What to do When Your Gmail Account is Full

by: - Last updated on: September 28th, 2020

According to Google, that 15 GB of free offered storage should be more than enough for an average person, who receives mails on a daily basis. Well, when one discovers that “average” is not exactly a word defining its personality, or its inbox, issues appear. Filling up 15 GB of space just with emails is not an easy task but, we have found that this happens, and usually to people who are unaware of why their Gmail account is getting filled up.

Technically, when your Google Mail Inbox is almost full, Gmail will bounce all incoming emails and will also stop the owner from sending any new messages, while completely taking control over the situation. Thus, filled Gmail accounts become useless due to storage issues and there are only a few good suggestions to get it back in a working stage.

Gmail is FULL? No problem

Too many emails

Practically, getting some storage space back can be done simply by deleting trash items, spam, old newsletter and useless emails, which sounds simpler in theory than in reality. Taking in consideration that usually, Gmail can be filled only by thousands of emails, it will be quite hard to distinguish important letters from useless junk, small items from big attachments and so on. To avoid spending weeks in this task, we have a couple of advices that will help you:

Forward Messages to a New Account


Perhaps one of the easiest methods to get rid of a full Gmail account is to create a completely new one, and have all of your old messages moved there. Of course, this means you will have to search for old messages from a completely new address, contacts will have to be exported in order to properly search but, at least you can enjoy the benefits of a Gmail account once again, without paying for any fees and without having to let people know that you created a new address.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Sign up for a completely new Google account.
  2. On the old account, click on the Settings wheel (upper right-hand corner) and then on the actual Settings button.
  3. Now from the upper menu, go to the Forwarding and POP/IMAP menu and enable POP for all email, if it’s not already done. Then, from the dropdown section, chose to delete Gmail’s copy, just like in the picture below.  Gmail settings
  4. On the newer account, browse once more to Settings and go for the Accounts and Import menu.
  5. Now click on the “Add a POP3 mail account you own” button and complete the required fields with your old email address (filled in full), account name and password. Leave all remaining options as shown and complete the process by pressing on the Add Account button.
  6. Wait for Google to transfer all emails onto the new account (this may take even hours, depending on the number of existing emails) and once the process is done, login onto your old Gmail address.
  7. Go to the trash section and delete all emails, to have once again a fresh new Inbox.

Move the Inbox Locally

store emails on pc

Another alternative would be to manually move all of your existing emails locally, on the computer. In order to do this we will have to enable once again POP forwarding on the current Gmail account and also, configure a 3rd party email handler to download all your emails. At the end of this process, all existing emails will be deleted from Google’s Inbox and stored on the PC.

  1. Once logged in your Google Mail account, click on the Settings wheel and then on the Settings button itself.
  2. Go to the Forwarding and POP/IMAP section and enable POP for all mail, by selecting the first radio button.
  3. From the drop-down menu, chose to delete Gmail’s copy and then click on the Save Changes button.
  4. Using a local email client, like Microsoft Outlook, Apple Mail, Windows Mail, Thunderbird or others, manually download all of your email on the local PC. To do this, Google has a couple of guides tailored for each client. Simply click here and select the client of choice.

After following these steps, make sure you empty the Trash section of your Gmail account, because it now contains all of your old messages. Also, after a while, you can repeat these steps to transfer even more messages on the local client.

Clean Up the Inbox

Clean up mail

Throughout the time we’ve learnt that spring cleaning the Inbox takes a lot of time, especially when you don’t even know from where to begin. Depending on the case, you must figure out yourself which are the most important items of your inbox and which entries should be kept, or not.

[color-box color=”white”] Also Read: My Gmail Account got Hacked – What to do and How to Prevent This? [/color-box]

A first good tactic would be to use a 3rd party service for finding really big email, which usually take over the majority of the Inbox. In my case, I’ve found that around 3% of my emails were occupying around 77% of my total storage space so, deleting these giants was the first thing I did.


In order to accomplish this with ease, we strongly recommend using Find Big Mail, a service also featured in our Gmail productivity tools round-up. All you have to do is navigate on the official website, enter the email address in the upper section and wait a couple of minutes until the magic is finished. At the end of it, your Gmail account will contain a couple of new labels, filled with your biggest emails, sorted by size.

[color-box color=”white”] Also Read: Daily App: Gmail (iOS) – Google Mail Rocks on iOS [/color-box]

As a back-up, you can also manually search emails basing on their size, by using Gmail’s own search box. Here are a couple of pre-defined strings to help you in the quest, which can be inserted in the search query:

  • Larger:5m – will find emails that are larger than 5MB
  • Older_than:1y – will find messages older than 1 year

Also, to find only emails that contain attachments (they usually tend to be the largest), you can make use of the following queries:

  • Has:attachment  – find emails with attachments
  • From:me label:sent – can be added to distinguish sent emails

After finding the emails that look suspiciously big, scan through the list and see if any are worth saving. If not, simply use the Select All box and delete them all. From point on, you can save a bit more space by emptying the Trash and Spam folders, or by manually navigating through entries and deleting those that are not useful.

Pay for More Storage


When all the above have helped, but not enough, the ultimate solution is to pay for more storage. After Google unified their email solution with other popular services under the roof of their Cloud platform, Google Drive, paying for more email storage will also mean an upgrade of your cloud account.

At the moment, Google offers 10 GB of free email storage and 5 GB for files, which can be upgraded to 25 GB (for both services) for just $2.49/month or, to 100 GB for $4.99/month. Those wishing to extend this number even further can go up to 16TB, depending on how much are they willing to pay.

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  1. Hi, the advice is useful. My problem is that I turned on archiving of emails and it is not selective about what it archives – indeed I have discovered that everything is archived. I have deleted about 4 years of archived emails and this has bought me some space. Is it possible to reseat the archiving feature so it doesn’t archive everything? Thanks for your help.

  2. Quick query on #1 – After we have transferred the mails to a new account, should we change the settings to the original in both?

    1. Liza, it depends. You can go back to original settings on both till the time you need to worry about depleting storage on your original account. Another idea is to make a second new account and repeat the process to auto-forward your future emails to that account and ensure you don’t worry about the primary (original) account getting full.

      Hope I didn’t end up confusing you.