How to free up space on Google Drive – ABOUT MAG 2020


Sarah Jacobsson Purewal / CNET

Google offers 15 GB of free space on Google Drive, which seems like a good deal compared to the 2 GB of Dropbox and the 10 GB of Box. But there is a problem: this 15 GB limit includes not only Google Drive, but also yours Gmail account (messages and attachments) and Google Photos.

If you use Gmail as one of your top email accounts, you probably encounter this 15 GB limit more often than you would like. See how you can search for files, messages, attachments and media that take up valuable gigabytes and reclaim Google Drive space for yourself.

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Three ways to get more Google Drive storage for free


Step 1: Find the problem

To find out what takes up so much space on your Google Drive, visit the Google website Drive storage page. Here, you will see a pie chart that shows how much space you are taking up; mouse over the graph to see a division by platform.


Sarah Jacobsson Purewal / CNET

As you can see, most of my space on Google Drive is being taken up by messages and attachments from Gmail, although I also seem to have about 4 GB linked on Google Photos.

On this page, you can also see the total amount of storage you have (including the bonuses you have earned) and you can update your plan if you feel you need more space. Google Drive plans start at $ 2 a month for 100 GB or $ 20 a year and reach $ 300 a month for 30 TB.

Step 2: what counts towards your limit?

Not everything in your Google Drive counts towards your storage limit; therefore, do not indiscriminately delete files. Everything you create with Google Docs, Google Sheets, or Google Slides does not count towards your limit (nor does the Google Doc, Sheet, or Slide shared with you). Almost everything on Gmail counts, but only photos larger than 2,048×2,048 pixels and videos longer than 15 minutes on Google Photos count towards Drive storage limit.

Step 3: clean the drive

Open it Google Drive and take a look at My Drive. If you see a thumbnail grid instead of a list, click the icon List view in the upper right corner of the screen.


Sarah Jacobsson Purewal / CNET

You should now see your Google Drive files listed and sorted by name. Google used to allow you to easily sort your Drive files by size, but if you click on the Order In the upper right corner, you will see that your only sorting options are Name, Last modified, Last modified by me and Last opened by me.


Sarah Jacobsson Purewal / CNET

But you can still sort your files by size: in the bottom left corner of the screen, you’ll see the amount of storage space you’re using and a link that says Buy more storage. Hover your mouse over this area until a box with a breakdown of Drive storage appears. At the top of the list, you’ll see To drive – Click here.


Sarah Jacobsson Purewal / CNET

Your Drive folder will now be sorted by “Quota used” or file size, and you can start deleting larger files to free up space.


Sarah Jacobsson Purewal / CNET

If you have PDF files that you prefer not to delete, save them and free up space by converting them to Google Docs (or Spreadsheets or Slides, depending on the file). To do this, right-click on the PDF file, hover over Open withand choose Google documents in the drop-down menu.


Sarah Jacobsson Purewal / CNET

A new Google Document with the same name as your PDF file will open and you can delete the old PDF file.

After deleting files from your Drive, you’ll need to empty your Trash folder. Click trash, select the files you want to delete forever, right-click and click Erase forever. Until a file is deleted forever, it will continue to take up space on your Drive.

Step 4: Face your Google Photos

I hardly use Google. Why do I have 4 GB of photos in Google Photos? Because I take advantage of Android’s automatic photo backup service, which uploads all the photos I take on my Android phone to my full-size Google Photos account.

Unfortunately, you can’t actually search Google Photos by file size. Therefore, going over and getting rid of the storage pigs will require extra work. First, go to the Google Photos Page and click Photos to see all of your photos.

To delete photos, hover over them until a small checkbox appears in the upper left corner. Click on the checkbox and all your photos will get checkboxes. Mark all the photos you want to delete and click Delete to delete them.


Sarah Jacobsson Purewal / CNET

To prevent your Android phone from automatically uploading full-size photos, open the menu icon in the upper left corner and go to Settings> and select High Quality. High-quality photos will be smaller than the original resolution taken over the phone and therefore will not take up space on Drive.

Step 5: Clean up your Gmail

If you’ve made it this far, well, let’s be honest: your Gmail account is probably taking up most of the space on Google Drive. To rid your Gmail of large attachments and unwanted newsletters, check out our spring cleaning article on how to clean your Gmail. If you need help organizing your inbox to find old messages you no longer need to get attached to, check out these 10 tips for organizing your Gmail.

Paula Fonseca