How to Automatically Delete Old Messages From Gmail

By Matt Skaggs

Manually deleting emails can quickly become tedious.
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Keeping your emails organized can be crucial to being efficient in your work, but even in an organized mailbox you may eventually realize that you have many unneeded old emails. Deleting these manually could be very time consuming, but with filters, a faster option is available. You can delete old messages by creating a filter that locates emails that are older than a certain time frame. However, filters only apply by when a new message is received, so newly received message will never be "older" than a few seconds. You can still use filters to automatically delete old messages if you reapply them in the future as needed.

Filter Setup

Log in to your Gmail account. Click the gear icon near the top-right corner of the window, then click "Settings" from the drop-down menu that appears.

Click the "Filters" section tab, then click "Create a new filter."

Type the following in the the "Has the words" text box:


For "x" you should type the time frame you prefer for deleting old messages. You can use "d" for days, "w" for weeks, "m" for months and "y" for years. For example, if you wanted to delete messages older than one month, you would type "older_than:1m" without the quotation marks.

Click "Create filter with this search."

Check the box beside the option labeled "Delete it" and the box beside "Also apply filter to." The latter option will also list the total number of conversations that fit your criteria.

Click "Create filter." All your emails older than the date you specified will be deleted.

Future Deletion

Click the gear icon in Gmail; then click "Settings."

Click the "Filters" tab.

Click the "Edit" option beside the filter you created for deleting old messages. You can easily find the correct filter because it will display the criteria you specified.

Click "Continue" in the section that appears with your search criteria. This screen looks like the section that appeared when you originally set up the filter.

Check the box beside the option "Also apply filter to."

Click "Update filter." This will again delete all your messages earlier than the time frame you specified.


When Gmail deletes your messages, they are sent to the "Trash" section, which is listed in the left-hand navigation section. They will remain in Trash for 30 days until they are permanently deleted. You delete all items in the trash if you prefer by click the "Trash" section and then clicking "Empty Trash now."