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Sign up for a Google account, and you get 15GB of cloud storage space for free, split across three main products—Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Photos. Once you exceed that limit, you need to sign up for a Google One storage plan, and they start at $1.99 per month for 100GB of space.

Provided you’re smart about how you use your free storage, and you don’t have masses of files that need storing in the cloud, you can stay inside that free 15GB of allotted room. The steps to take and the tricks to use vary slightly between Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Photos, and we’ve outlined them below. To see how much space you’re using across each Google product, visit this page and sign into your account.

It’s worth mentioning that should you exceed your storage limit of 15GB, your files won’t suddenly disappear—you just won’t be able to add new ones (Google says you “may not” be able to receive emails in Gmail either.) You’ll need to free up some space or pay for a Google One plan to start adding files again.


screenshot of Gmail

Gmail can help you decide which emails aren’t important.

Gmail via David Nield

Individual emails tend to not take up too much room, but if you’ve had your Gmail account for years then you might find they’re starting to take up a significant amount of storage. One way of clearing the decks can be to look for and wipe older emails: Type “older_than:1y” into the search box at the top of Gmail to look for messages older than a year. You can change the year, or switch to months if you want—”older_than:3m” or “older_than:6m” for example.

When your ‘older than…’ emails appear, click the selection box above the list on the left to select all of them, then click the Select all conversations that match this search option (this might not appear if your search hasn’t returned many results). Click the Delete button (the trash can icon) and the selected emails are erased—or rather they’re sent to the Trash folder for 30 days, and then they’re erased.

Emails with large attachments can also take up a lot of room in your Gmail inbox. In the search box, type “has:attachment larger:10m” to find messages with attachments bigger than 10 megabytes (you can adjust this number in either direction if you want). As before, click the selection box to the top left to select all the emails you’ve found, then click Delete to get rid of them.