Email quickly piles up, doesn’t it? One day you’re breezing through inbox zero and the next you’re bumping up against Gmail’s 15GB free storage limit.
When this happens, sending and receiving new emails grinds to a halt. Attachments fail to upload, images don’t display properly, and your inbox turns into a bloated, unreliable mess.
The good news? With a few adjustments, you can reclaim your Gmail storage space and get your account back to maximum efficiency.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover step-by-step strategies to clear out your Gmail and free up storage room. From tweaking attachments to deleting threads to utilizing Google Drive, we’ve got you covered.
Let’s dive in!
- Checking Your Current Gmail Storage Usage
- Reducing Email Attachment File Sizes
- Cleaning Out Large Existing Emails
- Removing Large Attachments from Existing Emails
- Using Google Drive for Attachment Storage
- Reviewing Other Google Services Using Your Storage
- Upgrading to a Paid Google One Membership
- Frequently Asked Questions About Gmail Storage Management
- Recap and Conclusion
Checking Your Current Gmail Storage Usage
Before making any changes, it’s important to understand exactly how much free space you have left. Here’s how to check your current Gmail storage usage:
- Go to Gmail.com and login
- Click the Gear icon ⚙️ in the top right corner
- Select Settings from the dropdown menu
- Click the tab labeled Storage along the top
This will display a storage usage bar showing your usage breakdown and how much space you have remaining out of 15GB.
On Android Devices
- Open the Gmail app on your Android phone or tablet
- Tap the 3 Line Menu icon ☰ in the top left
- Scroll down and tap Settings
- Select General settings
- Choose Storage
You’ll then see a percentage and visual representation of how much free storage you have left.
Keep an eye on this – ideally you want to keep it above 50-60% so you have plenty of buffer room. Once usage hits 90% or more, you’ll want to take action to avoid maxing out completely.
Reducing Email Attachment File Sizes
One of the biggest Gmail storage hogs are email attachments like documents, photos, videos and more.
Luckily, there are some easy ways to shrink these files before sending them so they take up less space.
Convert Images to Lower Resolution
Before inserting images into Gmail messages, run them through an image compression tool like TinyPNG or Optimizilla. These tools remove EXIF data and convert images to smaller file formats like JPEG and WebP.
For example, Optimizilla was able to compress a 5MB photo down to just 850KB – an 83% reduction!
Be careful not to sacrifice too much quality when compressing images. But moderate compression like 70-80% will be unnoticeable in most cases and significantly reduce storage usage.
Convert Docs and Sheets to PDF
Microsoft Office files like Word docs and Excel sheets tend to be much larger than other formats.
Before emailing them, convert these files to high-quality PDFs which are typically 75-90% smaller.
To do this:
- Open the Word or Excel file
- Click File > Save As
- Choose PDF from the file type dropdown
- Click Save to convert to PDF
Then you can attach the slim PDF version rather than the bulky Office file.
Zip Attachments Before Sending
You can combine multiple files into a single ZIP archive which takes up significantly less storage space.
For example, combining three 10MB files into a ZIP reduces their combined size to around 15MB total – a 50% reduction!
Send the ZIP file instead of the originals, then the recipient can extract the archives themselves.
Cleaning Out Large Existing Emails
In addition to altering attachments, you’ll also want to clear out storage-hogging emails already in your inbox.
Unsubscribe from Unneeded Email Lists
Go through your updates and promotions tabs and unsubscribe from any non-essential emails. These promotional messages quickly accumulate and congest your inbox.
- Open the email
- Scroll to the bottom and look for an “Unsubscribe” link
- Click the link and confirm you want to stop receiving messages
Stopping unnecessary emails from coming in prevents them from continuing to eat up your storage.
Delete Big Email Threads
Some long email chains, especially those with attachments, can take up over 100MB of space each.
Sort your inbox by size to identify these space hogs:
- In your inbox, click the gear icon ⚙️
- Select Sort by size
- Review large threads and delete ones you no longer need
This includes chains forwarded multiple times with redundant quotes. Tidy up your inbox by removing anything over 25MB that you realistically won’t need to reference later.
Enable Auto-Cleanout of Old Emails
Set Gmail to automatically delete old emails that you’re unlikely to need anymore. This prevents decades of messages from accumulating.
To enable auto-cleanout:
- Go to Gmail Settings
- Under “Auto-remove”, choose “Enable”
- Select an age threshold like “Older than 1 year”
Gmail will regularly delete emails older than your set time period to free up space.
Removing Large Attachments from Existing Emails
Even after cleaning out threads, you may still have a significant amount of storage tied up in attachments scattered across old emails.
Here’s how to find and remove the largest attachment files:
- In Gmail search, enter: has:attachment larger:10MB
- This will display all emails with attachments over 10MB in size
- Open an email and click the attachment name to download it
- Then delete the email to remove the attachment from Gmail storage
You can then store the downloaded files in Google Drive or another cloud storage provider if you need to preserve them.
Repeating this for different size thresholds helps eliminate massive attachment files consuming your storage.
Using Google Drive for Attachment Storage
Once your storage is clear, make changes to prevent it from filling up again so quickly.
One strategy is sending new attachments to Google Drive rather than attaching them directly in Gmail.
Copy Existing Attachments to Drive
First, transfer existing attachments out of your inbox:
- Install the Move to Drive Chrome extension
- Open an email with an attachment
- Click the extension icon to copy the attached file to Drive
- Repeat for other emails to clear out attachments
Set Gmail to Auto-Add Attachments to Drive
Now new attachments will automatically save to Drive rather than Gmail:
- Go to Settings
- Enable “Add attachments to Drive”
After this change, any file attachments you send or receive will be stored in Drive with a link inserted in the email body. This avoids doubling up on storage space.
Reviewing Other Google Services Using Your Storage
It’s not just Gmail – your Google storage quota is shared across apps like Google Photos, Contacts, Calendar, and more.
Quickly check if any other products are unexpectedly eating up your space:
- Go to Google Drive
- Click your profile picture in the top right
- Select Manage your Google Account
- Review the “Storage” section for anything using more than expected
If Google Photos or Contacts have built up large caches, you may want to clean them out too.
Upgrading to a Paid Google One Membership
If all else fails, consider paying to upgrade your storage. Google One subscriptions give you more space across Gmail, Drive, and Photos.
Pricing tiers include:
- 100GB: $1.99 per month
- 200GB – $2.99 per month
- 2TB – $9.99 per month
Upgrading can immediately resolve storage limits and provide breathing room. With 2TB, you likely won’t have to worry about clearing space for years.
Frequently Asked Questions About Gmail Storage Management
Here are answers to some common questions people have about dealing with full Gmail accounts:
What do I do when my Gmail storage is full after deleting everything?
If your Gmail still shows full even after extensively cleaning it out, this is likely caused by cached attachments and images. Try clearing your browser cache and cookies, signing out of Gmail, and signing back in to force it to recalculate your actual usage.
Why is my Gmail storage full after deleting everything?
In some cases, attachments and images in your emails are not fully deleted from Google’s servers even after removing the messages. Try using Google Takeout to export all your email and attachments, then delete the Takeout data from your account. This forces a full reset of your storage.
How to check Gmail storage limit?
Recap and Conclusion
With creative attachment management, extensive inbox cleaning, Drive utilization, and account upgrades – you can conquer even the most bloated Gmail account.
The key is regularly reviewing your storage usage and establishing good maintenance habits. Follow the tips in this guide and you’ll keep your Gmail lean and mean.
What strategies have worked well for you when dealing with a full Gmail inbox? Let us know in the comments below!