Message and Attachment Size Limits in Gmail

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Gmail limits the size of emails and file attachments you can send and receive.

Gmail Email Is Not For Big Data?

Have you been expecting scientific data a few hundred megabytes in size, to be delivered to you via email to a Gmail address? Do you want to mail the results, still a hefty 65 MB, back?

Has your aunt asked whether you received the PDF document she sent of the instruction manual for the chainsaw she lent you (laden with hundreds of pictures of, alas, thousands of parts…)?

Are you supposed to have looked through grandpa's vacation photos (all attached to one giant email, of course)?

In many of these cases, you (as well as your colleagues and family) may be out of luck with Gmail—but not entirely. Gmail does have limits to the size of email it processes; if you need to send or receive more data, you do have options, however.

Message and Attachment Size Limits in Gmail

Gmail processes

  • messages up to 25 MB

in size. This limit is applied to the

  • sum of the message's text and the encoded attachment.

Typically, encoding makes the size of the file grow slightly.

Messages exceeding the limit sent to your Gmail account will bounce back to the sender. Messages larger than 25 MB that you try to send from Gmail will yield an error.

Sending and Receiving Larger Files with Gmail

The easiest way to work around Gmail's message size limit is built right into Gmail. You can

  • send files using Google Drive:
    1. Click Insert files using Drive while composing a message.
    2. Go to the Upload tab.
    3. Drag the desired file or files to the Drag files here area and drop them.
    4. Highlight all the files you want to share.
    5. Click Insert.

    Of course (and a bit less conveniently), you can also rely on web space more generally:

    • Put the file you want to send on a web server.
      • You can password-protect the file to prevent public access.
    • Mail a link to the file from Gmail:
      1. Copy the file's link from your browser's address or the sharing link from the web service.
      2. Click the Insert link button while composing a message in Gmail.
      3. Make sure Web address is selected under Link to:.
      4. Paste the address under To what URL should this link go?.
      5. Optionally, change the text that will appear for the link under Text to display:.
      6. Click OK.

      The additional benefit you get for this slight inconvenience is that you avoid irritating or annoying people with huge attachments. Sure, downloading the file from the web server will take just as long, but the recipient can decide when to do and when to stop it with the pleasing feeling of being in control.

      As an alternative, you can split the file in smaller chunks (which I do not recommend) or try a file sending service.

      (Updated April 2016)

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