I was recently with my brother and noticed on his iPhone that he had over 10,000 unread email messages. After I picked up the fragments from my mind that had literally just blown up, I asked him why he had so many unread emails.
He laughed and explained that this was not his work email, rather it was his personal Gmail account and that the vast majority of emails were not important. When I asked why he didn’t delete them, his answer was: Gmail only allows you to view 50 emails per page so the time it would take to go through them and delete 50 at a time was just not worth it.
Fortunately for him and perhaps many of you out there, Gmail does allow you to delete mass amounts of email at once. Here are two of the most common needs when it comes to cleaning up your Gmail account.
Deleting all emails in your inbox:
Go to the inbox of the tab you want to clear out (Gmail is now sorted into four tabs: Primary, Social, Promotions and Updates).
Click in the box in the top left corner – this will select all 50 emails on the current page. If you click the trashcan this action will only delete the 50 emails on the page you’re viewing, which is why my brother believed it would be such a cumbersome project to delete all his old emails.
To delete all the email in your inbox you need to take the extra step and click over to the right where it says, “Select all x conversations in Primary” and then click the trashcan. If you have many emails it may take a few minutes to finish the deletions, so do not be alarmed if it looks like it is not doing anything.
2. Deleting all ‘unread’ emails in your inbox
Perhaps you want to keep all the read emails (for now) and only delete unread emails.
To do this simply type in either “unread” in the search bar at the top left to delete from your primary inbox or “label: unread” if you want to delete all unread emails across all tabs. Then go through the same process as above.
If you feel like you have deleted something in error, the deleted emails will be in your Gmail trash can for 30 days; after that they are purged.
It is easy for email to get out of hand, especially personal email accounts. So, if your Gmail inbox is a disaster, as my brother’s was, take a few minutes and clean it up using the steps above. I bet you will feel better afterwards.