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Google have started to warn me that I am almost out of space in my Gmail account. How can I sort my messages by size to identify any expendable large emails in my account?

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you should change the accepted answer in light of the new answers. – antony.trupe Jan 16 '13 at 4:08

11 Answers 11

up vote 29 down vote accepted

This is not possible at the moment. If you look at the list of search operators, you'll see that the closest thing you can do is filter out all mails with an attachment.

An alternative would be to use an IMAP client (such as Thunderbird) and then use that interface.

Since you want that feature, express your needs over at the feature-suggestion site of Gmail.

Update 2014-02-20: Gmail has now size: and larger: operators.

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If you're a programmer, you can also use the IMAP interface to query by size. That's how www.findbigmail.com does it. – mm2001 Mar 17 '12 at 0:31
This is possible now: See steabert's post below: webapps.stackexchange.com/a/31431/19241 – JonathanMumm Oct 15 '12 at 18:05

When I had to search for a large e-mail, I went for the try-and-see-if-it-works method, and used the search term size:5000000 to find e-mail of 5MB large, and that seemed to actually find all my emails larger than 5MB. I tried different numbers and it seemed to work consistently.

Even though this operator isn't documented in the advanced search options, it worked for me. :)

As of November, 2012, this is now an officially-supported search operator. The syntax is a little different than it was.

to find emails larger than 5MB, you can search for size:5m or larger:5m

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This is actually working! – Alex Sep 24 '12 at 9:56
I know, great isn't it!! ;) – steabert Sep 24 '12 at 10:00
This is now an officially supported search operator. – Al E. Nov 15 '12 at 1:49
Unfortunately, the OP is probably not going to come back and accept this answer. – Al E. Nov 15 '12 at 1:53
@Al: thanks for the updated info & link. – steabert Nov 15 '12 at 11:00

Sadly you can't sort by size so you might find this article at Lifehacker on how to clear down your Gmail account useful.

One of the recommendations is using the filename: operator to find larger attachments, e.g. filename:wmv

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This isn't exactly the quickest way, but you could search by file types first, which might help you narrow down large e-mails. For instance, you could do a search for video file types (which are huge) first, like this:

has:attachment (*.mov || *.wmv || *.avi)

or zip files, like:

has:attachment (*.zip || *.rar || *.7z || *.tar.gz)

Etc., etc. Hope that helps!

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Sorry...I didn't realize Dave Webb had said something similar. My bad. – jrc03c Jul 8 '10 at 13:54

FindBigMail will label all your large quota-killing messages. Just click the various labels to show messages that are greater than the size indicated by the label.

... or this is a very round-about way, but you can:

  1. Download your emails with Gmail Backup. Each individual email is downloaded as an EML file. Many email programs can read EML files; they are just plain text.
  2. Prune out all the large EML files. You can sort all the EML files by size.
  3. Restore the backup to Gmail. You will probably need to delete the messages from Gmail, first.

I am using Gmail Backup to migrate my mail to a new Gmail account. Also, I am fixing the timezone on several emails. (They got the wrong timezone because I imported an Outlook IMAP store from a computer with a different timezone.)

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Someone has worked out a way to do this with Google Docs. The beauty of this method is that you don't need to rely on a third-party; everything stays within the Google ecosystem.

The idea is that your Google Docs will connect to your Gmail account and compute the size of every message that’s present in your mailbox. If it finds a bulky message (size > 1 MB), it will make a note of it in the spreadsheet.

Once the sheet has a list of all the bulky message, you can sort the sheet by the Size column to find the big ones. Or use the Filter option (the Funnel icon) to find messages that are within a particular range (5 MB < size < 10 MB). Click the “View” link to open the corresponding message in Gmail, forward it to a secondary email address and delete it from the primary Inbox to recover space.

That’s all the theory you should know, let’s now put this program into action:

  1. Create a copy of this sheet in your Google Docs account.
  2. A new Gmail Menu will appear in the sheet after 5-10 seconds. Select “Reset Canvas” from the Gmail menu to initialize your sheet.
  3. Accept the authorization screen and then choose Grant Access to let Google Docs access your Gmail Inbox. This is completely safe because your own Google Docs account is requesting access to your own Gmail account (see source code).
  4. Once the permissions have been granted, choose “Scan Mailbox” from the Gmail menu to start the scanning process.

Sit back and relax as the last step may take time depending on how big your Gmail mailbox is. Also, if the program is stuck or if you accidentally close the browser tab, open the same Google sheet, choose “Scan Mailbox” again and the script will resume scanning from where it left off.

I have not tried it yet, but I'm going to. I'll report back.

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Download them all to Outlook and sort the emails by size. Using IMAP should download them (e.g. headers only) quicker.

If you don't like Outlook, then you can use Opera's email IMAP client. It works wonderfully with Gmail's IMAP implementation. (Well, not with Google Apps, but that's a different story.)

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I found a cool iPhone app that handles this smoothly: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/search-mail-by-size/id388632871?mt=8

I do most things from my iPhone anyway, so I really liked this solution when I needed to make some space in my mailbox.

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The link I meant to post was this one: itunes.apple.com/us/app/search-mail-by-size/id388632871?mt=8 – Tessy Feb 19 '12 at 13:46

There is a Chrome Extension for sorting emails by attachment size:

Sort Emails by Attachment Size For Gmail

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Please do not use URL shorteners here. – Al E. Jan 15 '15 at 23:58

There is searchgmailbysize.com which claims to list your at least attachments by size. Personally I wouldn't trust the site with my credentials as it is not even using OAuth.

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I tried with a throw-away account, and it works as advertised... however I think FindBigMail.com is more secure and usable (you can check the contents of the mail before deleting.) – Leftium Nov 10 '10 at 17:42

Here's a simple Google Script that will help you sort your mailbox by size.

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