Managing Gmail’s Storage Limit: How to Filter and Delete Old Emails

Gmail, Google’s email service, provides a generous 15GB of storage per account, encompassing email messages, files stored on Google Drive, and even photos in Google Photos. While 15GB may seem like a substantial amount of storage, the reality is that as email attachments grow in size, this space can fill up faster than expected. If you find yourself using Gmail frequently, you may encounter the common issue of accumulating emails over time, often opting to archive rather than delete them.

If you’re concerned about your Gmail storage space, especially if you’re approaching the 15GB limit, it’s essential to clean up your inbox, starting with the oldest emails. In this article, we will show you how to efficiently filter and delete these aging emails.


Why Filter and Delete Emails

When you create a Google account, you are allocated 15GB of storage, shared across all Google services. Once this storage is filled, Google allows you to continue receiving emails until your storage reaches 120% capacity. However, you will receive alerts prompting you to clear space by deleting emails or files, as exceeding this limit could disrupt your email reception. When your inbox is completely full, all incoming emails will be rejected.

In such scenarios, you have two options: either filter and permanently delete certain emails to free up space or purchase a monthly or annual subscription to Google One to expand your storage capacity. Google One offers plans starting at 100GB, 200GB, and even 2TB of storage. These plans are typically suitable for home users and professionals, with prices varying accordingly.

Google One Annual Plans:

  • 100GB: €19.99 annually.
  • 200GB: €29.99 annually.
  • 2TB: €99.99 annually.

Plans starting from 2TB and above are generally designed for professional users or individuals who engage in extensive photography or video activities, necessitating large-scale cloud storage. However, even with increased storage, prudent management of your emails remains important, as space is finite.

Filtering Emails by Age

While several third-party tools and applications exist to assist in email organization, Gmail itself provides powerful native search capabilities. You can perform advanced searches using specific commands to identify emails you wish to manage and delete.

The “older_than” rule allows you to locate emails older than a specified period. For example, to display emails that are more than six months old, you would use the following command:


For filtering emails by years, you can employ a similar command with “1y” representing one year in English. The following command, for instance, will retrieve emails older than a year:


If you want to further filter emails by attachment size, you can utilize the “larger” command. You can use it independently to filter the entire inbox or combine it with the “older_than” command to refine your search. For example, to filter emails older than two years and larger than 10MB in size, use this command:

older_than:2y larger:10M

The “larger” command is particularly useful for filtering emails by size, such as those exceeding 10MB.

Filtering by Attachment Size

To specifically filter the largest emails, those larger than 50MB, use the “larger:50M” command. This will display all emails meeting this size criterion in the search results.

Once you have filtered the emails you wish to delete, select all the messages that match your search criteria. You can do this by checking the “select all” box and choosing the option to mark all matching emails. Subsequently, you can swiftly select all the relevant emails.

Finally, click the “trash” button to move these emails to the trash. Gmail retains them in the trash for 30 days before permanent deletion. If you want to delete them immediately, access the trash folder and empty it. Be aware that the deletion process may take some time if you have hundreds of emails, so consider this before checking your available inbox space.

Filtering by Date: Before or After

Gmail not only enables you to filter emails by age but also to specify a particular date from which to filter emails. You can retrieve emails received before a specific date using the following command:

before: yyyy/MM/dd

For instance, to view all emails received before April 10, 2016, you would use the command:

before: 2016/04/10

To filter emails received after a certain date, use the “after” command:

after: yyyy/MM/dd

By combining these commands, you can filter emails by precise date and size, providing a detailed approach to managing your inbox effectively.

Downloading All Emails to Your PC

If you configure your Gmail account in email management programs like Outlook or Thunderbird, you can export all emails easily. However, Google offers a native solution that doesn’t require third-party programs. To download all your emails, including attachments, visit the Google Takeout website and log in with your Google account. Here, you can download all your personal data, including Gmail content.

By default, all services are selected for download. To focus solely on downloading emails, click “Uncheck all” to deselect all products.

Navigate to the “Mail” section and select it. Google Takeout will inform you that data will be downloaded in various formats, including Mbox for emails and JSON for configurations.

If you click on “Various formats,” you can view the supported formats.

By default, Google Takeout will download all emails since the “Include all email messages” box is checked. This means all emails will be downloaded in Mbox format.

Once downloaded, you can view Mbox files using email programs like Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird. Alternatively, you can use Windows Mbox Viewer to view emails selectively without importing them all locally. If you have a NAS server like QNAP, you can use applications such as QMailAgent to download emails from various providers, freeing up space in your Gmail inbox.


Gmail offers powerful native search capabilities, allowing you to filter and manage emails efficiently. You can use commands to filter emails by age, size, and date, making it easy to delete, archive, or categorize emails. As Gmail provides 15GB of free storage, proper email management becomes crucial. Should you need additional storage, Google One offers subscription plans. You can also download your emails to your PC or NAS server for long-term storage, keeping your Gmail inbox organized and within storage limits.