which in turn frees up the storage space. Click “Trash” in the left sidebar, then click the “Empty Trash now” link. You can also wait for 30 days: The trash will then automatically empty itself.

Delete old messages 

Another good way to free up space is to simply delete old email you don’t need anymore.

Using the same drop-down from the search bar, set the “Date within” option to something like within one year of the second year since you first opened your Gmail account. That way, it’ll search backward a year and forward a year.

Notice that the search box says something like “after:2006/1/1 before:2008/1/2” now. You can manually adjust the before and after years to create a wider range for yourself.


You probably don’t want to just wholesale delete every single email you got over a period of a few years, and it would take forever to go through all these messages to choose which ones to oust. But there’s a quick way to clear out messages that weren’t important to you back then and probably aren’t important to you now.

Up above the messages list where all the icons are, click the left-most icon that looks like a square with a dash in the middle of it. From the dropdown list, select “Unread” and it’ll put checkboxes in all the messages you never bothered to read way back when.

Delete those, then empty the trash, and some space is freed.

Delete in Combo style 

You see where this is headed, right? Why not pull up old messages that have big attachments?


By now, you’re an advanced search expert. All you have to do is search for messages larger than 15 megabytes within a year of the second year you opened your account. Or whatever. Pick your own date range. You can delete all of them combined, then empty your trash as usual.

Bury the Bulk Mail

Unless you’re hyper-organized about email, hypervigilant about unwanted messages, or both, it’s possible that your inbox is a dumping ground for bulk mail you either never asked for or you don’t care about anymore.

A simple search for “unsubscribe” in the search box works wonders to turn up a giant collection of old newsletters, marketing emails, order updates, forum posts, and who knows what else. This search gives you quick access to clear out old and/or large messages, too. You can pull down the advanced search box and work your magic in there: The “unsubscribe” parameter will be filled in for you already.

This is also a good way to look over your recent messages to see all the email lists you’re on and unsubscribe from the ones you don’t find helpful. After all: For every message you prevent from coming into your inbox, it’s one fewer message you’ll need to clear out later.


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