Archive and clean up your Gmail inbox

Considering each letter in an email individually, it may seem that it weighs almost nothing, because it is often just a few lines of text, which can sometimes be supplemented with a link or attachment. However, if the correspondence is active, and the attachments are exactly the attached files, and not links to them, it’s too early or you can “fill up” all the free space in the box. Today we will talk about how to clean it, partially or completely – it’s up to you.

Cleaning up Gmail

Gmail storage is only part of Google Drive , which most users use to store personal data, and therefore the amount of free space in the cloud can decrease on both sides at once, sooner or later approaching the maximum 15 GB available in the free plan. To free up space on the Disk (ideally), you need to act in a complex way, but we will only consider how to clean up the mailbox itself. And, since Gmail is represented by both a web version available in any browser and a mobile application, we will provide a solution to this problem in each of its interpretations.

Preparatory measures

Even if you are as determined as possible to get rid of all the contents of the Google mailbox , you still should not exclude the possibility that sooner or later you will need to contact some (or some) of the letters contained in it. Therefore, before proceeding with their removal, it would be wise to create a backup copy, from which it will be possible to recover using a third-party mail client ( Mozilla Thunderbird and Apple Mail). To do this, you must perform the following steps:

Page for saving data from a Google account

  1. Follow the link above and do one of two things:

    • leave checkboxes in front of all items if you want to create a backup of absolutely all data associated with your Google account;
    • click on the inscription “Deselect” , scroll down the page a little, and check the box only in front of the Gmail service.

  2. Having made your choice, scroll to the very bottom of the page and click on the “Next” button .
  3. At the next stage, you and I will be asked to determine the parameters of the archive with the future backup. Here you can select the following:

    • Receiving method;
    • export type;
    • File format;
    • Archive size;

    It is not necessary to change the default settings, but you can change the method for obtaining a copy of the data, for example, from a link to send it to some cloud storage (but if you are backing up all the data, you obviously should not save it to Google Drive), and also specify the format and size of the archive, if you have a more or less accurate idea of ​​​​how much the entire contents of your mailbox can take.

  4. After specifying the necessary settings, click on the “Create archive” button .
  5. It will start archiving.

    A notification will appear stating that preparing the data archive may take several hours or even several days. But if you only backup mail, this process will take just a few minutes.

    Almost immediately, an email will be sent to your Gmail email address informing you of the request for a data archive from Google services. Just check it out and go back to the copy page.

  6. Once the archive is created, you can download it. To do this, click on the appropriate button on the automatically updated page,

    then enter the password for your Google account,

    and specify the location to save the compressed data file. Click on the “Save” button .
  7. At this preparatory stage, which involves backing up such important data as e-mail, can be considered completed.

Web version

Most users, especially in the corporate segment, work with Gmail email in a browser or in a third-party email client. Let’s look at how to free up space through the web version of the box, getting rid of unnecessary letters, as well as how to perform a complete cleanup, which involves deleting all content.

Option 1: Archiving

It is easy to guess that archiving is the compression of letters, which implies sending them to an archive. It will not be possible to completely clear the Gmail box in this way, but freeing up space in it is no problem.

Note: The archiving procedure allows you to partially or completely empty the mailbox visually first. That is, letters sent to the archive will not be displayed in the “Inbox” list and other sections, but if necessary, they can be found and returned to their original place. In addition, such messages are restored automatically if they receive a response from another user.

Individual messages
In order to send one or more letters to the archive, you must do the following:

  1. On the side or top panel, provided there are several categories (sections) in your mailbox, go to the one (for example, “Unsorted” or “Social networks” ), letters from which you want to archive.
  2. Then you can act according to one of two algorithms, depending on how many elements you plan to interact with – one or more.
    • Right-click (RMB) on the message preview and select the “Archive” item in the interactive menu, or check the box to the left of the sender’s name and use the archive button on the top panel.

