In general, I consider myself a pretty organized person. Maybe I’m not a “clean” person (because keeping up with housework is another animal), but an organized person. The one area where I tend to really lose it, though, is my email inbox. Because I work online, shop deals, and homeschool, I get a lot…and I mean a lot of emails each day. Keeping up with it is, at times, impossible. However, over the years, I have learned how to mass delete emails on Gmail and better ways to tidy up my email inbox, and I want to share them with you.
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This works for several different email providers (namely Gmail and Yahoo, but you should be able to use it for others as well). I mainly use Gmail and Yahoo, but I do have an AOL account too (and some others I forgot about and can no longer access).
Yes, I have a lot of email accounts…and a lot of daily emails in each account. I do not always have the time (or thought) to delete unwanted emails right away, and many I actually do need to save for reference.
So how do I control it all?!
How I Tidy Up My Email Inbox | Plus How to Mass Delete Emails on Gmail
Okay, I’ll start off by making a confession. Right now I currently have over 28,000 emails in my main email account. Can you believe that I only had around 20,000 about a week-and-a-half ago? Yes, it grows that fast! How?!
Because I’m trying to “Konmari” various areas of my life, I have decide to not only implement how to mass delete emails on Gmail, but also how to just clean it up in general so I don’t even get that exorbitant an amount of emails to start with, and I can keep those I need to reference in the proper places for easy access.
Let’s get our digital life organized at work and at home.
First and foremost, get off some of those email lists. Usually I just go through and delete emails and leave it at that, but…more keep on rolling in. Some companies email me several times a day.
I just. can’t. anymore.
As I sat recently and pondered how to tackle this issue once and for all, I realize that a lot of those emails I either didn’t sign up for, didn’t want or need, or didn’t even support.
So why was I still subscribed?
Doesn’t bring you joy? Only frustration or indifference? Unsubscribe!
But don’t unsubscribe from Arts & Crackers emails, of course…because our emails are helpful and awesomely spectacular and we don’t bombard you.
Update Email Subscription Settings
If you have certain emails you do enjoy receiving from companies, but they just send way too many, look at your account with them online. Many will give you options to pick and choose what types of emails you receive, and some will even let you choose how frequently. Cut your amount of emails received back a bit, and make sure you are only getting the kind you want.
Mark Important Emails
When you receive an important email you’ll need to save for reference or an email that is time-sensitive, mark it as “important.” Some email platforms will let you actually label it as “important,” others will let you “star” it, and others will give you both options (which is even better, because you can easily identify important-time-sensitive versus important-save-for-records).
I “star” any email that I need to look at within a certain time period and any that I need for my records (sweet emails from readers, information for taxes, recipes I want to reference…and so on). This way I can easily access all of the important mail that I need.
Another benefit of marking important emails with a star or “important” tag is that it will usually (in my experience) show up with that star in your inbox, so when you are going through and deleting emails, it will be easy to spot those that you need to keep or look over again before deleting.
Another way to visually-categorize your emails is by marking as “read” or “not read.” If you’ve already opened an email, but know you need to read it again later, you may opt to mark as unread so you are more apt to click open the email back up later. Alternatively, you may choose to mark other items as read. This may come in handy when I share how to mass delete emails on Gmail and other platforms.
Organize Your Inbox
Something that I have seen in most email systems now is the option to organize your emails into folders or add labels (which essentially organize them into folders). These folders or labels will allow you to find specific, related items grouped together without having to sift through a ton of emails to find them.
Some of the labels I have for my main account are “Health,” “Homeschool,” “Program Downloads,” “Taxes 2019,” and “Work.” When I need to sit down and do my taxes as someone self-employed, it is far easier to go to one specific label or category and have all of those emails together, even beyond looking through emails I have starred. This also comes in handy when you download programs and need quick access to product keys or login information. Sometimes businesses will use keywords that don’t match up with anything you would usually search (for instance, LipSense is part of SeneGence; some emails will be under the keyword “LipSense” and some under “Senegence” and some under both…but I can find them all together in my “Lipsense” label).
Depending on the types of emails you receive, you may want to organize into categories such as these: Work, Personal, Health, School, Friends, Recipes, Important Documents, Utilities, Downloads and Such, Magazines, Blogs, Catalogs and Sales, etc. You may even want to sub-categorize, if you have regular items for specific family members (such as “E’s Health” and “S’s School”).
Organization just makes life easier, so organize your inbox!
Side note: Gmail (and possibly others) like to auto-sort some of your mail into categories they’ve created, such as “Promotions” and “Updates.” This can make it difficult to find emails, or to see them right away, and has been a problem some of my subscribers have run into when trying to get my downloads that are emailed. I have my settings so that the full inbox shows when I log in, but I can optionally go check each of those categories if I want to.
