Deleting LOTS of Emails at One Time in Gmail

How to Delete Email in Bulk in Gmail at ASlobComesClean.com

I’ve talked about paper clutter and how I have greatly reduced it.

Whenever it comes up, though, people ask about email.

Like I did in that post, let me be clear that I’m no Email Guru. At all.

I’m the one who doesn’t even mind the red numbers on her iPhone, remember? But I have GREATLY reduced the number of emails in my inbox over the past year. From more than 17,000 unread (for real) to usually less than 100.

That last sentence lets you know what you’re getting into around here.

I must give ALL credit for what I learned about gmail to Erin Chase of $5 Dinners. She’s the Email Queen. She’s a founder of Digital Colab, and I went to a session with her last summer where she gave all her hints.

She has lots of them. I’m just going to share the biggie. The big tip that helps me delete emails in bulk.

Doing it this way is actually fun, especially when you’re deleting thousands at a time.

Step by step, here’s how you do it:

Go to an email from someone/something whose emails you receive regularly. While you’re in that email, click on “More” at the top. Then click on “Filter messages like these” as seen in the picture below.

Deleting Email in Bulk in Gmail at ASlobComesClean.com

Once you do that, you get to set up a filter for these messages. If you want to filter by sender, leave it as is. If not, you can filter by the subject line of the email, which you’ll have to type into the box under “Subject.”

Then click in the bottom right corner where it says: “Create filter with this search”

Filtering Email in Gmail

Next you apply a label. You can either come up with a new label, or add it to an existing one. Adding it to an existing one means that emails from various senders or subject lines can all be under the same label.

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Type in your new label (or check an existing one).

Creating Labels in Gmail

Now for THE MOST IMPORTANT PART!! See where my arrow is in the photo below? Click on that. Down at the bottom of the dropped-down box where it says “apply filter to 2 matching conversations.”

That is where things get awesome. Not really in this example with 2 matching conversations, but in the ones that have 3,000 matching conversations. Y’know, when you do this for the first time in . . . ever.

Deleting Email in Bulk in Gmail

Click on the blue “create filter” button:

Gmail Email management

You’ll go back to your original email. It’s now labeled. Look at the top and find the new label. Click on that.

What to do when you have let email get out of control

Now you will see all of the emails in your inbox with that label. Click at the top to check them all, and then . . . .

Help for Out of Control Email at ASlobComesClean.com

Hit the lovely delete button!!!

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If you have more emails than fit on that first page, it will ask if you want to delete all conversations with that label.

It gets even better. Once you’ve applied the filter, every email that comes in like that one will already be labeled. That means that if (or when, for people like me) you get behind again, you can just click on the label at the top of the email and it will take you to everything with that label and let you delete. You won’t have to do those first steps again.

If you’re paranoid, you can also archive the messages with the label so they’re gone from your inbox but not gone from your account.

HINT: This is also a great time to take a moment to unsubscribe from email lists that send things you never ever open.

I’m not as good at doing this in Yahoo, but I have figured a few things out and will share soon!

What are your best email management tips?

--Nony


Comments

  1. Taking 10 minutes everyday and deleting/reading my email… I’m down to 44 in one inbox and 295 in the other… Eventually I’ll get there.

  2. Robin S says:

    In Hotmail, you have the option to “delete all from this sender,” which I use regularly. I’ve been waiting for the other sites through which I have email accounts to do the same (Yahoo and Gmail), but you have helped with at least my Gmail. :)

    • The thing I’ve figured out with yahoo is to hover next to the sender (on its right) and a magnifying glass will appear. Click on that and it will pull all that are like it and you can delete them. You can do the same with the subject line.

