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 …

Running Gmail with your Kindle 2

Imagine the following scenario …

  • You’re a stranger in a foreign land / airport;
  • Your smartphone is out of juice or you don’t want to pay hefty data roaming fee;
  • You cannot find a (free) WiFi hotspot for your laptop;
  • And you need to answer some emails via Gmail.

Sounds familiar ? Now you can do that if you have a Kindle 2 (or Kindle 3), as long as you can live with some constraints. As many of you already know, there is a very simple browser come with the Kindle 2, and there is a mobile version of Gmail with minimal graphics. Therefore, it makes sense to use that simple browser to access the simple web application. The constraints and preparation works are:

  1. It works only for countries / cities that support by Amazon Kindle 2’s WhisperNet  (the flip side of this is you don’t need to pay expensive data roaming fee to check emails !!)
  2. The screen of Kindle 2 is relative small;
  3. The keyboard of Kindle is hard to type;
  4. There is no scroll up and down function (you need to use Next Page and Prev Page keys);
  5. You cannot read / write double byte / Unicode characters;
  6. You will not able to attach files.
  7. In the settings of the browser, turn on Advanced view mode and turn on Javascript

Still want to continue ? OK, let’s start, step-by-step :

  1. Turn on the wireless in your Kindle. Then go to “Home” / “Menu” / “Experimental”, and select “Basic Web”
  2. You will see the bookmark page, and “Menu” / “Enter URL”, and enter
  3. You will see the basic login page and enter your Gmail account information.
  4. Somehow, Gmail will display the usual Gmail screen with all the mails which makes the screen very busy. I believe Gmail do this because they know that the request is not from a mobile device. Now, go to the URL bar on top, and enter again !!
  5. Now you shall see the mobile Gmail email list page.
  6. Press “Next Page” key till you reach the last page, locate “Compose Mail” command …
  7. Enter the from address, to address, subject line and mail content. Add CC, or BCC if needed. Press “Send” and that’s it …

Don’t forget to “Sign out” (in the mobile Gmail page footer) before you turn off the Kindle !!

Enjoy …

From Pine to Gmail


Yesterday, Google released some themes for their Gmail platform … in fact, 30 new themes. Many of them are simply new color schemes but some include beautiful backgrounds. It really spices up my “email world”. I picked the “Mountains” theme as my default Gmail theme for now, but I have to admit the “Terminal” theme is really really cool for old dogs like me. 

It reminds me the good old days back in 1990s when the Pine (Program for Internet News & Email) from University of Washington was my favorite Internet tool.

Try it out !!


Couple of days ago, there was a blog post about how Gmail team improved the loading sequence, trimmed the 24 http requests down to just 4 requests. A few utilities and tips were covered in the post, but I think the key messages they sent across were “the need for speed” and “the obsession of great performance”.

In the good old days, we measured the greatness of a program by how fast it could run, how small the runtime file was and how smart the logic we coded. It’s the obsession of great programming, you know. Compare this to the generation of developers we have now, the first question they usually ask about a new task of programming is “where can I copy it ?”. What a difference ?!

I can understand the merit of DRY (Don’t repeat yourself), but really, there is no shortcut to be a great developer. The only way is – obsess to your work !!