Getting to 0 Messages In Your Inbox

Incredulous laughter is the usual response when folks notice I have over 70,000 messages in my email inbox. I have developed a thick skin related to this issue and calmly explain that once I was able to retrieve a document that I had created on a long-gone computer through an old saved email. Hence, I’m reluctant to delete emails because I’m never sure when I will need the information they contain in the future.  That argument rarely sways the people who like everything neat and tidy.

Of course, the other issue is that eventually, I did run out of storage space with my email provider.  I now pay Google a monthly fee to provide additional storage in their cloud.  Hmmm… maybe I ought to clean out my inbox. Perhaps one of my strategies will help you to get to a super clean inbox.

What to look for

The example I am using above is from Gmail. However, all email accounts have similar capabilities. Let’s look at the arrows:

  • Black arrow: indicates that this page is displaying 50 messages. The little arrows next to the number allow you to move through the different pages.
  • Red arrow: allows you to search all of your messages for a specific topic or name.
  • Purple arrow: allows you to sort through your messages using specific criteria.  More on this feature below.

Below is an image of a Yahoo account as it looks in the Mail app on a Mac computer.

  • Maroon arrow: the search icon (magnifying glass) allows you to search your messages by topic or name.
  • Blue arrow: points to an icon that offers different options.

Sometimes you just have to poke around with the different icons until you find the feature you want.

1. Search and delete by topic or name

Notice that I typed “Boston Globe” into the search window. I then tapped Enter.  All of the emails that originated from the Boston Globe popped up.  I can highlight them all and a Trash Can icon will be appear. When I click on the Trash Can, the messages are deleted.

2. Search and delete by specific criteria such as unread or read

Simply click on the outlined box at the top of the messages and a menu drops down.  You can see the various criteria in the image above. Click on the one you want and the list of messages meeting that specification will be highlighted. Once again, click on the Trash Can and they will be deleted.

As you look at the image above, please notice that the unread messages have a check in the box to the left. When I click on the Trash Can they will be deleted, but the unchecked messages will remain.

3. Unsubscribe

Often when we make an online purchase, we are asked for our email address. Almost immediately emails appear in our inbox.  It’s fairly easy to unsubscribe to these messages, but you may need a magnifying glass because the unsubscribe option is often in tiny print at the bottom of the message.

Here’s an example.  I had to scroll all the way to the bottom to find the option.  Just click on unsubscribe and follow the directions.  I actually find the tips useful that come from this group so I won’t be unsubscribing!

iPhone & iPad

Of course, the procedures are different on a mobile device.  The following examples are using an iPad’s Mail app. The procedure is the same on an iPhone.

First, notice there is a search window. Therefore, you can gather all of the emails from a specific source or that have the same subject. Secondly, notice that the option to unsubscribe is right at the top of the message. When you want to Delete, you must tap Edit in the upper right-hand corner. Blank circles will appear to the left of each message. See below.

Tap on the messages you wish to delete. But wait! You are not finished! Tap on Move. You will be presented with a variety of choices, Tap on Trash to Delete.

If you are striving for a daily empty email inbox, hopefully, these strategies will help.

At the very least, they will facilitate a good spring cleaning!

Image: Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

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