How do I free up storage space in Gmail? (2023)

If 15 GB is not enough for you.

vonLeo A. Notenboom

How do I free up storage space in Gmail? (1)

There are several ways to deal with an overflowing Google Drive.

How can I export my entire Gmail inbox to Dropbox? I've encountered the new 15GB storage limit and want to move it to my Dropbox account.

Fifteen gigabytes is a lot of storage space (and the limit is nothing new, by the way) – but sometimes we have a lot of email.

However, Google is about more than email.

What about Dropbox? Well, it might be part of the solution, but then again. . . may have an even stricter limit.

How do I free up storage space in Gmail? (2)

Free up space in Gmail

Both Google Drive and Google Photos count against your Gmail storage quota. Cleaning can be a good place to start. Of course, you can buy more storage, but it's also worth checking how much of your email you really need to keep. The most comprehensive solution is to run an email program on your desktop and move the email to your PC to free up storage space online, with the added benefit of backing up your email.

(Video) Gmail Tips: How to Clear Gmail Space for More Google Drive Storage

It's more than an email

The important thing is to recognize thatThe 15GB of storage you get in a free Gmail account applies to your entire Google account. Specifically, they all share the same 15GB of storage space:

  • Gmail
  • Google Drive
  • Google Photos

The first thing I would do is check if it really is your email that is taking up all the space, or if some or most of the space is being used by Drive and Photos.,1and you will see something like this:

I paid for two terabytes of storage, but you can see my email is using a little over two gigabytes. It's my use of Google Drive that takes up the most space on my account.

Depending on your situation, you may find that Google Drive or maybe Google Photos could be to blame for hitting your 15GB storage limit.


I use more than one cloud storage provider and pay for both Dropbox and Google Drive. I did a quick price overview a few years ago. CashFive reasons I went all in with Dropboxfor a price list at that time.

Solution #1: Get More Disk Space

I'm sure Google's preferred solution is for you to pay for more storage.

And I will say that it is simple and very economical. The reason I'm paying for my two terabytes as shown above is because when I researched it a few years ago, it was the most cost-effective alternative that met my needs.

I know it's not for everyone, but it's worth considering for its simplicity and reasonable price.

Solution #2: Check these other services

As I indicated above, Google Drive and Google Photos count towards your 15GB limit. This comes as a surprise to many people.

(Video) How To Free Up Space in Gmail & Google Drive- Quickest method 2021

Because the photos and other things we can store in Google Drive are often large, re-evaluating what you store on those services may be the quickest approach to freeing up space for Gmail.

For example, moving your photos from Google Photos to Dropbox can be a quick fix if you find yourself in this situation.

If you use Google Drive, moving some or all of your saved data to another solution (like Dropbox) can also be a relatively quick fix.

Unfortunately I can't provide any further guidance on this approach as we all use Google Drive and Google Photos differently and reconsidering your approach depends on how you use them.

Solution #3: Delete Email

I assume you've already thought of this, but I have to mention it for those who haven't already.

Do you really need to save all those emails?All 15 gigabytes of it? Really?

This could be an opportunity for you to spend a little time cleaning up your savings. Delete messages that you no longer need.

One compromise that can be effective is to download attachments — often some of the biggest contributors to disk space usage — and store them elsewhere. This can be a great use for something like Dropbox. After the attachment has been downloaded, you can delete the email (provided the value is in the attachment and the message itself is no longer needed).

It's more time consuming, but it can be useful.

Solution #4: Download Email

This solution - perhaps the most complete - is more complex than it seems.

First of all, any emails you remove to free up storage space will no longer be available in the Gmail web interface. They will store everything elsewhere.

(Video) How to Free Up Space in Gmail & Drive (Google One Storage)

Here is the procedure I recommend:

  • Install a desktop email program such asDonnervogel.
  • put it onAccess your Gmail via IMAP.
  • Create one or more local folders in Thunderbird. These are folders that are only stored on your computer.
  • Copy messages from Gmail folders to local folders based on any criteria.
  • Delete the messages you copied in Gmail.2

A set of criteria could be to move all emails older than a certain date to local folders, leaving only the most recent emails available online.

All emails remain accessible in Thunderbird; It's simply scattered between two or more folders: some represent your live Gmail account and others represent the email you've moved to your PC.

Learn how to move emails to Dropbox

In theory, you can configureThunderbird for storing your foldersno drop box.

In practice it is fragile.I've done it before and not anymore. There are two questions:

  1. When Thunderbird is running, some of the files will be locked and Dropbox will complain that they can't be synced. Aside from perhaps obfuscating other errors you want to respond to, this is harmless, if annoying.
  2. If you have two computers, each running Thunderbird and each accessing the same folders that are stored and synced by Dropbox, they can get confused. In the worst case, the email can be lost if you are not very, very careful. In theory, everything should be fine as long as you're religiously running only one copy of Thunderbird on one computer at a time. In practice, it's easy to forget that a copy is still running.

If you really want the email to be accessible from Dropbox, the only practical solution I know of is this: After Thunderbird copies the email to these local folders, locate and copy the files that represent these emails in a folder in your Dropbox. That seems too complicated for little value.

There's a third problem: a free Dropbox account only has two GB of storage space; So if you don't pay more, Dropbox might not perform.

you do this

The solution I generally recommend is the most complex above - Solution #4 - and here's why: You should be doing most of it already.

I know you're not, but you should be.

you should beSecure your email, and the first two steps – Run a desktop email program and configure it to access your account withIMAP- fulfills exactly that.

(Video) Gmail: How to Free Up Storage

So if you create local folders that are only stored on your PC, they will be copied from yoursRegular backups make PC.


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Footnotes and References

1: It's a.", since all storage services are marked as Google One.

2: I call this two separate steps and not "move" becauseGmail bookmarks and folderscan confuse the issue. It's safer to copy messages to Thunderbird first and then go back to Gmail interface to delete them.

(Video) How to fix your Google storage space forever... for free!


1. How Do I Free Up Space in Gmail?
(Ask Leo! - Tech confidence & solutions)
2. How to Clean up space in Gmail | Gmail Storage full | Cant send or receive emails in gmail
3. How to Free up Google One (Drive) Storage
4. 4 steps to free up Gmail space to get more Google storage (2022)
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5. How to free up space in Gmail and Google Drive - Google Storage Manager
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6. 2 Ways To Free Up Space In Your Gmail Account!
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