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How to empty trash in Gmail

How to empty trash in Gmail
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Gmail gives you a lot of free storage, but it’s still ultimately limited. If you hit the upper limit (a limit that is shared with Google Photos and Drive, remember) then email messages sent to you will start to bounce, and that’s a huge problem.

You might think that deleting emails will help, and it will — eventually. The trouble is that email messages and threads deleted in Gmail sit in virtual purgatory for 30 days in case you change your mind. If you need that extra space right now, here’s how to empty the trash in Gmail.

1. Head to Gmail 

As with all Gmail tutorials, this starts by visiting Gmail.com. You then want to expand the panel on the left by pressing the text I’ve highlighted in the picture above that reads “More”. 

Step 1: How to empty trash in Gmail

(Image credit: Alan Martin)

2. Scroll down to Trash

This expansion adds a few more bits you can navigate to. That includes Trash, so scroll down to that and click it. 

Step 2: How to empty trash in Gmail

(Image credit: Alan Martin)

3. Review your deleted emails 

Huh, turns out I’ve been pretty conservative at deleting emails. Nonetheless, have a quick scan through and make sure there’s nothing in here that shouldn’t be. 

When you’re quite sure you want to get rid of all the email messages and threads in the trash folder, press the text at the top of the page that reads “Empty trash now.” 

Step 3: How to empty trash in Gmail

(Image credit: Alan Martin)

4. Confirm you're sure these emails should be deleted

As this is a step that can’t be undone, Gmail wants to make sure you know what you’re doing. If you’re completely certain about deleting these email messages and threads, go ahead and press “OK”. 

Step 4: How to empty trash in Gmail

(Image credit: Alan Martin)

5. Your Gmail trash is now empty 

If that’s gone as expected, you’ll get a small notification at the bottom of the screen saying “All messages have been deleted.” 

Now it’s up to you to decide if you need to delete more. You can get a quick assessment of how much space you have left by scrolling to the bottom of the page, where Gmail keeps a running tally as highlighted in the picture below.

How to empty trash in Gmail

(Image credit: Alan Martin)

More Gmail tips

  1. How to use Gmail — essential tips and tricks
  2. How to create a new Gmail account
  3. How to delete your Gmail account
  4. How to log out of Gmail
  5. How to change your name in Gmail
  6. How to block emails in Gmail
  7. How to recall email in Gmail
  8. How to mark all as read in Gmail
  9. How to delete all emails in Gmail
  10. How to create folders in Gmail
  11. How to empty trash in Gmail
  12. How to change your password in Gmail
  13. How to archive email in Gmail
  14. How to activate Gmail dark mode
  15. How to turn on Gmail's two-factor authentication on your desktop 
  16. How to set up Gmail two-factor authentication (2FA) on your phone
Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.