Email can be a tough thing to manage. In a work environment, it’s imperative that you keep an organized inbox in order to maintain efficiency. A cluttered inbox can prove a rather huge pain, especially when you’re forced to scroll through mountains of older emails you may no longer need. At one time, those older emails may have served a purpose but have since turned into additional hurdles when looking for a specific email. An inbox filled with spam can really take away from your ability to manage your email library, and while there are plenty of ways to keep your email from getting on additional spam lists—we recommend sending your email anonymously —you still have to clear out the old spam messages that found their way into your inbox in the first place.
To avoid a lot of time consumption I wouldn’t recommend attempting to delete all of your older emails manually. Instead, thanks to the help of filters, you’ll be able to get rid of those emails much faster. By creating a filter you can delete old messages based on a specified time frame. The only problem I can see with using filters is that they only apply to newly received messages. You can apply filters in the future to ensure the pileup doesn’t occur for a second time but what about those emails filling up your inbox now?
Auto-Delete Old Emails in Gmail
There are a few things to dive into when it comes to ridding yourself of those older, no longer necessary emails plaguing your Gmail inbox. I’ll go over how to set up your filters, apply them for future use, and how to get rid of all of the current old emails using the Gmail add-on, Email Studio .
Setting Up Your Filters
First thing’s first, let’s set up your Filters.
- Log in to your Gmail account with the required credentials.
- Locate the Cog/Gear icon. This is the Gmail Settings menu and can be found at the top-right corner of the window. Click on this icon and then select Settings from the drop-down menu.
- Click over to the “Filters” tab and then click on Create a new filter.
- In the “Has the words” input box, type in the following – older_than:x where “x” is the time frame of the messages you want to be deleted. This will be a number followed by a letter. The letters that follow will pertain to the time frame. You’ll have to use “d” for days, “w” for weeks, and “m” for months. An example would be older_than:3d if you wanted to delete emails that are older than three days.
- Next, click the Create filter with this search button.
- Fill in the boxes labeled “Delete it” and “Also apply filter to” with a check mark by clicking on them.
- Finally, click Create filter to witness all of your older emails, based on the date you just set, move from your inbox to your trash folder.
When messages are deleted in Gmail, they don’t instantly vanish from existence. Instead, you can find them in your Trash folder. This means that those emails will still count against your overall data capacity. To rid them in their entirety, you can either wait for Gmail to auto-delete them after 30-days or delete them all now yourself. To perform the latter, click on the Trash folder and then click the link Empty Trash Now.
Filter for Future Deletion (Re-application)
The title of this article is dealing with automatic deletion. Unfortunately, filters cannot be triggered automatically. You will need to go back and once again apply the filter to your current inbox.
To re-apply a filter:
- Head back into your Settings by clicking the Cog/Gear icon at the top-right of the Gmail window and selecting Settings from the drop-down.
- Click the “Filters” tab.
- Since you’ve already created a filter previously, you can now click Edit, which is located next to that filter. If you’ve previously created multiple filters, you can easily find the one you desire as the criteria for each filter will be displayed.
- Click Continue in the section that appears with your search criteria. It will be a screen similar to the one that appeared when you set up the original filter.
- Once again apply a check mark to the box next to “Also apply filter to.”
- This time, to activate the filter, click Update filter. All of your older emails, set to the specified time frame, will now be whisked away to the Trash folder.
Email Studio  comes with a nifty feature that will automatically delete all of your older emails from a specified sender or those located in a specific folder. The built-in Auto-Purge feature will help keep your Gmail mailbox far more organized leading to a more efficient work environment.
With Email Studio, you can archive and apply “Mark as Read” to all emails currently in your inbox that have been there for over three months. It also allows you to permanently remove all emails from your Trash and Spam folders automatically after two days. As an extra added bonus, the Auto-Purge includes an email unsubscribe feature that can help you easily remove your email address from any of those pesky newsletter mailing lists. There is also plenty more the add on is capable of but I feel that those already mentioned highlight exactly what we need for this article.
The basic package is free to use but to get the most out of the product, a premium version is offered at a $29 annual price tag. The upgrade will allow you to create multiple sets of purge rules and includes an email scheduler, forwarder, and an auto-responder.
Setup and Enable Auto-Purging in Gmail
Obviously, the first thing you’ll need to do is download and install the Email Studio  add-on. Once that has been achieved, you’ll be able to see the Email Studio icon off to the right sidebar when you open up any of your Gmail email messages.
To use it:
- Open the Email Studio add-on and login using your Gmail account.
- You’ll see a list of options. From those options, choose the “Email Cleanup” tool.
- Then, click on Add new rule in order to set up a rule (kind of like what you did with the Filters).
- There are two parts to setting up a rule – you’ll need to specify a condition and then an action. Think “cause and effect”. The action will trigger once the specified condition is met.
- To set a condition, you will be able to use advanced search parameters within Gmail such as newer_than or has:attachment or larger_than. Use these to help you find the exact match up to the Gmail emails you wish to Archive, send to the Trash, or relocate to another folder.
- Once a rule has been created, click the Save button. Email Studio will now operate in the background, performing a run-check every hour performing the specified action when an email meets the conditions associated with it. You’ll have no need to do anything manually at all.