How to Delete All Your Unread Emails in Gmail

March 30, 2023
Table of Contents
Table of Contents

Have you concluded that deleting all your unread emails is the only way to clean up your inbox? And after trying it out, have you realized that selecting and deleting emails in batches of 50 is just not going to cut it? It’s time you learn how to mass delete emails in Gmail.

Mass deleting emails is not for the faint-hearted. Just imagine, hundreds and thousands of emails just gone with a click. But fear not! In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to tackle the Gmail search feature, and then you’ll be well on your way to finding and deleting every last unread email hidden in your Gmail.

Deleting your unread emails in Gmail is simple

In the steps below, we will walk you through how to mass delete emails in Gmail. However, please remember that you can only perform a mass delete function on Gmail for the web and not the phone app. Here are the steps:

Step 1: Go to your Gmail inbox

Open your web browser and navigate to Gmail. This will bring you to your inbox, where you should be able to see all your unread emails.

Step 2: Select ‘All mail’ in the side panel

In the left side panel menu under the inbox, find and click ‘All mail’. You may have to click on the drop-down button for the additional options to appear to find ‘All mail’. Clicking this button will pull out emails not just from your inbox but your archives and labeled folders. Little boxes right before the subject lines of the emails will show you which location or folder the email has been pulled from.

Step 3: Select ‘is unread’ from the search options

Once you have all your emails showing up from your All emails folder, it’s time to select only the ones that have not been read. Do this by clicking the ‘Is Unread’ tab on the advanced search options field. Clicking this will show you your unread emails from all your folders, not just the inbox.

Step 4: Select the Unread emails

Now go to the select button on the top of the messages and click it to select all announcements on the page. Once you do this, there should be a confirmation of the action on the top of the messages saying, ‘All 50 conversations on this page are selected’. The number might be different if you have opted for a different number of emails to appear on a page in your settings.

The next thing to do is ‘select all conversations that match this search’ button to expand the selection to include all unread emails in your All mail folder. You will receive a confirmation of the function being carried out with ‘All conversations in this search are selected’ appearing on top of the messages.

Step 5: Delete the selected emails

Now, the step you’ve been waiting for. Click the trash can button to delete all the selected emails. On clicking this button, you will see a pop-up appear, which you must confirm for the bulk deleting to be successfully carried out. So, click ‘OK’, and you’re done. Your Gmail now does not hold any unread emails anywhere!

Deleting your unread emails in Gmail using search operators

If you thought that deleting unread emails in that manner was easy, wait till you learn about Gmail search operators. Deleting emails using search operators may seem slightly more complicated initially, but that’s only because it requires remembering the specific search operator terms.

The truth is once you have mastered how to use search operators, you will never want to click unnecessary buttons again. So, here goes.

Search operators are essentially modifiable terms that you can feed into the search field in Gmail to carry out very specific functions. If you want to search for all your unread emails without leaving your inbox page, type is:unread in the Gmail search field like this:

Click enter, and all your unread emails from all your folders will appear on the page. From here on, you can just carry out steps 4 and 5 to delete all your unread emails.

The main benefit of using search operators is that they can be modified and made conditional. This means that instead of deleting all unread emails if one day you decide to delete only the emails in one particular folder or category or even before a particular date, you can do that with ease. Here are some useful search operators for deleting unread emails.

For deleting unread emails under a label : label:{label name}is:unread

For deleting unread emails from a category : category:{category name}is:unread

For deleting unread emails older than a month: is:unread Older_Than:1m

For deleting unread emails older than a month : is:unread Older_Than:1y

Things to be careful about when deleting all your unread emails

Now that you know how easy it is to perform a mass delete of unread emails, you can have a clean inbox with just a few clicks. However, it is also important to take care of a few things before you go and delete all your emails.

Make sure they aren’t important

You must sift out any important emails before doing a mass delete. Just to be clear, when you delete emails in bulk, they still go into your trash bin and stay there for 30 days before Gmail deletes them permanently.

However, deleting something important will add an extra layer of inconvenience when you later need it, don’t find it, and then have to go to the trash can to restore it. Also, what if you don’t need it within 30 days, and it’s deleted permanently?

This is why you should consider the next option.

Consider archiving messages you could need later

When you have just two options: read or unread for dealing with incoming emails, often, unread emails can pile up. This happens because you may not have enough time to open and read an email, so you don’t even open it.

To deal with such situations, consider archiving emails you neither want to open right away nor delete from your Gmail. This will mean that the email will not clutter your inbox folder but will still be in your All mail (Archive) folder, should you need it later.

You still have to purge your trash for storage

If you deleted all your unread emails to gain some storage space, you may be disappointed to see that doing it changed nothing. That is because, as mentioned earlier in this post, when you delete emails, they go to the trash, where Gmail retains them for 30 days before deleting them permanently.

So, if you want to get some Gmail storage space freed up, you will have to go ahead and take the extra step of purging your trash or bin. This is easily done too. You can check out how to empty your trash in Gmail to learn just how to do that.

Deleting all unread emails is easy, but be careful

So, now that you know how to mass delete unread emails in Gmail, you can start with a clean inbox in seconds. Deleting all emails is easily done by searching for unread emails in the All Mail folder in Gmail or using search operators.However, deleting all unread emails is not the only option for decluttering your inbox and should be done with care. To learn more about other options that can help you keep a clean inbox like archiving, labeling, and creating filters, head on to the YAMM blog!

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