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 (thousands?) of messages waiting for you in an overburdened inbox? The solution is to get your inbox to zero messages and start dealing with incoming emails on a day-by-day basis so it doesn't fill up again. To do that, you need to archive all the current emails in your inbox. They will still be available through the All Mail tab in the left panel, but chances are good that you don't need many, if any, of them.

Gmail icon sending envelopes to a trash can
Lifewire / Jo Zixuan Zhou

A Fresh Start

Starting anything new is easiest, of course, from a beginning. In Gmail, you can start with an empty inbox at any time: It takes only a few steps to either archive or delete all the messages that currently occupy your inbox. You won't lose anything, but you should probably glance at the most recent archived emails over the next few days.

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 your cursor in the Gmail search field and type is:inbox.

  2. Press Enter.

    Gmail inbox search
  3. Place a check in the box at the top of the Select column to select all the emails. Because you searched for everything in your inbox, the selection will include any in of your inbox tabs, such as Primary and Social.

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

    Gmail archive all
  5. To delete all messages instead of archiving them, select the Delete button to move the emails to Trash, from which they will be permanently deleted eventually.

    Gmail delete all inbox

Alternatives to the Gmail Web App for Emptying Your Inbox

If you have set up Gmail in an email program using IMAP, chances are 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 them in bulk.

Keeping 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: you can 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 stale emails linger in your inbox. If you avoid email interruptions — say, 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.

For a relaxed and so much less stressful way of dealing with all your email, try dealing with today's mail — tomorrow.