Create Separate Email Accounts
One big way that I organize and separate emails beyond stars and labels and folders and categories is to have separate email accounts for separate things. Most people like to have one email account, maybe two, but I recommend using as many as you need. You may even want to try out some different providers to suit specific needs.
For me, having different email accounts is extremely helpful. Sure, I need to check more accounts and remember more passwords, but that’s a small price to pay for the sanity it brings when I receive hundreds, if not thousands, of emails a day between the accounts.
My main email accounts are through Gmail. Personally, I have found their platform to be the most user-friendly, easiest to access, and cleanest. It hooks easily with my phone, so I usually receive work emails almost as quickly as I would a text message. I do this so that, when possible, I can respond to reader and subscriber questions and concerns as quickly as possible.
I also have an email with Yahoo, which is more for personal items, and an email with AOL, which has become more of my “spam” email…you know, the one I use to sign up for things that I don’t need to keep up with regularly (birthday freebies, etc) and don’t want bombarding the email accounts with the important emails that I can’t miss. AOL has been a frustrating platform for me, so I very rarely use or check in on this, except to reference some of those emails that I specifically saved for reference.
Here are some of the specific email accounts that I have: Work/Health/School, Work-Only, Arts & Crackers-Specific (as part of my domain), Personal/Family, Spam/Random List Sign-up, Giveaway Entry. Of course, I also occasionally use my husband’s email address as well. We have also had emails associated with higher education that we use when we are currently enrolled, as well as job-related emails when working outside of the home. I’ve also created emails for my boys and we used to send them little notes to keep; unfortunately, I did not log in enough and open up those emails, I guess, so Yahoo deleted them (along with our heart-felt letters and “no way” of getting them back *cries*).
Mark Spam/Not Spam/Unsubscribe
A great way to organize your email and sort out future emails (and help your email provider sort them out too) is to mark items as spam or not spam. This one comes with a cautionary tale from me:
Please do not mark items as spam that are not spam just so you don’t see them in your inbox. This does far more harm than good, to you and to others. Several people over the years have marked my emails as spam after receiving their free printables. Future emails I have sent out have landed in people’s spam folders, and some servers will even block my emails entirely (especially if it includes the free download) because they’ve been previously marked as spam.
If you just don’t want to see emails from somewhere, unsubscribe. Don’t just mark it as spam. Spam will still fill up your inbox. Unsubscribing will save us all hassles.
However, if the item is truly spam (not a blog newsletter you signed up for, but something you absolutely no way signed up for, especially if it has the classic marks of being spam), then mark it as spam before you delete it. This will alert the email system to watch for other mail like this and keep it out of your inbox and others’ inboxes.
Likewise, if you find useful mail in your spam folder, or mail that isn’t actually spam (even if you plan to unsubscribe or delete), mark it as not spam. This is a courtesy for the sender, but also helps others who want to receive those emails and will help your email provider. This can also come back to help you at some point in the future, too, and it is as easy as touching a button.
Edit Email Settings
Email accounts often have settings that will help you control your mail a little bit better with automated features. For instance, in my spam folder, messages that have been around 30 days will automatically be deleted. That also means that I need to check my spam folder regularly, just in case something ended up in spam that shouldn’t be there (and is another reason not to just mark everything as spam and to mark actually-useful items as “not spam”).
Print, Save, or Archive
Some emails may not need to be kept digitally, so you may be able to save them by printing them or saving them to your desktop to clear up space in your email account. Some email accounts will also let you archive items. I personally like to keep all of mine available for easy reference, because sometimes I will need to reference, and even respond to, emails that are several years old. Others, like family recipes, I can save to my computer or print and add to my recipe box, then delete from my inbox.
When finding emails or sending emails, I use keywords. If I am sending myself a file from one computer to another so I can edit or upload it, I will add something like “Let’s Color Together” to the subject line so I can easily find those files in my email should I need to readily access them again. If I am sending an email to someone else, I try to do the same thing (for my sake and theirs). Use some keywords you, and whomever you are sending emails to, would likely search for. Sometimes you can search the specific email address, and that works, but this helps avoid even having to sift through all of those to find one email.
Mass Delete Gmail (and Others)
One of the biggest tasks for email management is getting rid of unwanted and unneeded emails to tidy up your inbox. You can unsubscribe, organize, and anything else you want, but you’re still going to have to tacked that behemoth lot of emails. If you’re like me, that task is daunting and overwhelming. Sometimes you want to hire it out.
This trick, however, will save so so much time and hassle. You’ll thank me later.
In previous efforts to tidy up my email inbox, I would go through one page at a time, looking at each email and selecting those I wanted to delete. It took me hours and hours, and I’d barely make a dent. I knew there had to be an easier way.
Well, there is.
