How can I archive thousands of gmail messages?
April 20, 2006 11:03 AM   Subscribe

I've fallen far behind in archiving my gmail Inbox and would like to clear it out. How can I archive every single message (more than 4,000) that's in there now?

From what I can tell, select-all just selects the 20 on your screen at that time, and I don't want to do that 200 times. I don't care about labeling everything, and I don't want to delete everything, I'd just like it archived, and out of my inbox.
posted by davebug to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I hope you can come up with a better solution, but if not, one of the settings is "Number of conversations per page", which can be up to 100. Doing it 40 times is less bad than doing it 200, right?
posted by JMOZ at 11:06 AM on April 20, 2006

This was addressed here.
posted by interrobang at 11:19 AM on April 20, 2006 could go to "settings" and have it display 100 messages at a time. This wouldn't solve your problem, but it'd cut it down a bit.
posted by interrobang at 11:21 AM on April 20, 2006

Configure POP access (Settings -> Forwarding and POP) such that GMail will archive every message you download (When messages are accessed with POP: archive GMail's copy). Then set up your email client to use GMail as the POP server ( and fetch your mail. All messages will be automatically archived.
posted by koenie at 11:24 AM on April 20, 2006

Note that by "email client" I mean Outlook Express or Thunderbird, i.e. a program an your computer that can connect to an external server.
posted by koenie at 11:25 AM on April 20, 2006

Yeah, gmail sucks for bulk things. I recently cleared out 36,000 messages (which I put in there to get a feel for how gmail would handle my mail spool).

The secret is displaying 100 at a time and using the keyboard shortcuts. Click "all" to select all the messages on the screen, then hit the "y" key to archive them. Repeat 40 times.

posted by Laen at 11:29 AM on April 20, 2006

D'oh. I hate it when I accidentally sign something.
posted by Laen at 11:29 AM on April 20, 2006

Following on from Koenie's suggestion, when you have the optin to download the messages by POP (account settings>Forwarding and POP) you have the option to choose "Enable POP for all mail (even mail that's already been downloaded)" - this should sweep up everything that's in your inbox... the downside is that you'll then have them in your e-mail client, but it's pretty easy to set up an auto-filter to delete them as they come through.
Make sure that you also change step 2: "When messages are accessed with POP" to "archive Google Mail's copy" else you won't get anywhere ;-)
posted by Chunder at 11:33 AM on April 20, 2006

the downside is that you'll then have them in your e-mail client

You can set up a temporary account to avoid mixing email messages. Just delete the account when all messages have been downloaded.
posted by koenie at 11:37 AM on April 20, 2006

Pay a kid to do it for you. Show Suzy or Bobby what you want done, promise some money, and then walk away and do something fun while the kid earns a few bucks.
posted by pracowity at 11:48 AM on April 20, 2006

I use WinBatch to do this sort of thing - labelling and archiving withing search results. Set up a very trivial script that clicks on 'select all' then moved them into a specific folder, then archive. It's not a highly repeatable solution, since I just programmed it to use the screen coordinates, not anything fancier, but it took me about 10 minutes to set up the script, then I left it working and went to take a shower.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:55 AM on April 20, 2006

maybe this will help?
posted by Building at 5:58 PM on April 20, 2006

GMail has actually fixed this, if anyone still cares. After you select all on the screen, you now get a secondary prompt that asks whether you want to select all in the folder. Woo.
posted by smackfu at 7:20 PM on August 1, 2006

« Older Planning now for better opportunities for my...   |   Period Spottage Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.