      Tip: To send a single letter to the archive, you can also simply hover over it with the cursor and click on the button that appears on the right.

    • Check the box next to the name of the sender of the email you want to archive. Similarly mark the rest of the posts on this page that you intend to archive. Click on the icon with the image of the archive ( “Archive” button ), which will appear on the toolbar above the list of messages. A similar item is available in the context menu.

    A notification will briefly appear in the lower left area of ​​the window, signaling a positive result of the actions you performed.

  3. Follow the steps above for other emails and/or other categories.
  4. This way you can get rid of really unwanted emails while freeing up some storage space in Gmail and Google Drive as well.

All messages
If your task is to completely clean up the mailbox, which implies its transformation into what is called zero inbox, but you are not ready to permanently delete messages, you can send them all to the archive. This is done in just a few clicks.

  1. On the top or sidebar of the Gmail service, go to the category from which you want to archive letters first. Expand the menu of the so far empty checkbox located above the list of messages and select “All” .
  2. Click on the inscription that appears “Select all chains (number) in the “Section Name” section” .
  3. On the top toolbar, click on the button “Archive” .
  4. Letters from the selected section will be sent to the archive.

    Navigate to the next section in the sidebar and repeat the steps in the previous three paragraphs.
  5. This way you will archive absolutely all the contents of your Gmail mail, which means you will free up some space in it.

    Archived messages will still take up some space in your Google Drive storage. They will not appear in the general list, but they can be found through the search,

    as well as in the “All mail” section , which by default is hidden in the “More” additional menu in the sidebar.

Option 2: Complete removal

In the event that you are 100% sure that you will not access the emails contained in your Gmail in the future, and are ready to get rid of them forever, the banal archive will not be enough. The best solution would be to delete messages, some of them or all at once – it already depends on what result you want to achieve in the end.

Individual messages
Deleting individual messages is just as easy as archiving them, the only difference being selecting a menu item or tool in the control panel.

  1. Go to the category of messages whose elements you want to get rid of.
  2. Depending on whether you want to delete one or more emails, do the following:
    • Right-click on the item to be deleted and select “Delete” .
    • Check the boxes to delete the messages, and then click the “Delete” button on the toolbar. The same can be done through the context menu.

    • In both cases, you will need to click “OK” in the pop-up window to confirm the deletion .

  3. Repeat the same steps as above for the rest of the email sections.
  4. For 30 days, these messages will be stored in the Trash , from where they can be restored. After this period, they will be deleted automatically. If you want to erase them right now, follow the steps described in the fifth paragraph of the next part of the article.

All messages
Getting rid of all messages of one category or each of them at once is no more difficult than getting rid of a small part.

  1. Having opened the desired category of letters, expand the menu of the general checkbox and select the item “All” .
  2. Next, click on the inscription that appears “Select all chains (number) in the “Section Name” section” .
  3. Use the “Delete” button on the toolbar or the item of the same name in the context menu called by right-clicking on the selected range.

    In the pop-up window with a question, confirm your intentions by clicking OK .
  4. Follow the same steps for the contents of all other sections with letters in your Gmail email inbox.
  5. Messages deleted in this way will be placed in the Trash , where they will be stored for 30 days. If you intend to permanently get rid of them now, without waiting for the expiration of this period, go to the corresponding section on the sidebar (you may need to expand the “More” item ) and click on the inscription “Empty Trash” .

    To confirm the cleaning, you will need to click “OK” .

  6. Deleting emails and emptying the Trash is the only possible method to completely empty your Gmail inbox and free up space in it and on your disk. Its disadvantage is obvious – messages cannot be restored.

    Also Read: How to Delete Gmail Account

Mobile app

More and more users interact with e-mail through mobile devices, whether smartphones or tablets running one of the two leading operating systems in this segment – Android and iOS . Applications for both of these platforms are made in the same style, which is undoubtedly a plus. Unfortunately, its minus is much more serious – it is simply impossible to select all letters at once and send them to the archive or trash. And yet, let’s take a closer look at how to partially or, with due diligence and perseverance, completely clear the Gmail inbox.

