How To Delete All Unread Emails in Gmail: Simple Steps To Follow

Team Polymail

Each day, you receive a mass of different emails. While some emails are important to your job or lifestyle, a lot of the emails you receive have no real value, task, or urgent message.

Referred to as noise or junk mail, these messages are the result of using your email for store savings, websites, subscriptions, and online purchases. 

These unwanted messages can quickly become overwhelming, and people handle them in different ways. For some, they simply click on the email and click away so it doesn’t show as unread, while others may click on the email and then delete it. Many of these messages don’t need to be opened in the first place -- you know you weren't going to read it, so consider deleting these emails and saving a little time and space for the actually important stuff.

Here’s how you do it. 

Why is My Inbox Full?

As the internet, e-Commerce, and digital marketing continued to grow, every store checkout, social media page, and online profile required an email address to gain access.

When you put your email into these accounts, you give them access and legal right to send you advertisements and other materials. While one or two of these subscriptions can be managed with ease, over time these messages add up. 

Multiple Emails

A common trend to reduce the amount of noise within your email is the use of multiple email accounts. Most commonly, this includes a junk email, private email, and professional email. 

Professional email accounts focus on the idea of creating a professional appearance, and a place for important messages to be sent. This is a great option for job offers, legal documents, and other messages that you don’t want buried by junk mail. This also creates some separation from your social media and other accounts you may not want an employer to see.

Private Email accounts give you the chance to sign up for accounts that may be more important to you but aren’t quite junk just yet. This could be for social media accounts, blogs, and other accounts that you may actually log into. If you’re not careful, these online accounts can fill your inbox, too. It’s important to stay well organized and sort your incoming messages. 

Junk email accounts are for the spam, advertisements, subscriptions, and other “insert your email for access” type web pages that you don’t necessarily care to actually read through. Unless there’s a reason to read through these messages, you may let this inbox fill without really checking it. 

While you may have other email addresses, such as student or work accounts, those accounts should focus on those specific purposes, remaining relatively empty or up to date. You don’t want to let these accounts fill with unread messages since the content is usually more important. 

Google Search Shortcuts

To get the most out of the Google search bar, you will need to use search bar shortcuts. These are type as prompts when searching, followed by descriptions. 

  • From: will search a specified sender
  • To: will search a specified recipient 
  • CC or BCC: will search someone who has received a copy
  • Subject: will search words or phrases in the email title or subject line
  • OR will search multiple message terms such as From:Amy OR From:Ron
  • - removes messages from a set such as Subject:coupon -receipts
  • Around will search for words within a specified distance of other words such as Gift Around 10 Birthday which will only select messages where the word gift is within 10 words of the word birthday. “quotations” added to this shortcut will ensure the words stay in the given order, so gift would have to come before birthday
  • Label: will search specified labels 
  • Has: will search messages that have items such as attachments, files, or images which can also be used with terms such as Youtube, Drive, spreadsheet, presentation, and more. 
  • List: will search messages from a specified mailing list
  • Filename: will search a file type or specified name 
  • “ ” will search for a specific phrase which will need to be spelled the exact same way as quoted. 
  • ( ) will group terms together
  • Is: will search actions taken on a message such as unread, read, starred, snoozed, important, or chat.
  • Has: will search icons added to the messages such as colored stars. 
  • Time Frames allows you to see message only sent during certain times
  • After:
  • Before:
  • Older_Than:
  • Newer_Than:
  • Dates can be added as mo/dd/year or year/mo/dd or as a certain number of days such as 2d (2 days).
  • Category searches messages which have been marked or categorized by gmail such as primary, social, promotional, update, forum, reservation, or purchases.
  • Size: shows messages displayed larger than the specified bytes. This can also be typed as Larger: or Smaller: to better define the size.

These search shortcuts will allow you to better refine your selections within the search bar to ensure you’re deleting only the messages that should be deleted.

Deleting Emails  

Once an email is read or looked at and you realize it will no longer be needed, it’s important to get rid of these emails to reduce clutter. Archiving emails will place them into an unseen folder, while deleting them will actually remove them and clear up space. 

If emails are left unchecked, important information can very quickly become buried and more difficult to notice or find. 

To delete single emails, or small sets, you can delete them from any platform. Mobile apps allow you to utilize swipe-to-delete, allowing you to simply swipe your finger over an email and remove it from your inbox. 

To delete singular emails from a computer, you can take a few couple different routes. By clicking the email, a variety of options will appear at the top. Clicking the trash can will delete a singular email. If you select the box on the left side of the emails, you could select multiple messages to be deleted with one click. This can become time consuming, and mass deletes using search shortcuts can become the perfect solution. 

Why Delete Unread Emails

For one reason or another, you found yourself with a large selection of unread emails that need deleted. 

This is common for your junk email account, but can be found with your other accounts once you have organized your accounts, especially with messages that were less than important and were stored out of site in various folders. These messages are still unread, and need deleted. 

Older emails especially should be deleted. Emails are considered to have an “expiration date,” or time when the information and deals would still be considered relevant. Deleting old emails can free us space and allow later search to be simplified. 

The constant addition of emails throughout the day can become mentally tiring as you are always drawn to see if something is important, or junk. Regardless if you're notified by a ding, or you simply see the unread bubble, many people feel inclined to check their emails immediately. 

The goal to successfully manage your email is accomplishing Inbox Zero, which refers to keeping your mind away from your inbox, when you’re not checking emails. Consider setting time aside at the beginning or end of the day to check your inbox. 

Deleting All Unread Emails in Gmail

Before conducting a mass delete, be sure that the messages being deleted are unimportant. 

Once the messages are deleted, they are gone. 

  1. Open Gmail from a computer through a web browser. 
  2. In the search bar at the top, type “is.unread
  3. This will display all unread messages. 
  4. At the top on the left, a small empty box will display “Select” -- click this box.
  5. All messages should turn blue and receive a small check in this box. 
  6. At the top of the page, scroll over the trash can that says “Delete”.
  7. Click this trash can, which will delete all unread messages. 

Similar mass deletes can be conducted using different Google search shortcuts. 


Inboxes can quickly become overwhelmed with various junk mail, and feel like a never ending task of trying to catch up. While deleting all unread emails will free up space and allow you to be caught up, improved email practices allow you to stay organized and reduce the junk. 

Using advanced email softwares such as Polymail can provide services and options to keep your inbox empty, and the important messages in view. It’s time to take control of your email turning your mutch dreaded inbox into a platform for success.


Subscribe to Polymail Blog

Get our updates in your inbox.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.