How to Quickly and Easily Free Up Gmail Storage

Gmail offers an ample amount of storage (15GB if you use Google Drive), but even so, some of us occasionally run up against our limits.

A service called FindBigMail used to be a quick and easy solution. After granting the service access, it looked through your Gmail account (it only saw an email's attributes, not its contents), and returned a list of emails that were taking up a lot of space. Then it created a series of nested labels for you, so you could quickly pull up emails that were, say, larger than 100 KB, or larger than 5 MB. You could then move the attachments from those emails into another storage (if you chose), or just delete the unnecessary ones to free up space in your account.

While FindBigMail, technically, still works, the developers behind it have all but abandoned the service, since Gmail's built-in search makes the functionality largely obsolete.

In November of last year, the Gmail team very quietly announced the ability to search for large attachments, and even arrange the results with certain time-based parameters. So, for example, if you want to find emails that are larger than 1MB and more than one year old, you could type this:

size:5M older_than:1y

This is far from the only Gmail search trick. The full list of Gmail search operands is almost obscenely long. If you know anything about the email you're looking for, Gmail can find it. This is, after all, Google email.

Because of the ample storage and the ease with which you can easily find and delete large amounts of mail, many use Gmail as a default backup for services they use, like Pinterest, Flickr, or Facebook. Whatever service you want to back up, a quick search through IFTTT for that service + gmail should bring up a recipe or two that will allow you to do just that with minimal setup. Add a quick Gmail filter to make sure those backups skip the inbox and get marked as read, and you won't even know it's there.


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