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How to Delete Old Gmail Messages in Bulk Using Filters

While Google gives its email users well over 10 GB of storage for messages, if you're not diligent about decluttering your inbox, you might find yourself running dangerously close to using up that quota. I know this from personal experience.

But Google, being Google, makes it incredibly easy to search for really old messages and delete them in one go.

How It Works

The first step is determining how old a message is to warrant bulk deletion. For argument's sake, let's say two years. Using Gmail's search parameters, you would look for the messages using the search parameter older_than. The search parameter works in days or months.

So if you wanted to search for messages older than two years, you would type:


How to Delete Old Gmail Messages in Bulk Using Filters

You can also use the search parameter before. So messages received two years ago would be found using:


You can then select all messages in the search results by first clicking the select button, and then clicking "Select all conversations that match this search."

Google will show a prompt asking if you're sure you want to delete these messages. Clicking "OK" will move these messages to your trash. (Messages in your trash folder will stay there for 30 days unless you empty it manually.)

If you want to just delete messages in your inbox, be sure to use the following search terms:

in:inbox older_than:24m

Now this method does mean that, unless you've filed away important messages in folders, you could be deleting important messages.

If your aim is to delete only newsletters and impersonal emails, this will require a little bit more effort on your part. You could use the method listed above and delete one page at a time, skimming to make sure you don't delete something you meant to keep.

You could also do away with all unread messages using the following search term:

label:unread older_than:24m

If you haven't read it in two years time, chances are it's not that important.

Another key search parameter to use when trying to clear out space in your Gmail account is size. If you want to delete all messages larger than 20 MB, for example, use the following:


If you've found that Gmail's tabbed inbox has done a good job of categorizing your email, you could use the labels -- Promotions, Social, and Updates -- to delete emails in bulk.

The really slow way to do this, but that would ensure that you don't inadvertently delete something you wanted to hang on to, is to open up newsletters, click the "More" button at the top of the page, and choose "Filter messages like these". Rather than create an actual filter, just click the search icon.

How to Delete Old Gmail Messages in Bulk Using Filters

This will pull up all emails from that contact, which you can then delete in bulk as outlined above.

What tips and tricks do you use for cleaning out your Gmail inbox? Let us know in the comments.