Option 1: Archiving

As is the case with most mobile applications, user interaction with Gmail is tied primarily to gestures. Knowing them, you can instantly send unnecessary letters to the archive.

Note: The example below uses an Android smartphone, but as we noted above, the Google mobile mail client looks exactly the same on both iPhone and iPad, supports the same gestures, and allows you to perform the same actions.

  1. Launch the Gmail app. Tap on the three horizontal bars in the upper left corner or horizontally swipe in the direction from left to right to open its menu and go to the category of messages whose contents (in whole or in part) you want to archive.
  2. Next, you should perform one of three chains of actions, depending on whether you want to archive just one, several, or all letters at once.
    • Hold your finger on an unwanted message and swipe the screen from left to right.

      Note: If the result of this gesture is not archiving the letter, but a proposal to postpone it, you should swipe your finger in the opposite direction – from right to left. These gestures can be changed in the app settings.

    • Hold your finger on the message, and then release it – the result of this action will be the appearance of a check mark, indicating a selection. Next, by touching the area with the avatar (the circle with the profile photo or the sender’s initials), select the rest of the unwanted letters. Tap on the  Archive” button that will appear on the top bar.
    • Similarly to the previous case, select all the messages in the section one by one, and then send them to the archive by pressing the button responsible for this action. As you understand, the process of extracting messages in this way can take quite a long time. It is better to perform it in several approaches, as this will help to avoid possible mistakes.
  3. Using the application’s sidebar, navigate to the next category you plan to archive content from and follow the steps in the previous two steps.

  4. Obviously, sending emails to the Gmail archive on mobile devices works in exactly the same way as the web versions of the mail service – the “compressed” content disappears from the general list, but you can find it both through the search and in the All Mail section .

Option 2: Complete removal

To completely delete some or all messages in a mailbox, follow these steps:

  1. Having opened the section with letters that you want to delete, hold your finger on the first one. Further, if necessary, select several or all subsequent elements in the chain by touching the avatar area.
  2. Click on the button with the image of the trash can, which will appear on the top toolbar.
  3. Do the same with messages from other categories.

The contents of the Gmail mailbox you marked will be placed in the “Trash” . As in the case of a PC, this data will be stored there for 30 days. If you want to permanently get rid of them right now, do the following:

  1. Open the side menu of the mobile application and scroll through the list of items presented in it almost to the very bottom.
  2. Find the item “Basket” and tap on it to go to the appropriate section.
  3. Click on “Empty Trash” and confirm your intentions by clicking “Empty” again in the pop-up window.
  4. Archiving and deleting one or more emails in the Gmail mobile app is even easier than in a desktop browser. However, if you want to get rid of the entire contents of the mailbox, you will have to spend a lot of time allocating it yourself.

Recovering deleted emails

If, after clearing your Gmail inbox, you need to access one or more emails, this will be possible only in two cases:

  • Messages have been archived;
  • The messages were deleted less than 30 days ago and the Trash has not been emptied.

We wrote about how to “extract” letters from the archive when we directly examined this method – just use the search in the mailbox or refer to the section of its menu “All Mail” .

If the letters are in the “Trash” , you can either put them in the inbox or mark them as read (pre-selecting if there are more than one),

or move them to the desired category. Both options can be implemented both through the top panel and through the context menu.

As mentioned above, after emptying the Recycle Bin, messages cannot be restored. Gmail mailbox data saved in a backup copy (part of the article “Preparatory Measures” ) can only be restored in two mail clients (Mozilla Thunderbird and Apple Mail) – they must be imported into the program or manually pasted into a special folder.


Clearing your Gmail email is easy, and if done right, it will not only get rid of junk emails, but also free up storage space provided by Google. But, since this procedure is irreversible (complete removal), think carefully before proceeding with its implementation.

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