Does your Inbox have more that 100 messages? 500 messages? Maybe even thousands? If so, you’ve got a case of Inbox Bloat! There’s really no reason to keep all that email in your Inbox. It’s much easier to archive your old messages. Why? Archiving helps you:
Remember, you can always get back to any message you archived, either by going to your All Mail label or simply performing a search. If you’re not sure how archiving works in Gmail, here’s some information that should help: What is archiving?
So one tactic for cleaning out your Inbox is to get rid of all messages. To begin, see how many messages you currently have in your Inbox by looking at the top left of your message list. Looks like we have 228 messages!
Next, decide how old a message should be before you archive it. For our example, we’ll search for all messages in our Inbox that are older than 30 days. You can easily do this using keyword searches. To search for a specific date, enter before:yyyy/mm/dd as in before:2011/10/1. To concentrate only on messages in your Inbox, enter in:inbox. Our search would therefore look like this:
In the search results below, we see that 145 messages matched the search. To quickly archive all these messages:
Going back to your Inbox, you should now notice a lot fewer messages. That certainly seems more manageable! But, there are probably still messages you’ve already read that you might as well archive, too. To do that, let’s do another search - this time for all messages in your inbox (in:inbox) that you’ve already read (is:read). As such, your search would look like this:
When you get these results, perform the same steps as above to archive them. (Remember to check the Select all conversations that match this search box, if you have more results than fit in the current view.)
There you are. Your Inbox is clean and tidy. Don’t you feel better? As you can see below, we were able to reduce our Inbox to 6 messages. Your results will, of course, vary.
Finally, here’s a tip to help keep your Inbox from any future bloat. Go to the Labs tab in your Gmail Settings and enable the Send & Archive lab. This adds a new button at the top of your compose form. Clicking Send & Archive sends your message and automatically archives the message, all in one fell swoop! By contrast, clicking Send would simply send the message while the original would remain in your Inbox.