Quick Tip: Pruning your Gmail inbox down to size

I’ve been hooked on Gmail for quite some time. In fact, as I’ve likely mentioned before, I get a duplicate of all the incoming email to my work address shoved into my Gmail account because searching and locating email using Gmail is exactly 1.23 million times faster than it is in Outlook on my work machine. Did I mention I hate Microsoft Outlook? Anyway, I’ve been bumping up against Gmail’s 7+ GB free storage limit lately and thought I’d share a quick tip on shaving down that mailbox size using a couple of simple filters. This may be something that everybody knows already, but at the risk of being late to the party, I thought it useful enough to post anyway.

First of all I had already set up label filters for a lot of my email which makes sorting out chat logs, mailing lists, work email etc. a whole lot easier. So I have a label called WorkEmail. In the interest of saving space, I wanted to hunt down files that were work-related, had an attachment, and were older than a specific date. For that I used the following query:
label:WorkEmail has:attachment before:2008/02/01
So obviously this gives me a list of work emails that have attachments and are older than February 1st, 2008.
Now, one thing missing from Gmail is a way of filtering out attachment by type. However, you can use the filename: filter to get that functionality. So if I’m wanting to maximize my cleanup, I might want to filter out the emails that contain pdf files so I would use:
label:WorkEmail has:attachment filename:pdf before:2008/02/01
Once you get the list of filtered emails, click the ‘select All’ link which will highlight the conversations on that page and give you an optional link to select the complete list of emails matching your criteria. Then simply dump them to the trash folder, go through them if you’d like one last time, or just delete them to gain some space back in your Gmailbox.

Have you got any better Gmail hacks for saving space? If so, share it in the comments.

One thought on “Quick Tip: Pruning your Gmail inbox down to size

  1. Have you considered a change of basic email philosophy?

    I’m a convert from Outlook to Gmail too, mainly because I don’t have to worry about syncing my 3 computers.

    I’ve found that keeping too many emails results in information overkill, so I’ve adopted the habit of moving anything I wish to keep which comes in, or is attached to, an email to my data file folders – if I want it synced I put it in Evernote (with tags) or in DropBox.

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