How can I put my gmail account on a diet just losing specific attachments?

My google account is up to 12.5 GB. All but a fraction of that is email.

I want to put my gmail account on a diet.

The problem stems from quoted messages. If a message has an attachment, then the reply ALSO has an attachment, unless I explicitly delete it on creation of a reply.

In conversation view I have 79 threads that are over 10 MB. In unthreaded view I have 279 and it's a lot of the same subject lines.

Example: I sent an image to my sister. I don't want it using my Gmail quota which is getting close to max. She replies. Now that image is in my original and in her reply. If I don't explictly remove quoted text, if I reply to her, I now have 3 copies of that image.

Yes, I know. Store the image as a high quality image and send her a link. Gmail's photo repository is not designed for large numbers of images. Finding anything takes half a forever once you have a hundred thousand images or so.

One option is to delete the thread. Less than useful.

One option is to delete just the message. But the message is quoted in other messages. I don't think this will be fruitful.

One option is 'save to Drive'

If I save to drive, is it's presence in my email replaced by a link in Drive? Probably not.

Then if I delete it in drive is it gone, leaving an empty link? Ideally this would be implemented internally on gmail servers as hard links.

The first obvious answer is 'try it and see'. But from other readings I suspect that Google is lazy about file clean up. Certainly the update time between deleting something and getting it to show up on your quota is far from instant.

Option 1: Is there a program that can edit my mail folders, moving images to Drive as mere High Quality images, and replacing the image with a link to the image on drive?

Option 2: Is there an add-on that I can use that will edit my messages and remove quoted text from the messages? Ideally this can target an individual thread or a particular label. Also: This add-on has to be smart enough to recognize that sometimes a reply is interleaved with the original, and in that case, it is NOT to delete the quoted text.

Option 3: Is there a mac email client that understands labels and can archive older email on my local machine, but leave the last N years on gmail's servers?

The solution has to be reasonably quick. I have 18,000 messages.


Gmail and Google Drive share the same storage quota, so if you move your attachments from Gmail to Google Drive you will not save storage space.

If I save to drive, is it's presence in my email replaced by a link in Drive?

Then if I delete it in drive is it gone, leaving an empty link?

No, If you save to Drive, you are saving a copy then you will be closer to the max quota than before until you delete the attachment.

You could use Google Apps Script to save the attachments to Google Drive then delete the original messages (I think that I read some articles but I don't have at hand right now).

An "advanced" solution could be saving the emails messages as Google Documents as they don't consume storage quota, with links to the Google Drive copy of the attachments but this will not same significant amounts of storage quota.


  • Images stored as high quality images instead of originals do not count against quota. Gmail seems to store multiple copies of attachments in quoted replies. Replacing all copies with a single link would be a net win. Replacing all image copies with a single link to a mere high quality would also be a win. Being able to 'remove quoted text from this conversation' add on would be a win. – Sherwood Botsford Aug 10 '20 at 13:35

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