How to Find and Delete Old Emails in Gmail

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Inbox cleanup is a chore most don’t enjoy. But if you don’t stay on top of things, you can end up with a mess of outdated, unneeded emails. We’ll show you how to quickly find and delete old emails in Gmail.

Find Old Emails in Gmail

Gmail does offer a handy Search feature that lets you find emails from or to someone specific 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.

RELATED: How to Search Gmail by Date

At the top of Gmail, enter the following into the search box to find emails older than one year:

older_than:1y

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

Search for emails older than one year

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
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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’ll 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.

Select a label’s folder on the left. You’ll then see that expression pop into the Search field.

Search a Newsletters label in Gmail

After 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 Newsletters label (folder) for emails older than six months.

Search a Newsletters label older than six months

You then have a list of old emails that exist inside that label’s folder.

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.

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After you search, you’ll see several buttons across the top. These let you filter your search results by things like Has Attachment, From, To, and Is Unread.

Filter buttons for search in Gmail

Note: The filter options vary depending on your search results.

Simply 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.

To remove a filter after you apply it, just click it again. To do a more in-depth search, click “Advanced Search” to the right of the buttons.

Filter buttons and Advanced Search

Delete the Found Emails

After you find those outdated emails, have filtered or reviewed them, and are ready to delete them, it’s an easy task.

RELATED: Why You Should Delete Emails Instead of Archiving Them

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.

All emails selected in Gmail

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.

Selection filters

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When you’re ready, click the trash can icon in the toolbar to delete the emails.

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.

Trash folder in the sidebar

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

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

If you’re ready to do some inbox or folder cleanup in Gmail, consider getting rid of those old and unneeded emails. After that, think about removing the junk emails that are piling up!