Are you like me and have a habit of letting your Gmail Inbox get big? Many of my emails are not a priority, such as promotional emails. In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to bulk delete emails on Gmail using email addresses, pattern matching, dates, statuses, email filtering, and search operators.
I want to highlight that this tutorial is not about deleting all your emails or closing your Gmail account. This is about easy email maintenance and removing old emails. Also, I’ve kept these examples simple. These “how-to” steps should work in the free Gmail and Google Workspace (previously G Suite).
One exception is how to delete promotional emails since Google Workspace does not have a Promotions tab.
Also, when it comes to mass deleting Gmail emails, I would use a desktop. The layout options and the way search operators work vary. It is more efficient and less error-prone using a desktop.
Google Storage Plays a Role
Sometimes you need to delete emails because you’re running out of storage space. Gmail provides each user with a large pooled storage allotment. However, the large volume of emails can make it harder to find your items. This is why we often need to delete non-essential items.
The first thing to know is that your “total storage” is not just for your Google email. Google allocates 15 GB on the free account with other Google assets like Google Photos, Google Sheets, and Google Drive.
How Much Google Storage Have I Used?
If you scroll to the bottom of your Inbox, you’ll see an indicator. The numbers will appear on the left of the Terms. In my account, I’ve used 8.92 GB. And if you don’t want to scroll to the bottom, from any Gmail tab, you can press Ctrl + f to pull up the search box and type “GB”.
Google storage indicator
I can see my total allocation and how much I’ve used. I also can get more details about my other Google products by clicking the small external link icon.
How to Delete All Promotions Emails
Google tries to sort your mail by predefined tabs. One of these tabs is called “Promotions.” These are probably your least important emails, so it’s a good starting place. Some examples from my Promotions tab include:
- Daily coupon or deals emails
- Promotions from merchants
- Product announcements
- Webinar reminders
Another benefit of starting with this tab (or folder) is that you probably have multiple pages of email messages. When people start to delete emails, they don’t realize that the top checkbox will select all messages for that page.
The number of emails showing depends on your account settings but is typically 50 messages per page. As a result, some folks repeat the deletion process for each page. However, there is an easier method.
- Click your Gmail Promotions tab.
- Scan the items to see if you should unsubscribe to any. This is preferable so you won’t get future emails.
- See if any items have value or are Starred ✰. If so, drag these emails to another tab to get them recategorized.
- Click the checkbox at the top. This will select all emails.
✪ For folks who like Gmail keyboard shortcuts, you can use * + a to Select All. However, this is one of the shortcuts where I find it easier to use menus.
- If you have multiple pages, you have a new option. You should see a new link for Select all conversations in Promotions. See [D] below.
Your header should now show All conversations in Promotions are selected along with some other items:
[A] The enabled checkbox. Each email should be checked, as well.
[B] The Delete icon.
[C] A note indicating the number of selected messages for the page.
[D] An email count of all messages in Promotions.
- Click the blue hyperlink to Select all messages in Promotions. [D]
- The top section will change to show that all messages are selected.
- Click the Trash can button.
- On the Confirm bulk action dialog click the OK button.
Based on how many email messages you’re deleting, it may take a little bit. In my case, the screen would show a yellow Loading.. marker at the top.
How to Delete Gmail by Email Status
Understandably, some people may not want to delete ALL emails in a given tab. Fortunately, Gmail allows us to delete by the email’s status. An email can only have one status.
The email statuses include:
These status selections display when you click the down arrow control ▼ next to the main checkbox. Instead of checking the box, which defaults to “All” emails, you can filter by a status subset.
This feature is handy if you want to keep unread items or ones that you’ve starred for some reason.
Who Sends Me the Most Email?
One frequent request I get from people is “how do I find and delete email from the most frequent sender?”. The short answer is there is no filter for that information. Google provides a lot of filters and options, but “most frequent sender isn’t one of them”.
There are various tools or services that can assist. One example is emailanalytics.com. They are a service that interacts with your Google email. They are primarily designed to provide stats to businesses on how their support or sales teams are performing. However, you can use the paid service as an individual.
Below is an idea of the type of data the tool provides. What is appealing is that the stats also include interactions such as emails you sent to them.
