Gmail Storage Full? How to Quickly Fix the Issue [Guide]

Free up some space without breaking the bank

by: - Last updated on: June 19th, 2021
Key Takeaways
  • Gmail has 15 GB of free storage, which is actually shared by other Google services like Google Drive and Google Photos.
  • Getting some storage space back can be done by deleting trash items, spam, old newsletter, and useless emails, which sounds simpler in theory than in reality.
  • You can free up space by also deleting the file versions on Google Drive and restricting Google Photos to High Quality.

According to Google, that 15 GB of free storage offered 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 storage is getting filled up.

Gmail storage full

Technically, when your Google Mail Inbox is almost full, Gmail will bounce all incoming emails and stop the owner from sending any new messages while completely controlling 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

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. However, considering that Gmail usually 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 on this task, we have a couple of pieces of advice that will help you:

1. Start with Analyzing the Storage space

It’s essential to analyze your Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Photos space distributions so you can manage your Gmail account’s storage space. The storage of Gmail is analyzed as follows:

When you go to the Drive storage page and select “View details,” you’ll see your total storage and your used storage as seen here:

google drive storage space

Having identified which service makes use of the largest amount of storage, you can configure the service accordingly. So, if you wish to free up space with that service, you can.

2. Make use of the Google Storage Management tool

The Storage Management page can provide you with a good overview of what is taking up space. Using this screen, you can review deleted email messages that you haven’t yet removed, spam and attachments, and large files.

By clicking each item, you’ll be able to review what Google thinks you might want to get rid of, and you can decide whether to delete them individually or all at once.

gmail storage management

This can only help you as much, so let’s proceed to handle this more surgically.

3. Clean Up the Inbox

Clean up mail

Throughout the time, we’ve learned 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.

A first good tactic would be to use a 3rd party service for finding really big emails, which usually takes 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.

Find-big-mail

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.

Update: Unfortunately, Find Big mail is down for now. But we have you covered with alternate solutions. So read on.

As a backup, 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 this 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.

4. Forward Emails 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 search properly but, at least you can enjoy the benefits of a Gmail account once again, without paying any fees and without having to let people know that you created a new address.

Sending-Emails

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.

5. 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 to 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 your emails 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 to the local client.

6. Archive Gmail emails with Google Takeout

The Google Takeout feature can help users clear a little bit of space from the Gmail storage by archiving Gmail emails into a particular file format and saving them to the system drive.

To do this, visit the Google Takeout page, sign in with your Gmail account, select the Mail checkbox, choose the backup frequency as Export Once, and Create Export. Once the data is ready, you can download it to your PC.

7. Clean up Google Drive and Google Photos

Still don’t have enough room? Well, Gmail isn’t the only service hogging up your storage space. Google Drive and Google Photos can fill up quickly if you upload images or other files in their full quality. So check your settings in Google Photos and ensure that your upload quality is set to High Quality rather than Original.

Similarly, you can monitor the storage of your Google Drive account here. You can filter by file size by clicking “Storage used” on the right side. Consider also checking the “Shared with me” folder which also adds up to your storage space.

Do note that Google Drive stores previous versions of files, and these can consume additional space. Depending on how much you’ve edited the files, you may have previous versions taking up your storage space. The previous version of a file can be found by right-clicking the file and selecting Manage revisions. Delete a previous version and free up space by clicking the X button.

8. Pay for More Storage

upgrade

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 like Google Drive and Google Photos, paying for more email storage will also mean an upgrade of your cloud account.

At the moment, Google offers 15 GB of free integrated storage which can be upgraded to 100GB at $1.99 a month (or $19.99 a year) and up to 30TB at $149.99 a month under the Google One bouquet. There are other storage options like 100 GB, 200 GB, 2 TB, 10 TB, and 20 TB as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, we will try to answer some of the frequently asked questions around Google storage.

1. What counts toward the Google Storage limit?

With Google, users are allowed to store up to 15 GB of data. While this seems generous, old messages, photos, and other documents stored on Google Drive can quickly outstrip this amount. The Google Storage limit includes your Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Photos.

2. What happens with Gmail if the Storage limit is reached?

Once your data usage reaches a certain threshold, Gmail displays a warning in your inbox. When you have exceeded your storage quota for three months, Gmail will display a message that says “You are out of space to send or receive emails.”

The only thing you can do at this point is viewing all messages in your account but not send or receive new emails. Your account must be downsized to below the storage quota in order to resume normal operation.

3. What happens to your files when you breach the limit?

In the event you exceed the storage limit on Google Drive for two years, Google may delete all your content, including your photos, Gmail messages, and files in Google Drive. You will be notified multiple times if your content is at risk of being removed, so you will have plenty of time to take action.

4. Will deleting emails free up Gmail storage

Of course, it does. But you need to be smart while deleting the emails. As we have explained above, you need to search for big emails with large attachments and bulk delete those unnecessary emails. You can also search for useless subscription emails and bulk delete them all to save up some space.

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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.