How to Empty Your Gmail Inbox Quickly

Get a fresh start with an empty Gmail inbox

Do you dread opening Gmail because you have hundreds (or thousands) of messages waiting for you in an overburdened inbox? The solution is to get your inbox to zero messages and deal with incoming emails on a day-by-day basis, so it doesn't fill up again. To do that, archive all the current emails in your inbox. Those messages are available through the All Mail tab in the left panel, but the chances are good that you don't need many, if any, of the archived messages.

The instructions in this article are intended to be followed using the desktop version of Gmail that is accessed through a web browser.

Empty Your Gmail Inbox Quickly

To archive or delete all emails in your Gmail inbox at one time, open Gmail in a browser and then:

  1. Position the cursor in the Gmail search field, type is:inbox and then press Enter.

    Gmail with the search box highlighted
  2. Select the check box at the top of the Select column to select all the emails. After doing this, you might see a link called Select all conversations that match this search. This'll happen if you have tons of emails in the Inbox. Choose that link to select everything in the Inbox.

    When you search for everything in your inbox, the selection includes messages in the inbox tabs, such as Primary and Social.

    A Gmail inbox with the Select All button highlighted
  3. To archive all messages from the inbox, click the Archive button, which is located immediately to the right of the Select check box in the header. When messages are archived, the messages are still available through All Mail and search, but those messages are gone from your Gmail inbox.

    Gmail with the Archive button highlighted
  4. To delete all messages instead of archiving messages, select the Delete button to move the emails to Trash, from which messages are permanently deleted after 30 days

    Gmail with the Trash button highlighted

Alternatives to the Gmail Web App to Empty Your Inbox

If you have set up Gmail in an email program using IMAP, you can empty your inbox there quickly as well:

  1. Open the inbox folder.

  2. Select all messages by pressing Ctrl+A in Windows and Linux or Command+A on a Mac.

  3. Move the messages to an archive folder or delete messages in bulk.

Keep Your Gmail Inbox Clean Perpetually

Emptying your Gmail inbox is only useful if you manage it better going forward. Gmail offers tools to help you with that. Use inbox tabs, for example, to have incoming mail organized automatically, or focus solely on key messages in your Gmail inbox.

Avoid the trap that has old emails linger in your inbox. If you avoid email interruptions, for example, by Gmail new mail notifications, and schedule time dedicated to email, you spend less time on email and still keep your Gmail inbox cleaner than most.

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