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Manually reclaiming storage space in Gmail

Our email addresses are the cornerstones of our digital life. We not just use it to send and receive emails but also use them as usernames to sign into various other apps and websites.

All these cause us to receive different types of emails - ranging from personal correspondences with friends and family that we hold important to unsolicited spam messages. Over time, this accumulation eats into the storage of 15 GB available on our Google accounts -  you have to bear in mind that the storage space for your Google Account is shared between three Google products - Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Photos - and bring about unintended consequences where important emails addressed to that email address are bounced back off due to lack of adequate storage on your Google account. 

Note: Since June 1, 2021, if you remain inactive or go over your storage quota for 2 years or longer, all of your emails may be deleted. More info is available at https://support.google.com/googleone/answer/10214036?hl=en.

So, if you see the storage on your Google Account is approaching its limit - and you can see it at the bottom left of your Gmail inbox screen, you would need to consider ways to recover storage space before running into other inconveniences.


There are several steps to approach this task and we shall look at each of them in some detail. 
Using the Google One Storage Manager option

This option, accessed via https://one.google.com/storage/management, works irrespective of whether you have a Google One subscription or not. Therein, you will be shown some useful ways to recover your Google Account storage space such as:



But what if those details were not the ones we want to delete (besides the ones in Spam and Trash) from our Gmail?

In that case, the available options are to (a) run searches in your Gmail and then, (b) delete the irrelevant emails and keep the important ones. 

For starters, I recommend reviewing some details in your Gmail inbox:
  1. From your Gmail inbox default layout, review the messages under Social, Promotions, Updates, and Forum to determine if you are able to bulk delete.
  2. Review your label lists to determine if you can delete emails related to some of them which would include alerts, notifications, or newsletters.
  3. The criteria on ways to determine redundant emails. 
The Search operators you can use with Gmail help article includes the list from which we are going to borrow the commonly used queries to find the redundant emails based on our requirements for #3 above.

Some of the commonly used ones are:
  1. Specify the sender
  2. Words in the subject line
  3. Messages that match multiple terms
  4. Messages that have an attachment
  5. Messages from a mailing list
  6. Attachments with a certain name or file type or Messages that have a Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, or Slides attachment or link
  7. Search for messages sent during a certain time period or Search for messages older or newer than a time period using d (day), m (month), and y (year)
  8. Messages in a certain category
  9. Messages larger or smaller than a certain size in bytes
The task henceforth is to run the relevant searches, select and delete the redundant messages (if possible, in bulk) and then, permanently delete them from Trash to reclaim their storage space. 

But what if the recovered storage space is still too little to serve any real purpose?

In that case, you have to consider the option of moving emails out of your primary account and backing them up using either:
  1. A secondary account - You can fetch from another Gmail address using POP3 or the ShuttleCloud API function.
  2. An email client - You can set up an email client such as Thunderbird, MS Outlook, Windows Live Mail, Mail for Mac, Apple Mail to connect to your Gmail account using POP3 to backup emails contained in your Gmail address.
  3. A third-party utility - There are many available, but specifically for Gmail, I tend to prefer the Got Your Back utility, explained here: https://github.com/jay0lee/got-your-back/wiki.   
Note: While deciding on backups, it is important to keep in mind that the chosen option should be able to restore emails if required. A backup that doesn't restore is no backup at all.

Should you have questions, please post them as comments below. 

Comments

  1. Nice tutorial. Is there any article on unsubscribing.
    I find it difficult to unsubscribe in Yahoo Mail. Clicking unsubscribe one tick would not go away from a selected source.
    In gmail also, the filter is not working correctly . It shows the contents inside the mail inside other senders also

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't written one on unsubscribing in Gmail. I'll look into the possibility of writing one.

      As for your issue with the Gmail filter, you have to add additional details to further refine it.

      Delete

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