14

I'm on a list-serv that gets emails from crons for several hundred servers. The volume of emails is about 1G/week, so to keep from bumping up against my 15G disk quota, I have to delete messages periodically. I have a filter in Gmail that adds the label 'label:inbox-zbark' to these.

I use a search like this to find a week's worth of emails:

label:inbox-zbark before:2018/12/16 after:2018/12/09

Then I can select a week's worth of messages by using the 'select all' button (which chooses the 100 conversations on the current page), then clicking the 'Select all conversations that match this search' button. I click the delete button and confirm the bulk action.

The problem is that above about 1000 conversations (which may have 100 emails a piece) gmail will either refuse to delete messages, or will throw an oops error. I can usually delete conversations 100 at a time, but this is very time consuming, and, at a certain point, gmail becomes markedly less responsive.

Gmail's trash folder has similar issues. At a certain point, the 'empty trash' button stops working... I can click the button, gmail will report All messages have been deleted., but the messages still show in the trash folder.

I'm looking for a better way to mass delete emails, doing it through inbox is getting painful.

2
  • Did you ever find a solution? I have the same problem :( – rangfu May 28 '19 at 15:01
  • 1
    @rangfu - The answer below by Chris worked really well for me. – acm Sep 16 '20 at 14:15
9
  • Go to https://script.google.com
  • Create a new script

    function deleteOldEmail() { var batchSize = 100 while (true) { var threads = GmailApp.search('before:2018/10/12'); for (j = 0; j < threads.length; j+=batchSize) { GmailApp.moveThreadsToTrash(threads.slice(j, j+batchSize)); } } }

Save the project and click "run".
You will need to give the script access to your Gmail. It might take a few hours/days to complete running.

5
  • This is a fantastic answer and I'd propose that it become the accepted answer for this question, as there currently isn't one. I did make some small modifications in my usage. First, Google indicates on their docs (developers.google.com/apps-script/reference/gmail/…) that they would prefer you used the paged API that takes a starting point and a range rather than returning the entire search results, so I refactored the loop to behave that way. Second, the current quotas mean that it will only run for six minutes before needing a restart. Triggers hit quotas too. – acm Sep 16 '20 at 13:58
  • 1
    @Barton Chittenden - I encourage you to accept this answer to your question, as it is definitely the best answer here. – acm Sep 21 '20 at 17:15
  • It shows "Exceeded maximum execution time" – user2335065 Dec 10 '20 at 15:28
  • 1
    @user2335065 This function could be improved to avoid the error but the easier solution is to run it again until all the emails be deleted. You could even create a time-driven trigger to run this function every n mins where n is greater than 6 mins in case that you are using a @gmail.com account or n is greater than 30 mins is you have a G Suite / Workspace account – Rubén Jan 22 at 22:17
  • This doesn't really work unfortunately. You will eventually hit the error "Exception: Service invoked too many times for one day: gmail." after only ~10-20k emails have been deleted, and in order to get there you have to manually restart the script several times when you get the error "Exceeded maximum execution time". A better solution is needed for deleting 100k+ emails. – Kerrick Staley Jan 23 at 2:38
1

Thanks @Chris for your answer which helps.

Being a JS dev, I wrote a more consistant version of it with batch actions and possible delay (in milliseconds):

function deleteBatch(searchCriteria, batchSize, delay) {
  var emails = GmailApp.search(searchCriteria, 0, batchSize);
  if (emails.length) {
    console.log(`${emails.length} found. Moving to trash...`);
    GmailApp.moveThreadsToTrash(emails);
    Utilities.sleep(delay);
    deleteBatch(searchCriteria, batchSize, delay);
  }
}

deleteBatch('label:inbox-zbark before:2018/12/16 after:2018/12/09', 100, 1000);

0

I don't know if you fixed this or not, but I was running into the same problem. If I choose to "move" the conversations into trash rather than delete them, it works for me. Hope it helps.

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