How to Find and Delete Old Gmail Emails

Cleaning up your inbox is a chore most of us do not enjoy. But if you do not stay on top of things, you can end up with a mess of outdated, unneeded emails.

RAYMOND OGLESBY @RaymondOglesby2
April 26, 2022

Cleaning up your Inbox is a chore most of us do not enjoy. But if you do not stay on top of things, you can end up with a mess of outdated, unneeded emails. Let’s explore how to remedy this situation in Gmail.

This is for devices using Gmail. Screenshots are from Windows 10

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Find Old Emails

Gmail offers a handy Search feature that lets you find emails from or to specific people, or with a particular word in the subject line. But to find emails older than a certain number of years, months, or days, all you need is the Search box.

First. at the top of Gmail, enter the following into the Search box to find emails older than one year. Refer to the below image:

Gmail 1
Gmail Search

Next, you can replace the 1 with a different number to find emails older than two, three, four, or more years.

In addition, you can use a different timeframe. To find emails older than a certain number of months or days, use these expressions:

older_than:1m
older_than:1d

Again, replace the 1 with the number of months (m) or days (d) and see your results.

Find Emails in Label Folders

If you use Gmail labels, you will see the folders for those labels in the left-hand navigation. So if you want to clean up one or two, you can use the above search expressions within those as well.

Now, select a label’s folder on the left. You will then see that expression pop into the Search field. See the below image:

Gmail 2
Search a Labeled folder

Next, select the inserted phrase, type a space, and then one of the older_than expressions above right after it. In the screenshot below, we search our Important label (folder) for emails older than one day. See the following image:

Gmail 3
Search a Labeled folder with a specified time range

Filter Further

The nice part about using the above search expressions, aside from seeing old emails quickly, is that you can filter your results further.

Now, after you search, you will see several buttons across the top. These let you filter your search results by things like Has Attachment, From, To, and Is Unread. Refer to the below image:

Gmail 4
Filter your Search

Next, select one of these filters to narrow down your search results. This is ideal if you want to find only those old emails with attachments, for example, but still, hang onto some others you might need.

Now, to remove a filter after you apply it, just click it again. To do a more in-depth search, click the Show search options icon at the top of your screen. See the below image:

Gmail 5
Selecting Search options

Next, the Search options will be displayed. Just enter your criteria for the search and, when finished, click the Search button. See the following image:

Gmail 6
Your search options

Delete the Emails

After you find those outdated emails, have filtered or reviewed them, and are ready to delete them.

Now, confirm that the emails you see are the ones you want to remove. If so, check the box on the left of the top toolbar. This selects all emails and you can see the total number selected at the bottom. Refer to the below image:

Gmail 7
Selecting to Delete all emails

Next, if you prefer to limit the selection, you can use the arrow next to the checkbox to pick an option like Read, Unread, Starred, or Unstarred. See the below image:

Gmail 8
Limit your deletion

Now, when you are ready, click the Trash can icon in the toolbar to delete the emails. Up to 50 emails will be deleted at a time. See the following image:

Note: You may need to expand More to see the Trash folder.

Gmail 9
Moving your emails to Trash

Next, you will not be asked to confirm this action! So if you mistakenly delete an email, head to the Trash folder in the left-hand sidebar. Select the email and then move it where you want such as your Inbox or a Label’s folder.

Keep in mind that emails in the Trash are automatically deleted for good after 30 days.

Related

How to Bulk Delete Emails in Gmail

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Author: Raymond

I am Raymond Oglesby, an Information Technology (IT) specialist with 30 years in the field. I have taught Microsoft Applications and troubleshot computers in 15 countries and many States. My career was focused on mainframes and desktops from application development to implementation. I have written hundreds of programs for various architectures. I decided to start a blog to share my knowledge and experiences with you. I plan on updating this blog at least twice a week about smart phone apps to Windows. Please feel free to leave a Comment or Tweet. I would love to hear from you. Do you have a computer tech question? I will do my best to answer your inquiry. Please mention the app and version that you are using. To help me out, you can send screenshots of your data related to your question.

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