Moved many emails to Outlook external folder, need to delete on Gmail server

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James Snell

Outlook version
Outlook 2016 32 bit
Email Account
I’m using Gmail through Outlook with IMAP. My Gmail account is nearly full. I need to delete many emails from the Gmail server, but still keep them on my computer.

I started by moving a large set of emails from my Outlook inbox to an Outlook external folder (data file). Now I need to delete them on the Gmail server. There are too many to delete individually (about 100,000), so I'll need to delete them as a group. In Outlook they're all together in the external folder, but on the Gmail website they're not together in any way, they're scattered through All Mail, and they have no common attribute to search for.

I tried flagging them in the Outlook external folder, hoping the flags would be reflected as starred on the Gmail website, allowing me to delete them as a group. But the flagged emails in the Outlook external folder didn’t become starred on the Gmail website. (Apparently only emails in Outlook's inbox, when flagged, are mirrored as starred on the Gmail website.)

I've looked for some way to give an attribute to the emails in the Outlook external folder, so that I could use Gmail's search to find only these emails, and then select and delete them. So far I haven't found a way to do this.

Many Gmail users who use Outlook with IMAP will eventually need to delete emails in bulk from the Gmail server, while keeping them on their computer. Surely there’s a way to do this. Many thanks to anyone with a solution!
Many Gmail users who use Outlook with IMAP will eventually need to delete emails in bulk from the Gmail server, while keeping them on their computer. Surely there’s a way to do this.

I'll answer this first, since it is straightforward.
When you transfer your unwanted emails from the Gmail inbox to the newly created data file, you should MOVE them, not copy them. Then they are gone from the Gmail inbox.

As far as your problem now, I am just throwing out an idea that may not be fully baked yet.
Suppose you were to take the 100,000 emails in the data file, make a COPY of them all, move those copies back into the Gmail Inbox. Then you would have duplicates of all the unwanted emails in the Gmail Inbox. Then use a Duplicate File Finder, either an Outlook plug in or in the Gmail web interface, and remove both copies of each of the duplicate emails. (It's just a way to artificially "tag" the emails you want to get rid of. The tag is they are duplicates)
But if you are at your gmail account size limit, this would not work. You might have to chunk it down, do a few hundred at a time. In any case, i would try this on just a few emails first to see if it even works.
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Thanks, Vincenzo. Re: "When you transfer your unwanted emails from the Gmail inbox to the newly created data file, you should MOVE them, not copy them. Then they are gone from the Gmail inbox." I did indeed move (not copy) them, and as you said, they're gone from the Gmail inbox. But they're still in the All Mail list, mixed in with those I want to keep. The problem is finding a way to somehow separate or mark the unwanted ones in order to delete only them.

I tried several experiments like what you suggested, which resulted in duplicates of the unwanted emails in All Mail. If there's a Duplicate File Finder in the Gmail web interface, that would be a solution, but I haven't found this. Can you tell me where to find it?
I don't have an All Mail list in my Outlook 2016. Is that something you configured?
Because in Outlook I MOVED them from the inbox to the external folder, just as you suggested, so they're no longer in the inbox!

The purpose of the All Mail list in Gmail is to let the user see exactly that - all the emails that are on the server, regardless of category, and are counted in calculating the total space used.
I think I am catching on now. So your goal is to get them out of All Mail, so they no longer count toward your total space used?
I have a Gmail account but I rarely use it, so this concept of All Mail is new to me.
I am playing with it now, and it's behavior is somewhat unexpected.
I think am reading through and trying to understand this page, which I think may hold a clue to your problem.
I suspect those 100,000 messages are sitting somewhere unexpected, and I thought they might be in Trash. But my tests show that Trash items are not shown in All Mail.
Have you tried looking in all the Labels that are listed on the left side of Gmail?
Also take a look in Manage Labels, to see if there is a label that is "hidden" that may be holding those emails.
If you have a Gmail account and use Outlook with IMAP, here is how to keep your wanted emails on your computer but delete them from the Gmail server.

First, in Outlook, create whatever external folders you want, with appropriate names, for keeping the wanted emails. Then move (rather than copy) the wanted emails from your Outlook Inbox and/or Sent Mail folders to the external folders. Also, if the Outlook folder pane lists any folders under your Gmail account (these are not external folders), move any wanted emails from them to external folders. Emails in Outlook's external folders are safe from deletion in Gmail (even though Gmail lists them in its All Mail list); however, deletion in Gmail DOES delete emails in folders listed under your Gmail account in Outlook's folder pane.

Now repeat the following steps as many times as needed: [Comments in square brackets concern usability design defects in Gmail.]

1. On the Gmail website, scroll to the bottom of the mail list and note amount of server space used. [Scrolling should not be needed to view this important info.]
2. Scroll down the left navigation pane, click "More", scroll down again, and click "All Mail". [This scrolling should not be needed.]
3. With All Mail displayed, enter the following string in the search box: "-in:inbox -in:sent" (without the quotes). [Incredibly, no title is displayed above the list, "All Mail" in this case. And a reference list of the search operators should be easy to find near the search bar, but isn't.]
4. Click the Search icon (magnifier) or press the Enter key. [The last number of "1-100 of..." may be wrong; this is a coding bug, not a UI design bug.]
5. Click the Select icon (checkbox), or click the down-arrow next to the icon, and in the dropdown click "All". [The Select icon should have a tooltip.]
6. Click the link "Select all messages that match this search" ["All" in the dropdown is ambiguous, and this link resolves the ambiguity. The dropdown should have both options: "All search matches" and "Only the matches listed on this page".]
7. Click the Delete button and click "OK" in the "Confirm Bulk Action" dialog box.
8. Wait for the yellow box with "Loading..." at the top to disappear, and the black box with "All conversations moved to Trash" to appear briefly at the bottom. [There's a limit of 15,000 emails, which can unpredictably increase to 20,000 or 35,000. The limit forces the user to do this process repeatedly if there are more. The UI should provide a way for the user to specify the limit, or no limit.]
9. In the left nav, click "Trash". (Now the "1-100 of..." label will be accurate.)
10. If no messages are displayed, click "Refresh" at the top. [This should not ever be necessary.]
11. Click "Empty Trash now" and click "OK" in the "Confirm Deleting Messages" dialog.
12. Wait for the "Deleting Messages" dialog box to close.
13. Click the browser's (not Gmail's) Refresh icon, scroll to the bottom of the mail list, and note the amount of server space used. [This info should update automatically.]

Notice the absurdity of this process. And I could write a lengthy article on the myriad user interface design defects I've encountered in Gmail.
If you want to delete your Gmail account, then backing up all the emails with attachments is necessary or you can import all Gmail emails to Outlook. This can be done by using a third-party tool which directly imports or back up all Gmail Emails. There are many tool available in market, you can choose any of them which will be suitable to you.
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