Freeing up storage space on your Google account: the best guide – ABOUT MAG 2020

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Google accounts now use a shared storage pool. Each account receives 15 GB of free space, shared on Gmail, Google Drive and Google+ Photos. But certain types of files do not count towards your storage quota.

Fortunately, the shared storage pool means that there is now no point in using hacks that allow you to store personal files in Gmail. Now you can take advantage of all your space in Gmail for files and photos.

Get an overview

You can view the overall available storage space for your Google account at Google Drive storage site.

This site shows exactly how much space is being used by each Google service – Gmail, Google Drive and Google+ Photos. The overview will give you an idea of ​​what service you need to look for to start freeing up space.

 overview of using google account storage

Trim your Gmail storage

Almost everything in your Gmail account consumes space. Email attachments can be a big culprit, but the stored email messages themselves also take up space. Email messages without attachments are just pieces of text and don’t take up much space individually – but if you have thousands upon thousands of emails, they can add a notable amount of space.

RELATED: How to free up space in Gmail: 5 ways to reclaim space

Gmail itself doesn’t help free up space. In fact, there is no way to see how much space a message takes up in Gmail. We cover several ways to free up space in Gmail, from searching emails with attachments to using an IMAP client like Thunderbird, which will display exactly how much storage space each email occupies in Gmail.

(Update: Gmail allows you to search for messages by size. For example, connect Size: 5m in the Gmail search box and you’ll see all emails that are 5MB or larger. However, you will still need a program like Thunderbird to see the size of each email segment and sort by size.)

Remember, emails in your trash still take up space. Gmail automatically deletes emails from the trash after 30 days, but you want to empty it immediately if you need space right now.

Convert files to Google Docs

Google Drive it’s two things. First, it’s the new location where all of your Google Docs document files are stored. Second, it is a file storage unit similar to Dropbox in the cloud. Here’s what this means for your storage quota:

  • Files in Google Docs format – documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings and forms – do not take up storage space. You are free to have all the Google Docs files you want.
  • Other files – from PDFs and images to any other file type other than Google Docs, including Microsoft Word documents – will take up storage space on Google Drive.

If you have documents in Microsoft Office or OpenOffice format, you can convert them to Google Docs files to save space. To do this, just right-click the document in Google Drive, point to Open with and select the Google Docs application. Google Docs will create a new copy of this file in Google Docs format, allowing you to delete the original file.

You can also enable the “Convert uploaded files to Google Docs format” option in the upload dialog to automatically convert new documents. Note that you may lose some advanced formatting if you do this.

 save- space-on-google-drive

Sort Google Drive files by size

To find the files that consume the most space on your Google Drive, click the All items option in the sidebar, click the Sort button and select Quota used. Google Drive sorts your files by the amount of space they consume, allowing you to delete the largest ones you don’t want.

Note that deleted files will continue to take up space until you empty your trash. Google will do this automatically every 30 days, but you want to empty it immediately if you need the space right now.

google-drive-sort by quota used

Shared files do not count towards your quota, so you are free to share large files with you. They count only for the owner’s share.

Delete previous versions of files

Google Drive stores previous versions of files and they can consume additional space. If you are editing a file, you may have earlier versions taking up your storage space.

To check previous versions, right-click a file and select Manage revisions. Click the X button to delete a previous version and free up space.

Please note that Google Drive automatically deletes these old versions every 30 days or when it reaches 100 previous versions. Therefore, there is no reason to delete yourself, unless you are desperate for more storage space at the moment. There is also no way to delete revisions of several files at once; therefore, it may take a while.

 google-drive-manage reviews

Keep in mind that previous versions of Google Docs files will not consume space. They do not count towards your quota.

Upload standard size photos

Google+ Photos – formerly known as Picasa Web Albums – offers unlimited storage space for photos below a certain resolution.

  • If you signed up for Google+, you can upload photos up to 2048 × 2048 pixels in size. Photos of this size or smaller will not consume any storage from your Google account
  • If you haven’t signed up for Google+, only 800 × 800 pixel sized photos are free.
  • Videos of up to 15 minutes can also be stored on Google+ photos without counting your storage quota, regardless of whether or not you’ve signed up for Google+.

To control what happens when you upload photos to Google+ Photos from the web, open your Google+ settings page, scroll down to Photos and make sure “Upload my full size photos” is checked. If this option is not checked, photos you upload through the browser will be automatically reduced and will not consume storage space. If you check this option, you will have larger photos archived online, but they will count towards your storage quota.

 google-plus-photos settings

RELATED: What data does Android automatically back up?

If you use the Google+ app on your Android phone and set it as automatically upload the photos you take to your Google+ account, you’ll find that it automatically uploads full-size photos by default, consuming storage space. If you prefer that the app reduce the photos to standard size first, so that they can be stored for free, open the Google+ app on your phone, go to Settings, tap Auto Backup and tap the Photo Size option. Select the photo size you prefer.

 select- automatic upload photo size

When you reach your maximum storage capacity, Google automatically converts photos to 2048 pixels before storing them in your Google+ photos.

Shrink existing photos and delete bad items

You can see the photos you are storing your Google+ photos and reduce photos larger than 2048 × 2048 so that they are not counted in your quota. Google doesn’t offer a very good way to do this online, but if you want to reduce your photos, you can always download all your Google+ photos, find the ones that are too big and reduce them. After deleting the originals from your Google+ photo albums, you can resend the reduced copies and store them for free.

You can also delete unnecessary photos – there is a good chance that you will have some bad photos if all the photos you take with your smartphone’s camera are sent automatically. By default, these photos will be taken at actual size and will consume storage space.

 delete- foto-no-google-plus

To spend money

If you don’t mind spending money, there are several ways to get additional storage space in your Google Account. “

RELATED: How to live with a Chromebook: can you survive with just a Chrome browser?

  • Buy a Chromebook: Google Chromebooks it currently comes with a promotion, offering a good deal of additional storage space for several years. The $ 249 Samsung Series 3 Chromebook offers an additional 100 GB of space for two years, which would cost $ 120. If you’re looking at a Chromebook anyway and want more storage, this can be a good deal.
  • Pay a monthly fee: You can also buy more storage space from Google. Google offers a variety of options, from 100 GB to $ 5 per month up to 16 TB to $ 800 per month.


At the moment, only files stored on these three Google services consume storage space. Videos you upload to YouTube, calendar events stored in Google Calendar, Android data synced to your Google account – none of that counts for your Google account storage quota.

Image credit: Carol Rucker on Flickr

Paula Fonseca