Easy Ways to Free Up Space in Gmail and Save Money

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Man checking his Gmail account on his phone and laptop
Alexey Boldin / Shutterstock.com

Google’s Gmail is famously generous with its storage space — these days it gives everyone 15GB, although that is shared between your messages in Gmail, your documents in Google Drive and your images in Google Photos.

But 15GB only goes so far, especially if you’ve used any of these services for a while. At some point, you might consider buying more storage with a Google One subscription, which starts at $2 per month.

If you hit the cap and don’t upgrade, according to Google, you won’t be able to send or receive email, upload new files or edit old ones, or back up any photos. Worse, if your account is inactive or over the limit for two years, Google can delete everything you store there.

The best way to avoid that scenario without paying for extra storage is to keep a good grip on your email. Fortunately, that’s not as daunting as it sounds. As Consumer Reports writer Nicholas De Leon recently discovered, it’s possible to delete tens of thousands of emails in a few simple steps. Two main tools will do the heavy lifting:

  1. Storage manager, which Consumer Reports likens to “a sledgehammer.” This tool will automatically identify the biggest space hogs and lowest hanging fruit in your account, from emails and files left in the trash to gigantic file attachments you’ve not needed for years.
  2. Gmail filters, which will find all emails that fit rules you set, such as emails from a specific address, time period, or including certain keywords.

Filters are more work but also more powerful. For instance, you could flag and delete every email you’ve ever gotten confirming an order on Amazon, or every shipping update from USPS, or every newsletter from your favorite movie theater, or sales emails from a website you bought something on one time but could never be bothered to unsubscribe from. Google provides some common filter ideas.

These two tools can help you delete useless emails en masse, rather than individually evaluating each message in your inbox or archived mail. (Archiving is not the same as deleting; it just moves messages out of your inbox, but they still take up space.)

Cleaning up your account can save you time and money in the long run. But it’s also practical for another reason we detail in “What Happens to Your Email and Social Media After You Die?

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