Another option comes from Ryan Baumann. This method requires you to download your email data using Google Takeout. You can then apply some GREP commands from the command line. GREP is used on Linux machines.
Once you’ve identified your most frequent senders, you could go about deleting their emails using the steps below.
How to Delete Gmail by Sender (One or Multiple)
Gmail also allows you to delete emails from specific senders. Basically, Google creates a temporary filter on the email address or some other pattern match.
- Glance at your inbox and look for frequent email senders.
- Check the box to the left of one of the emails. You can click different email senders. A series of additional icons will appear.
- Click the More Actions icon above the Tabs. It’s the 3 dot icon .
- Select Filter messages like these.
- A new panel opens with your checked email address or addresses.
- [Optional] You may want to filter out emails with chats or attachments. Simply tick each check box.
- Click the Search button in the lower right.
- Gmail will now show emails from that email filter.
- Check the box in the top left corner to select all the emails that show. If you have more pages, you’ll also see another link, “Select all messages that match this search.”
- Click the Delete icon.
Click the image below to see the 4-minute video on how to delete emails from one email address as well as multiple email addresses. You may use the chapter marks to jump from one example to another. The video will open in a new page aong with the transcript.
How to Delete Gmail Based on Text
The above strategy works well when you want to delete all the content from that sender. However, sometimes, the sender has multiple types of emails, such as “alerts” and “specials” under the same email address. In this case, you want to delete a subset.
For example, I use a security plugin that sends various emails ranging from webinars to alerts. If I look at conversations, I can tell there are items I want to delete.
You might notice that when you filter Gmail by typing in the search bar, you get an additional menu that appears below the search box. These choices provide more refinement options. For example, you can filter for unread emails.
One refinement to searching by text is to use the subject: modifier. In the example above, Gmail will look for “Wordfence.com” anywhere. However, if I just wanted to find emails where “wordfence” was in the Email subject line, I could type:
How to Delete Gmail by Message Size
This method is best suited to finding emails that are very large and add to your storage problems. Regarding an email attachment, I’ll often end up with files in multiple locations. If the attachment is important, you want to make sure that you’ve downloaded and put it on your hard drive. In the example below, I used the search criteria of 10M, but you can change that value.
- Go to the top of your Inbox.
- In the search box area, type larger:10m.
- Your email will show emails that are greater than 10Mb.
- Check any emails you wish to delete.
- Click the Delete icon.
How to Delete Old Emails by Age
Although Google has added some time filters to Gmail, there are several handy search operators that use two formats. The first format uses a date format and a time operator. The operators which can be typed into the search bar include:
For example, if I wanted to delete some old emails that were before January 1, 2010, I could enter: before: 01/01/2010
Based on your time query, you might wish to add another search query. In the example below, I’m using two search operators. The first [A] is date driven and the second is the email subject [B]. The end result is I’ll see email messages before 1/1/2010 and have the word “westhost” in the subject line.
Another time option is even more granular and allows you to specify the number of days, months, or years. For example, in the search bar, you can type:
This command will pull up email items you’ve received within the past 24 hours.
How to Recover Deleted Gmail Items
Gmail does have a safeguard when it comes to deleted emails. This is helpful if you’ve mistakenly deleted unread emails. They disappear from your Inbox or another tab, but they remain for 30 days. This is why our storage number doesn’t immediately change.
The deleted emails get temporarily stored in the Trash folder. You can see this folder in the left folder pane. The emails in this folder get purged every 30 days unless you opt to do it sooner. This means you can restore and move these emails to a different folder.
- From the left folder pane, select Trash. Or you can type in:trash in the search box.
- Find the emails you wish to restore.
- Check the box to the left of each email you’d like to recover.
- Click the Move to icon on the top toolbar.
- Select the destination folder for the emails.
Sometimes when you apply a search option to your email, you can get in a stuck state. In other words, you click the X in the search bar to clear the results and then click away. The problem is your search results may still be there. Even if you hit the Refresh button, the same email results show.
My workaround is to click Inbox from the left navigation pane.
Gmail offers many ways to bulk delete your emails that can help you clean up your inbox. These range from deleting all emails from one sender to deleting emails larger than a certain size. However, these tips may not get you to “Inbox zero”; they will make it easier to focus on the important items. And, if you go overboard, you’ve got 30 days before those trashed items are gone for good.