For many of us, Google storage is the modern-day hard drive. It’s the place where our most important thoughts, documents, and memories reside. But just like with a traditional hard drive, the space isn’t infinite, and running out of room can be a real problem.
By default, Google gives you 15GB of space to use for everything associated with your account. (If you have a paid Google Workspace — formerly G Suite — account, your limit’s likely higher.) That includes content connected to Gmail, Google Drive, and all Google photos (except those saved before June 1st, 2021). Needless to say, data adds up fast.
You can check your current storage status by visiting this page, and if push comes to shove, you can purchase more space there, too, for as little as $2 a month for an extra 100GB. But shelling out more money might not be necessary. A quick round of old-fashioned housekeeping could be enough to clear away your virtual cobwebs and give yourself ample room to grow. Here’s how to do it.
Delete Drive debris
Google Drive is a common place for space-sucking files to build up and wear down your quota, but tidying things up doesn’t take long.
- Open this link, which will show you a list of all of your Drive files sorted by size with the largest items at the top
- Look through the heftiest offenders and delete anything you no longer need
- Click the gear-shaped icon in Drive’s upper-right corner, and select “Settings,” followed by “Manage Apps”
- For any apps that have a note about hidden data, click the gray “Options” box to the right, and select “Delete hidden app data”
Apps associated with your Google Drive storage can sometimes have hidden data, but all it takes is a couple of clicks to remove it.
Free up Photos storage
Unless you currently have a model 5 or earlier Pixel phone (in which case, you will, for now, keep the unlimited “Storage saver” option), as of June 1st, 2021, every photo and video backed up to Google Photos is going to count against your Google storage. If you’ve been saving photos at their original sizes, you can free up tons of space by converting them to Google’s “Storage saver” option (which used to be called “High quality”). This compresses images down to 16MP and videos to 1080p (a change that’s unlikely to be noticeable for most people and purposes).
- Go to the Photos settings page, and select “Storage saver”
- If you switch to “Storage saver,” your previous photos won’t automatically be compressed. To do that, on the Photos setting page look for the “Recover storage” button, which will compress many (but not all) of your existing videos and photos. (Check out the list on Google’s support page to see which images will be affected.)
Another handy resource on this same page is the “Manage storage” button. Tap that, and it will take you to a page which will tell you approximately how much more time you have before you fill up your storage space, and offer to find (and delete) blurry photos, screenshots, and other possibly unwanted images that are taking up space.
Say goodbye to Gmail junk
Emails don’t take up a ton of space, but you know what does? Attachments. Odds are, you’ve got plenty of old attachments sitting in your Gmail account that you don’t really need.
Here’s how to address that:
- Go to the Gmail website and type “has:attachment larger:10M” into the search box at the top
- Identify any messages with disposable attachments and delete them. (There’s no great way to get rid of an attachment without also deleting the associated email, unfortunately, but you can always forward a message back to yourself and manually remove the attachment before axing the original.)
- Open your Spam folder, and click the link to “Delete all spam messages now”
- Open your Trash folder, and select “Empty Trash now” to send everything away for good
Feeling lighter is liberating, isn’t it?
Update February 19th, 2021, 10:37AM ET: This article was originally published on March 19th, 2019. The information on Google Photos has been updated and it’s noted that G Suite is now Google Workspace.
Update October 21st, 2021, 10:00AM ET: Updated to account for changes in Google Photos’ storage options.