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It's unclear to me what exactly fills my "57% of 15 GB used". I imagine attachments count, but is that both on attachments sent and attachments received? If I delete the last remnant of that attachment (either my sent copy or all copies received), does that free the space, or is it permanently part of my space as long as the recipient/sender holds it? If we both use Gmail, does it use space in both of our accounts?

Do uploaded (non-external) embedded images count similarly, with the same rules as above? Do uploads re-included in a forwarded email count doubly (i.e., once for the original message, again for every instance of reinclusion)? Is the space freed upon move to the trash or upon actual deletion a month later?

To clarify: I know that Google Drive shares the space—I'm interested in how Gmail handles these specific edge cases.

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  • If you also use Google+ Photos and Google Drive - these also count towards the same space. Google unified it a short while ago.
    – MrWhite
    Aug 21 '13 at 15:55
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The 15 GBytes is not just Gmail, it is also Google drive and Google photos.

Life gets a bit easier when your Google products work well together—whether that’s inserting a Drive file into an email or sharing a photo from Drive on Google+. As this experience becomes more seamless, separate storage doesn’t make as much sense anymore. So instead of having 10 GB for Gmail and another 5 GB for Drive and Google+ Photos, you’ll now get 15 GB of unified storage for free to use as you like between Drive, Gmail, and Google+ Photos.

They even give you a page to tell you how much you are using. Hover over the pie chart to see the details.

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Gmail allocates you a certain amount of space to use. In this case, 15GB. Anything that you do related to email is stored in this allocated space. Everything you send, receive, forward, reply, spam, trash, and so on. You send an email, it gets stored in your sent folder. If you delete it, it gets placed into your Trash folder. Once you remove it from your Trash it is completely removed, therefore it takes no more space.

The size an email occupies is determined by the content of the email. HTML formatted emails are larger than plain text. Any attachment takes up more space depending on the size of the attachment. A 1MB photo takes more space than a 123KB pdf file.

If you reply of forward an email and you include the original content into your new email, the new one will be the size of the original plus whatever you added.

So yes. Everything counts towards the size of occupied space.

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Google Drive

Store files up to 10GB each. Anything you create with Docs, Sheets, or Slides won’t use up any of your storage.

Gmail

Attachments sent and received in Gmail as well as your email messages use your storage.

Google+ Photos

Photos bigger than 2048x2048 pixels use your storage. Everything smaller than that is free

From: https://www.google.com/settings/storage/summary?hl=en

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I imagine attachments count, but is that both on attachments sent and attachments received?

Both. See https://support.google.com/mail/thread/22570907?hl=en

"deleting your sent mail with large attachments WILL reduce YOUR storage , NOT the receivers - that's their decision IF they need space." This implies that both sent and received counts as storage.

If I delete the last remnant of that attachment (either my sent copy or all copies received), does that free the space, or is it permanently part of my space as long as the recipient/sender holds it?

Common sense would dictate that if you delete all your copies of the attachment, including sent, received, and any ones in the trash/archive, then it would no longer count as part of your space. I don't have proof for this however.

If we both use Gmail, does it use space in both of our accounts?

See answer to first question - an attachment sent would become another person's attachment received, so it would count against both of your accounts.

Is the space freed upon move to the trash or upon actual deletion a month later?

This is a tough one. Google literally says two different things about it (as of 2/17/2021) so I'm not sure what the answer is here.

The two conflicting answers:

"Not all files count against your storage space. For example, emails in your Gmail's Trash don't take up storage, but files in your Drive's Trash do."

"Messages and attachments, such as items in your Spam and Trash folders"

I've raised feedback pointing this out and hopefully someday this will be clarified.

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ALSO in addition to above when you attach a document to a CALENDAR event, it actually uploads it to the drive and reduces your storage space.

NOTE! If you delete the file from the calendar entry it DOES NOT clear the space used. Instead you must go to Google Drive and delete it there then go into the trash and empty the trash to truly free up the space from that document. (Trash will automatically empty anything that has been in the trash for over 30 days.)

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    Welcome to Web Applications. Please be more specific regarding what you are making reference as the answers could be sorted differently (this could be shown on top of the other answers)
    – Rubén
    Aug 29 at 21:47

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