I am lousy at inbox management with my Gmail. I have over 5000 "unread" messages. What that really means, of course, is that I'm ignoring 90% of what comes in. And then, once it gets into numbers like that, the interface for deleting things is just unwieldy. (Remember the early days when they tried to argue that there was enough space that you never needed to delete anything? Sure I can archive, but I don't want to archive stuff I never read and never plan to read.)
I just found a trick I'm quite happy with that should help take care of some of that bulk:
- Search for a string that's unique for what you want to delete. Typically this would be the sender's entire name, but if you want to get creative, go for it.
- Gmail will tell you how many conversations matched, and show you the first 20 or so.
- Select all. You'll get those 20.
- In the status message that tells you "20 conversations selected", there'll be a link that says "Select all conversations that match this search." Click that!
- Now, hit Delete. Gmail will warn you of what you're about to do. Go for it.
- Tada! Potentially hundreds of old emails wiped out, without having to page through months of messages 20 at a time.
- Optionally, go into Trash and do a "delete forever". Otherwise all you really did was move them from one place to another.
Unless I'm mistaken, you can't sort gmail by sender, and this is exactly why you'd want to do that - bulk deleting. At least with this trick if you can identify it as something you want to bulk delete, it's only a few clicks away.
BONUS TIP - Trying to figure out what to delete? Hit that "Oldest" button in the lower right corner to jump to your oldest conversations, and start there. The stuff on the front page is still new enough in your mind that you're thinking about whether to keep it. But the oldest stuff might go back months or longer, and you'll find yourself saying "I forgot I even had that" for things that you can now happily blow away.