Gmail is getting full, what to do next ?

Six years after using Gmail, my Gmail is getting full … according to the line in the footer of Gmail, I have only 400 MB of free space.

You are currently using 7003 MB (93%) of your 7467 MB.

So, how can I delete the large emails from Gmail ? In other words, how can I delete the large attachments ? Unfortunately, you cannot sort your emails in Gmail by mail size, and you cannot filter the large emails from your inbox as well (so much for a software from the search giant …). I searched the net and the Gmail help center for a few days, and concluded that there are many people have the same problem, but there is no solution from Gmail.

I guess some solutions are on the way from Google but not much time I can wait. I have tried the IMAPsize but it is just too unstable. So I finally settled with the only possible way – use an email client to download the mails from Gmail via IMAP, and manage the large mails from there.

I decided to use Thunderbird and here are the steps …

  1. Download and install Thurderbird – it is straightforward;
  2. First-time start up will ask for your email login information – enter your Gmail email address and the password, Thunderbird will then smart enough to detect the correct IMAP and SMTP server names and ports.
  3. Thunderbird will next start downloading the message headers to your PC. In my case it took a few minutes for over 40,000 emails.
  4. The default view of Thunderbird will not show the email size, add the email size column by clicking the “column” icon in the upper right corner (see the picture below).
  5. Now you can sort the emails by size and determine which emails you want to delete.
  6. Since the Thunderbird only download the message header but not the content, if you want to check the content before you delete the mail then you can click the connection icon in the lower right corner such that it can download the emails (see the picture below). But of course, it will take some time and use up your computer disk space if you have many emails like me.
  7. Now your selected mails are deleted, but those are actually moved to Gmail Trash folder only.
  8. So, logon to your Gmail again, go to the Trash folder and empty it to reclaim the space.

About an hour later, I reclaimed some 600 MB of space already. Not bad !!

Update 1: After some of these exercises, I decided to give myself a break / treat – just purchased 20 GB additional storage for US$ 5 a year. No more worry …

Author: Michael Yung

Michael possessed over 30 years of experience in Information Technology with focuses on complex application development, database technologies and IT strategy. He also spent the last 20 years in Internet technology, eCommerce development / operations, web usability, computer security and Public Key Infrastructure technologies.

4 thoughts on “Gmail is getting full, what to do next ?”

  1. You can search your gmail for large attachments… example to look for stuff 5Mb you’ll type this under search no quotes “size:5m”


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