      • Robin S says:

        Thank you! I just got my Yahoo inbox down from 9999+ to under 3000. (There are a lot of senders. LOL)

  3. I thought the sixty-five hundred emails I deleted from my Gmail account last July was bad, lol. I’ve also been sweating the fact that it’s pushing a thousand again. Seventeen thousand though…wow! I did have over 10k in a Yahoo account once. Fortunately, it wasn’t one I used much so I deleted everything and just started over. Wish I could do that with this one.

    My biggest tip for keeping email accounts under control…when I don’t let them get out of control again? Deal with them as soon as I log in. Like you, I’ve unsubscribed from all the sites I ‘meant’ to visit, and sites I do enjoy but just don’t have time for, so I don’t get much I don’t want these days. It wouldn’t be that hard, but I get busy one day, then I don’t want to look at it the next day, etc…, and before I know it, the unread emails are pushing quadruple digits again.

    So the ‘do it now’ principle applies…when I apply it. :)

  4. Holly Barlow says:

    Another tip for Hotmail accounts: I usually sort by “date” with the most recent first. When I want to delete a chunk of emails, I sort by “from”. Then I can see all the e-mails I’ve kept from that sender at once, and I can choose to delete the ones I don’t want to keep. One thing that has kept me “sweeping out my inbox” has been the fear that I’ll throw out that ONE important email. Now I can see if there are any important ones from that sender and delete the rest. Whew! What a relief!

  5. Mandy M says:

    Robin – thank you for the note on Hotmail! I just deleted over 8,000 emails in under 10 minutes! Now only another 24,000 to go…!!!

    • Mandy M says:

      I do have to say though that I have had this email address for over 15 years, so there are many that are way, way old! That will just take time!

  6. Actually there is a more permenant solution, although a bit time consuming but I had to do this because my yahoo which I have had since 97 has more junk mail than a landfill. In a day I could get 200-300 various emails. When I had nearly 2000 in my box I sat down one evening got to work.
    Step 1: sort email by sender
    Step 2:go to the first email and open it, scroll to the bottom and it will say if you subscribed for this or not, if so click “unsubscribe”. This usually takes you to another screen to confirm this, might even ask you to enter your email go ahead its not going to spam you.
    Step 3: when the unsubscribe is confirmed select all the other emails from that sender and delete them. You will not see another email from them.
    Step 4: Repeat with the next email sender.

    Now, if you never subscribed and you got a large chunk of email from the sender then mark as spam. This will automatically move new emails into your spam folder. I know can use my yahoo without having to wade through hundreds of emails that I have no idea how I even signed up for.

  7. lydia purple says:

    ibmostly practise a one touch policy with email, just like with paper mail. i open my account daily. first i delete any junk. than i open the few advertising mails that i’m interested to check if it’s something i really want/need… 99.9% of the time it’s not so i delete those right away too. than i open the reminder emails from our church for events or prayer requests. if i may need the info like instructions for a church picnic or whatever i’ll leave it my inbox. if it’s a prayer request i either pray right away and delete or take a mental note… than delete the email. than i open the actual email conversations. anything easy i answer right away and depending on the importance i archive or delete the email. i onle ever have about 20 emails left in my inbox and they are all emails that require a longer answer or some research or follow up. anything that is done is mostly deleted, i only archive e- bills or important personal conversations. when i started doing this it really kept my account clear and if i need to find some old information i actually can find it quickly, because it’s archived in it’s proper place.

    of course if you ae backed up with old stuff, you will need tools to delete tons of emails at once. try to unsubribe from anything you don’t really care about. or set up a junk email account that you use for online sign ups.

  8. unmowngrass says:

    My trick is Email Amnesty. I have a folder labelled Email Amnesty in my email. This folder is exactly like the delete button most of the time. Every so often (I need to get into the habit of doing it weekly!) I select ALL of the emails and move them to this folder. This folder is where email goes to die. 98%+ of email that goes into this folder never comes out again. But, for the <2% that I do need again, I can search for them and they're still there. If email comes out of that folder, via a search or a continued conversation, then I file it properly, and everybody wins.

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--Nony

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