Best of A Parent in Silver Spring: How to Delete All Unread Messages in Gmail

Every month or so I receive an e-mail from a fellow Gmail user asking for the link to my old post on how to get rid of the dreaded Inbox (863) or whatever three digit number is haunting you. As I work to muster the mojo to create new content again, here is that oldie but helpfulie.

How to Delete All Unread Messages in Gmail

And when I say all, I mean ALL. Every last one of those messages that you figured out from the subject you didn’t need to open.

Like those hundreds and thousands of breaking news alerts from The New York Times and The Washington Post that you’re meaning to get to but won’t, the Tory Burch sale alerts from Gilt that you don’t end up opening because you can’t afford the stuff anyways, especially those pesky email feed posts from A Parent in Silver Spring.

Maybe I’m a dummy and you guys with Gmail had already figured this out, but I found the instant deletion of 3894 unread emails so liberating after two years of deleting them in sets of 20. It felt so good to not have a huge number taunting me with my slacktitude that I decided to post here and risk looking extremely stupid. If I can help just one of you guys in an instantaneous declutter of your Inbox, my public humiliation shall not be in vain. (I guess that was a very petty ripping off of Dickinson. I clearly want to look as lame as possible.)

ANYWAYS, here’s how you do it:

In the Gmail search box on top of your messages, type is:unread . Then go to Select and click All. After you do this the first 20 unread messages will be highlighted. Then click the Delete button.

screenshot 1
Then a magical link of blue text will appear directly over your messages that says Select all conversations that match this search. Click it.

A window will come up asking you if you’re sure. If you want to get rid of every piece of spam that made it to your Inbox or other item you never opened and now is obsolete, you’re sure.

screen shot 2

Now, all that remains are items that you *did* open and now need to keep forever. You know, like stuff you need to keep to access later, stuff in your Sent folder you can passive aggressively forward to prove that you already met your deadline or those priceless drunk emails from friends that must be saved for blackmail.But from the unopened, you are free.
You’re welcome.
Your Friendly Luddite Momblogger


  1. Katherine Sbaiti says

    Thank you so much for the easy steps! I did a google search and your blog was the easiest to follow. That crazy number will no longer haunt me and I can actually find my emails now. Thanks!

  2. Thanks so much for posting this and leaving it as a resource on the internet — so liberating to be free of those unread messages. And my hubby thanks you too!!!

  3. Thanks! Although now I feel this weird regret, like I lopped off a few thousand useless moles and now don’t recognize myself in the mirror.

  4. Thanks you so much for this invaluable selective advice,, all other advice I had seen was mess indiscriminate removal

    Many thNKS

  5. THANK YOU! I just liberated myself of 16.5K unread emails!!! You made my day with your very helpful, simple directions.

  6. Awesome! Thank you so much. Just deleted a ton of emails in a few seconds!

  7. Genius! Thank you!

  8. This. Was. Life-changing.

  9. Mark David says

    Thanks Jessica. Very helpful.

  10. Thanks a lot Jessica. Saved my day 🙂

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