When I’m first ready to start tackling deleting emails in my inbox, I think about some of the emails that were at one time time-sensitive and are no longer valid. These are emails like promotional emails you sign up for (i.e. I get coupons from Michael’s frequently). They can also be emails asking you to sign up for a certain limited-time program that is starting, or maybe package delivery notices that have already been dealt with.
Search for the specific email address or sender name associated with these (remember those keywords?). I like to start with ones I can see as soon as I open my inbox. You will want to be as specific as possible, but also somewhat generic (for those that sometimes add extra wording to the end of their sender name). I have some that will say a person’s specific name, but sometimes they say VP afterwards, or CEO, or something else. In these instances, I will just search as much of the name as it will appear in the most amount of emails.
Some of the emails that I get have slight differences in the names, so your search feature may not find them all immediately. Think of different ways to type these keywords so that it finds them all. For instance, I have one company that sends emails from a large variety of personal email addresses, and they type the subjects differently every time. I will search the name or email address of the sender, as well as whatever different keywords they use (SPN, S P N, etc) to find them all. If searching a specific link or email source, think of typing “.com” or even just a “.” after your keyword so you don’t just end up with a list of unrelated emails that simply mention that text (such as “google.” instead of “google”).
Once you’ve gotten a group of all the same (or mostly the same) emails, you can mass delete them. If you’ve been diligent about “starring” important ones, you’ll know which to keep (at least for now). In Gmail, there is a small box above all the other boxes. You can click this box to select everything down the list.
Before deleting, skim down the list quickly just to make sure you aren’t deleting anything important. Again, if you’ve been diligent about marking items as important, or even as “read” or “unread,” you may have yourself a shortcut. Either manually deselect important items or look for further selection options from your email provider.
Personally, I still like to take it one page at a time and skim down the list even after I’ve quick-selected everything not starred, just to make sure I do not delete anything important on accident. Sometimes, even when you type in a specific sender name or email address, you’ll end up with a handful of random emails mixed in, so it’s always best to play it safe.
Once you’ve selected the emails you don’t want, and only the emails you don’t want, delete! I do this one page at a time. Some of my email searches have several pages worth. Each page, for me, shows 50 emails. You can usually change how many show, and the amount you choose is totally up to you. Just make sure it’s manageable for you, and enough to actually save you time.
Now search the items that are newsletters and things you have unsubscribed to and no longer want in your inbox. Save any you want for reference, then quick-select and mass delete the rest. Now search for emails that just send you overwhelming amounts that you simply don’t need. Search for any that you often don’t bother to read; keep ones you still want for reference, and delete the rest.
Searching for specific names can really make mass-deleting quicker (and safer)!
Once you are through, take a little time scanning through those items marked with a star or “important” to make sure none of them are expired or out-dated. A lot that I mark are things that I need to remember to do quickly and don’t want to get hidden in all the emails, but they are only good for a week or two, so I can delete or re-categorize many of those after that time has passed. Gmail also has options to mark with different color stars or shapes if you keep clicking (and other email accounts may allow this as well); look in your settings to choose different options if you wish so you can find what you need even faster.
I find that having my email account open in two, even three browser tabs is beneficial when I am doing a deep purge, because sometimes other emails I’d forgotten about pop up with an otherwise unrelated keyword. I will then jump to another tab, search that keyword (you could also write it down and come back to it), and delete all of those emails while it is fresh on my mind, then continue what I was in the process of doing on the original tab.
Some emails will still need to be deleted manually one-by-one because of how few they are or not having any good keywords or keyword stings to search (like Google+ emails if you had a Google+ account link in your email signature), but mass deleting is extremely beneficial for the most part.
Bonus Tip I’ve Discovered Since Posting:
In Gmail (as it may be in other email accounts too), you have the option to view oldest emails first. This comes in handy when mass deleting emails, because it starts with things that are very outdated and you may not even receive emails for anymore (and probably had forgotten).
P.S. Don’t forget to empty the trash and delete permanently. You can empty your inbox to zero, but if you haven’t fully deleted the emails, it will still work against the space your email account allows you. I did not realize this until I received some warnings to buy or make new space!
Put It On Your Schedule
If you don’t want to become like me and you want to keep up with your email regularly so it doesn’t get over-crowded, put “email maintenance” on your schedule! Remember to delete unneeded emails daily when possible. Add email organization to your weekly or monthly planner to do quick clean-outs and make sure everything is marked that needs to be. Do a big clean and organization check quarterly. Re-evaluate subscription lists yearly.
- Update Email Subscription Settings
- Mark Important Emails
- Organize Your Inbox
- Create Separate Email Accounts
- Mark Spam/Not Spam/Unsubscribe
- Edit Email Settings
- Print, Save, or Archive
- Note Keywords
- Mass Delete Gmail (and Others)
- Put It On Your Schedule
How do you keep your email organized and tidy? Have any unique or platform-specific tips that weren’t mentioned here? Tell us in the comments below!