When you first get a Gmail account, it seems like you’ll never possibly fill out all the storage space you get for free. But there is a finite limit—for a free user, you can only have up to 15 GB of emails in your inbox, which means you’ll likely need to know how to delete Gmail emails in bulk to continue using your account.
Even if you’re nowhere close to that upper storage limit, you might be frustrated at the sheer clutter of your account. You can make things better either way by deleting emails, but nobody has the time or patience to delete emails one by one.
This guide will teach you everything you need to know about how to delete Gmail emails in bulk quickly and easily.
How to Delete Gmail Emails in Bulk on a Computer
Let’s start with how to delete Gmail emails in bulk on a standard computer. There are a couple of possible angles of attack to take here, but I’m going to cover the easy way.
Basically, the idea is to create a Gmail filter that applies to the type of emails you want to delete. Once you’ve done that, you’ll have the option to bulk delete all emails that meet those qualifications.
How can you do this?
In your Gmail inbox, you’ll see a “Search mail” bar at the top. Click it to bring up a menu of different options you can use to create a custom filter. It looks like this:
Feel free to fill in as many or as few fields as you want. When you’re finished, click Search, and Gmail will populate only the messages that meet all the requirements you listed.
Once you have this list of specific emails available, you can click the checkmark in the upper-left corner to select all messages that appear on this page. By default, you’ll see 50 messages per page. When you do this, you’ll also have a prompt to “Select all conversations that match this search.”
Select this all-encompassing option, then you’ll have the power to delete all these messages at once. In one click, you can literally delete upwards of thousands of messages, ensuring that all of them meet some specific criteria for deletion. It’s really that simple.
The bigger question for most Gmail users is, “how do I know which emails to delete?” There are several approaches here, none of which are strictly right or wrong, but I’d suggest using one or more of the following dimensions to narrow down your inbox:
- Date. Do you really need the messages you sent back and forth in 2011? By utilizing the date feature, you can quickly call up all emails that were sent or received before a certain date, allowing you to make your inbox more contemporarily relevant.
- Size. If you’re brushing up against your upper storage limit, one of your best bets is to filter emails based on size. You can call up all emails above a certain size, such as 3 MB, and delete them all at once or manually review them, downloading the important attachments before getting rid of them altogether.
- Attachments. Similarly, you can filter emails based on whether they have an attachment or not. Attachments tend to be the worst offenders in terms of email size, and they’re easy to review without downloading them individually.
- Subject lines. In some cases, you may be able to weed out emails based on their subject line. For example, if you received a ton of emails about a certain project, but that project is now over, you could delete every email with the name of the project in the subject line.
- Senders. If you have a former client with whom you’re never working again, or if there’s an employee no longer with the company, you can call up every email they sent you and delete them en masse.
Do be careful here. Gmail’s parameters are precise, but there’s a chance you could be forgetting about an important email that happens to match one of the qualifications you’ve chosen. Always double check before hitting “delete” for good. If you need to recover a deleted email, see our guide on how to recover deleted emails in Gmail and Outlook.
How to Delete Gmail Emails in Bulk on Android
If you’re using an Android mobile device, there are also ways to delete Gmail emails in bulk (though in my opinion, the computer process is more convenient).
To start, open the folder where you wish to delete emails. Tap the circular icon to the left of any individual message you wish to delete; you can also press and hold the message to select it. When you do this, you’ll have the option to tap additional emails.
Go down your chosen folder and tap any and all emails you wish to delete. When you’re done, you’ll be able to delete all these emails at once, with a single click.
You can also adjust your settings to make it faster to delete emails in the future. Head to the Settings menu, go to General settings, and click “Swipe actions.” Here, you’ll be able to change the settings for right and left swipes; set the direction of your preference to “delete,” and you’ll be able to swipe messages to delete them much faster in the future.
How to Delete Gmail Emails in Bulk on iPhone
If you’re using the Gmail app on an iPhone or iOS device, you’ll have access to a similar method of deleting Gmail emails in bulk; again, it’s faster and more convenient to use a computer for most users.
To start, open the folder that contains the emails you want to delete. Tap the circular contact icon to the left of one message you’re ready to delete. This will assign it a gray checkmark. From there, you can tap additional emails to mark them.
When you’ve marked all the emails you wish to delete, you can click the delete button to delete them all at once.
If you use Apple Mail to manage your Gmail account, you may be able to use the “select all” option in any folder to select every message contained within that folder. If you run a search, you can tap Edit, then tap and hold an email bubble and slide your finger down the screen to select multiple emails and trash them.
Bonus: Using a Third-Party Plugin or Tool
Google loves to encourage and empower third-party developers, so it makes it easy for other developers to integrate with Gmail. Accordingly, there are dozens of Gmail tools on the market meant to make your Gmail experience more functional, more seamless, or just more convenient. Some of these tools have different filtering or search features that can help you track down messages you no longer need, and some have bulk-deleting capabilities built-in. While you don’t need these third-party tools to bulk delete Gmail emails (as you’ve seen), they may suit your personal preference.
Cleaning up your inbox is just one early step in truly mastering your Gmail productivity. If you’re interested in learning more about your work habits in Gmail, or possibly improving them, you’ll need a tool like EmailAnalytics.
EmailAnalytics is an analytics and data visualization tool that works with Gmail; with a single click, you can integrate it with your (or your employee’s) account, and see detailed visualized metrics on your email habits, including how often you send emails, your top senders and recipients, your busiest times, and your average email response times. There’s a lot to dig into here, so sign up for a free trial today, and learn what it’s all about!
Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc.com, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. He keynoted the 2013 MarketingProfs University, and won the “Entrepreneur Blogger of the Year” award in 2015 from the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before exiting it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics, and co-host of the podcast The Entrepreneur Cast.