Email life hack: How to delete emails efficiently

When emails start to pile up, it can be hard to keep track of your digital life. But who has time to sort through old messages one by one to see what’s important and what’s not? Luckily has a few simple tricks and tools you can use to find and delete emails in bulk and keep junk from accumulating going forward.
Woman at desk looking at computer with dog next to her
Time for a new trick: Deleting all your old emails quickly for a clean inbox

Of course we all know that a clean inbox helps keep us from losing track of important messages and find what we are looking for quickly. And even though gives you 65 GB of email storage (room for around 500,000 emails!) if you have not deleted messages from your email account for many years, you may need to free up storage space so you don’t have problems sending and receiving messages with that email address. Keep reading to learn how you can get the job done quickly and efficiently!
  1. How to delete an email
  2. How to delete all emails at once
  3. How to mass delete emails using your folder settings
  4. Use email search filters to delete emails in bulk
  5. Emails that you shouldn’t delete
  6. Batch delete emails on your iPhone
  7. Delete all emails at once on your Android smartphone

How to delete an email: The basics

To delete an email in your inbox, simply click the box to the left of the sender's name. Now click the Delete button in the navigation bar (or the trash symbol) to send that message to your Trash folder. To delete several emails at once, select them by clicking each box and then Delete. If you mistakenly delete an email, don’t worry – it will remain in your Trash folder for 90 days (default setting). Once emails have been deleted from the Trash folder, however, they can no longer be recovered.

How to delete all emails at once

Obviously, if you have a lot of emails to delete you don’t want to waste time clicking on each one. If you want to delete emails in bulk from your inbox (or another folder), you can click the checkbox next to the Delete button to select all mails, then click Delete. Alternatively, you can use the dropdown menu to select all your read or unread messages for deletion.
Screenshot of select email function in inbox
Mark multiple emails for quick deletion

How to mass delete emails using your folder settings

If you like to organize your email inbox using folders, you can automatically keep clutter from accumulating by defining storage times for each folder. By default, the inbox folders you create have unlimited storage time. But if you have a folder for newsletters from your favorite retailers, for example, you may want to set a storage time of 30 days since the special offers in the newsletters will expire by then anyway. Once you have done so, individual emails in that folder will be automatically moved to Trash after 30 days. You can customize each of your folders with a different storage time. Here's how it works:
  1. Hover the mouse over the folder name and a wrench symbol will appear.
  2. Click the icon and set the desired storage time in the dropdown menu.
  3. Alternatively, you can delete all the emails in a specific folder immediately by clicking on Empty folder.
Screenshot of email folder settings
Use the folder settings to schedule email deletion – or empty the folder all at once

If you’d like to check the storage time of all the folders in your inbox, go to E-mail > Settings > Folder Overview.

Use email search filters to delete emails in bulk

Another way to mass delete emails without resorting to the nuclear option of deleting all messages: Use the search emails function. If there are emails from a specific sender you no longer need to keep – like events from a club you no longer belong to – you don’t need to scroll and select each message manually. Here's how it works:
  1. Go to the E-mail tab in the web version of your account
  2. Locate the search bar located under the Compose E-mail button
  3. Enter your search term, for example a sender name
  4. A list of all messages in all folders in your account that contain that search term (e.g. all e-mails from a specific sender) will appear
  5. If desired, you can now use further filter options such as: date or folder
  6. Once you have adjusted your filters to your satisfaction, select all the messages by clicking the checkbox next to the Delete button
  7. Press Delete to send all selected messages to your Trash folder
Screenshot of email search function
Use the search function to delete all mails from a specific sender
Pro tip: Emails that you shouldn’t delete

If a spam message arrives in your inbox when you check email, this is not the time to press delete! Instead, select the message as described above and click Spam in the top menu bar. This will not only move the email to your Spam folder, but will also ensure that any future emails from the same sender will automatically be identified as junk mail.

Mass deleting emails on a smartphone

If you use your smartphone to check your emails, unfortunately your options for mass deleting emails are more limited. It is still easy to select and delete all the emails in your inbox or in a specific folder, but there are not as many options for filtering the messages before deleting them in bulk. You can try out the steps below to delete all your old mails on your smartphone.

Delete messages in the app for iOS

To delete a single message in our Mail App, simply place your finger on the message and swipe left until a red field with a trash icon appears, then keep swiping left until the message is removed. Don’t worry, if you mistakenly delete a message - you can still find it in your Trash folder. It will remain there for 90 days (unless you have changed the default folder settings).
If you would like to delete all the emails in your inbox or a specific folder and don’t want to swipe every single one individually, you can simply select them all as follows:
  1. Tap the folder where you’d like to delete the messages
  2. Tap the check-mark icon that appears next to the compose-email icon in the upper right corner.
  3. Tap Select all in the upper left corner
  4. Alternatively, you can mark multiple emails for deletion by tapping the circle next to each message you’d like to delete
  5. Tap the red trash icon at the bottom of the screen
  6. Your selected emails will be moved to the Trash folder 
You also have the option of deleting entire folders and their contents:
  1. Tap the folder-settings icon that appears next to the compose-email icon in the upper right corner of the Mail tab
  2. A red delete symbol will appear next to all your custom folders
  3. Tap the delete symbol and a red delete bar will appear to the right of the folder
  4. Tap the delete bar to delete the folder and its contents
  5. Please note that system folders such as Trash and Spam cannot be deleted

Delete messages in the app for Android

To delete a single email message in the mobile app for Android, follow the usual principle of placing your finger on the message and swiping left. If you delete the wrong message or change your mind, don’t worry – you can find deleted messages in your Trash folder.
To delete all the messages in your inbox or an email folder at once:
  1. Place your finger on a message in the folder and hold it there until the message is selected (a blue checkmark appears) and menu options appear at the top of the screen
  2. Tap the three dots in the top right corner
  3. Tap “Select all”
  4. All messages in the folder are now marked blue
  5. Tap the trash symbol at the top of the screen
  6. Confirm deletion
 It is also possible to delete all the contents of a folder using the folder settings:
  1. In the app’s E-Mail tab, tap the menu symbol in the upper left corner
  2. Tap the folder settings symbol
  3. Click the three-dot menu symbol to the right of the folder name
  4. Tap “Remove folder” to delete the entire folder and its contents (only applies to custom folders, not system folders like the Trash folder)
  5. Confirm deletion by tapping “OK”
  6. Alternatively, tap “Delete mails after…” to adjust the length of time emails should be kept in the folder before automatic deleting
 It’s that easy – now you can delete messages in your account with maximum efficiency, no matter what device you use! We hope you found this email life hack helpful. Before you start deleting emails, why not leave us some feedback below?
This article first appeared on January 20, 2022 and was updated on February 23, 2023

Images: 1&1/Yaroslav Shuraev

827 people found this article helpful.

Related articles

Email life hack: Save and edit mails using email drafts

Email organization: Two effective strategies for organizing your inbox

Practical keyboard shortcuts for your inbox