Google Apps Tips: Archiving Old Email
Cure Your Inbox of ‘Inbox Bloat’ by Archiving Old Email
Does your Inbox consist of more that 100 messages? 500 messages? Maybe even thousands of messages? If so, you’ve got a case of Inbox Bloat!
There’s really no reason to keep all that email in your Inbox. It’s much easier to archive your old messages. Archiving your old email helps in a couple of ways:
- It helps you better manager your Inbox by keeping it neat, tidy, and uncluttered.
- It helps reduce your stress level. Many people tend to feel overwhelmed when their Inbox is full of old messages.
- By reducing your Inbox to only new messages, or those messages you need to take care in the near future, your workload doesn’t seem so insurmountable. Hence, your stress is reduced!
- It also helps provide a sense of accomplishment. Think about it – if your Inbox contained only a few select messages, wouldn’t you feel like you accomplished something?
Archiving Gmail is quite a bit different than the archiving you probably remember from your previous email application. If you’re unclear of how archiving works in Gmail, or have questions about archiving, see our “what is archiving” document.
Now, let’s rid you of Inbox Bloat!
First, note how many messages you currently have in your Inbox by looking at the information at the top right of your Inbox. Looks like we have 137 messages in our Inbox.
- Before archiving your older messages, determine how old a message should be before you archive it. For our example, we’re going to first search for all messages older than 30 days. When searching for a specific date in Gmail, you must enter it in the following format: yyyy/mm/dd
- Press Enter or click Search Mail to search for messages matching the specified search criteria. Below we can see that the search returned about 120 messages that matched the search.
- To archive the messages, first click the ‘All’ selection link. Gmail only marks the messages currently visible in the search window. This may be satisfactory if all the messages returned from the search display in the window. If there are more messages than can currently be displayed in the window, click Select all conversations that match this search to select all the messages returned from your search.
- Click Archive and then OK to the dialog that displays.
- Return to your Inbox and notice the number of messages in your Inbox. That certainly seems more manageable! But, there are probably still messages in your Inbox that aren’t older than 30 days, but that you’ve already read. You might as well archive those as well.
The search above first searches only messages in the Inbox (in:inbox) and then only those messages that arrived before September 19, 2010 (before:2010/09/19).
First, you modify your current search information:
- Delete ‘before:yyyy/mm/dd’ – or whatever your date was. Your search should now simply be: in:inbox
- Add a space after ‘in:inbox’ and type in: is:read. ‘is:read’ searches for all messages in your Inbox that you’ve opened or read. Your search should now look like this:
- Click Search Mail.
- Now, select all the messages by clicking the selection link ‘All’. Remember to click Select all conversations that match this search to select all the messages.
- Lastly, click Archive!
There you are. Your Inbox is clean and tidy and no longer has that bloated feeling. Don’t you feel better? Note that we were able to reduce our Inbox to 5 messages. Your results will vary.
And finally, here’s a tip to help keep your Inbox from future Inbox Bloat. Access Gmail labs and enable the ‘Send & Archive’ lab. After enabling the lab, you will now see a new button at the bottom of your message whenever you reply to message.
Clicking ‘Send & Archive’ sends the message to the recipient and then automatically archives the message. Clicking ‘Send’ simply sends the message, but keeps the original message in your Inbox.