How to Empty Trash in Gmail (With Photos)

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How to Empty Trash in Gmail (With Photos)

Without proper management, your Gmail inbox can become a jungle of work messages, emails from friends, and the hundreds of email subscriptions you end up inadvertently signing up for as you trawl the world wide web. 

Stay on top of email and ensure unwanted emails are securely deleted by emptying your Gmail trash regularly. If you have a Gmail account but you don’t know how to do it, this article explains how to empty trash in Gmail with photos to help you on your way. 

Why Deleting Your Emails and Emptying Your Gmail Trash is Important

Gmail comes with up to 15GB of free storage, making it easy to let your inbox fill and fill. However, deleting your emails and emptying the trash is important to get the most out of your email correspondence. Here are six reasons to hit that trash can button in Gmail:

1. Keep Your Inbox Under Control

If you are not advanced at organizing your Gmail inbox, deleting unwanted or unnecessary emails keeps your inbox tidy while making the emails that you need to handle easier to see. Gmail does give you a helping hand by organizing your inbox with Promotions and Social tabs, but deleting the messages you have dealt with will keep your inbox down. 

2. Stay Productive

It’s so easy to get distracted online and an inbox full of special offers, funny emails, and long email threads will eat up your time and productivity. Keep focused by deleting anything and everything that is going to hinder you from getting your work done. 

3. Don’t Waste Storage Capacity

By deleting emails promptly you’ll keep your storage capacity under control. If you handle large files or have let your storage hit the limit over years, you may have to find yourself paying for more storage. Remember the 15GB of storage of your Google Workspace account has to be shared by Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Photos. 

4. Ensure Sensitive Emails Cannot Be Accessed

Communications that contain personal or sensitive information should be completely deleted from your email account when you’re done with them. The only way to ensure the prying eyes won’t ever see them is to empty the trash once you have deleted them. 

5. Dodge Spam

Spam that escapes the spam filter should be labeled and deleted immediately. Don’t let the spam folder fill up – delete these spammy emails completely!

6. Emails Are Subject to Discovery

In the event that your email account is subpoenaed by the authorities, anything left in your Trash folder is fair game. Completely delete your emails to ensure that no one can get their hands on your confidential emails.

7. Deleting Your Emails Could Save the Planet

It sounds like a bit of an urban myth, but deleting emails and emptying your Gmail trash could save significant amounts of energy that is used for data storage. If everyone deleted their old emails, this could add up to a tangible impact on energy consumption. 

How to Empty Trash in Gmail on Desktop

Overall, emptying the trash on Gmail on your desktop is quick and simple, you just need to know where to click! Follow these simple steps (with photos) to ensure that your Gmail trash is emptied when you want to:

Step One: Open Gmail on Your Desktop

Log into your Gmail account. If you have emails that you want to delete from your inbox, click on the box to the left-hand side of the emails you want to delete, then hit the trash can. 

Empty trash Gmail
Click the checkbox on the left side of an email message to delete it from your inbox.

Step Two: Click on the More Tab

Any emails deleted from your inbox will be stored in the Trash folder. To get to the Trash folder, navigate to the left-hand sidebar, then click on the More tab. This causes the entire menu to open up, including Spam and Trash folders. 

Empty trash Gmail
The More tab is located in the menu on the left-hand side of your screen.

Step Three: Scroll Down to the Trash Folder

With your menu opened up, simply scroll down to the Trash folder which is near the bottom of the list. Then, click on the Trash folder to open it. 

Empty trash Gmail
The Trash icon is near the bottom of the menu on the left-hand side of the screen.

Step Four: Click on the Square Next to the Emails You Want to Delete

Sometimes you want to ensure that a specific email is completely deleted while leaving other messages in the trash folder. You can permanently delete an individual email by clicking on the square to highlight it.

Empty trash Gmail
Click on the checkbox on the left side of an individual email to highlight it.

Step Five: Click Delete Forever to Delete the Highlighted Email 

Click on Delete forever in the folder header to completely delete your selected email. You can continue to highlight and delete further emails if necessary. 

Delete trash Gmail
The Delete forever option is located in the tab on the top left of your screen.

Step Six: Highlight Emails and Click Empty Trash Now

Alternatively, you can click on the left-hand box at the top of the list of emails to highlight all of them. With all files highlighted, click on Empty Trash Now in the header to completely empty your trash. Google will automatically empty the trash folder every 30 days, but stay on top of your data by permanently deleting emails promptly. 

Empty trash Gmail
The option to “Empty Trash Now” is in blue text above the list of highlighted emails.

YouTuber Right Inbox demonstrates how to empty trash in Gmail to keep your inbox uncluttered so you can be more productive.

How to Empty Trash in Gmail on Your Smartphone

If you’re using Gmail as an app on your smartphone, emptying the trash is just as easy. In the Gmail app, the Trash folder may also be called Bin. By following a few simple steps, you can quickly empty the trash folder in the Gmail app:

Step One: Open Your Gmail App

The Gmail app is extremely intuitive and makes it easier to manage your email than a smartphone browser. 

Empty trash Gmail
The Gmail icon may be an envelope highlighted with a red “M” or a multi-colored “M” logo.

Step Two: Tap the Three Horizontal Lines in the Left-Hand Corner

To open up your email folders, tap on the menu in the upper left-hand corner of your smartphone screen. The menu is indicated by three horizontal bars. 

Empty trash Gmail
The menu is located in the top left-hand corner of your screen.

Step Three: Scroll Down to the Trash Folder 

In the Gmail app, the Trash folder may be called Trash or Bin. You’ll find it in the menu by scrolling down toward the bottom of the screen. 

Empty trash Gmail
Scroll down to the trash can icon, which will be named Trash or Bin.

Step Four: Click on Empty Trash (or Bin) Now

When you delete emails from your inbox, they will be located in this folder. Gmail automatically deletes these emails after 30 days. You can also instantly delete them by clicking Empty trash now or Empty bin now. Finally, you should have a clear trash folder. 

Empty trash Gmail
Click on Empty trash (or bin) now at the top right of the list of emails.

Wrapping Up

All in all, emptying the Trash folder is the only way to permanently delete emails in Gmail. As can be seen, this is a quick and easy process. Stay on top of your email by moving unwanted mail to the Trash folder and emptying it regularly.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens when emails are permanently deleted?

In Gmail permanently deleted emails are completely removed from your account. You cannot recover emails once the Trash folder is emptied.

Can you recover emails from the Trash folder?

If you move an email to the Trash folder, you can restore it to the inbox within 30 days. After that Gmail will delete all emails in the Trash folder permanently. 

Can you delete emails after you send them?

If you want to delete an email you sent, you can delete it from the Sent folder in your account. You cannot delete it from the recipient’s account. To prevent mistakenly sending emails you can retract them by using the Undo Send option, which is available for a few seconds after you send your message. You can set the amount of time you have to undo send by selecting a cancellation period of up to 30 seconds in your Gmail settings.

What's the difference between deleting and archiving emails?

Archiving emails is a way of removing emails from your inboxes but not deleting them. Deleting emails permanently removes the messages but archived emails are stored in a default Archive folder in Gmail. Archiving email does not reduce your storage capacity, but may be useful if you have important communications that you want to retain for a prolonged period.

Can I delete draft messages in Gmail?

You can empty your Drafts folder to the Trash folder by clicking on the square on the left-hand side of the header menu and selecting all the emails. You can then delete them by clicking on the trash can icon.

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