How to Clean Up Your Gmail Inbox (and keep it that way!)

The following is a conversation that I have with surprising frequency:

Me: “Wow, you have (a stunning number) of unread emails in your inbox.”
Other Person: “Yeah, I’m on all sorts of email lists.  I keep meaning to find a Saturday to clean it out.”

The good news is that you can clean out your GMail inbox without devoting a Saturday, or even a long afternoon, to the process!  Here’s how:

1.  Sign in to the GMail web interface at http://www.gmail.com (this works for district email accounts and personal gmail accounts)

2.  Find messages from email lists, advertisers, or spammers that you no longer want to receive messages from.

3.  Click the checkboxes to the left of these messages; you can choose as many messages as you like.

gmailcleanup_1

4.  After you’ve selected the messages, click the “More” button at the top of the screen, and choose “Filter messages like these”

gmailcleanup_2

5.  A window will appear that lists the senders for the messages you chose (blacked out in my example).  Verify that they are addresses you no longer wish to receive emails from.

6.  In that window, click “Create filter with this search”

gmailcleanup_3

7.  Another window will appear.  Click the “Delete it” checkbox and, if it appears, “Also apply filter to X matching conversations”

8.  Click Create filter

gmailcleanup_4

From now on, emails from the senders you just checked will be automatically deleted, and all of the existing emails from those senders will be removed from your mailbox.  Typically if you drill through the first 100 or so messages in your mailbox with this approach, you’ll dramatically reduce the size of your inbox while also cutting down significantly on unwanted email in the future.  Further, you can go through these steps once every couple of weeks to keep on top of future unwanted email, and you should notice that your inbox is much cleaner moving forward.

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