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Email Quota: Inbox Reduction

Keeping your inbox down to a reasonable size requires some attention and planning. These tips will help you to reduce the volume on a daily basis.

Checking your Quota

If you get close to your quota for email use we’ll send you an email. As you work on reducing the amount of email to get under quota, it’s helpful to be able to check how you’re doing. You can find your quota usage in one of two ways:

  • Going to, logging in and looking near the top of the page.
  • In Thunderbird, select your inbox in the panel on the right, and then select “Edit→Folder Properties…” Click on “Quota.”

Empty your Email Trash

As much as 30% of our email usage on campus is email sitting in the trash, waiting to be emptied. Empty the trash, and then check to see how you’re doing on your quota.

Compact Folders

When you delete a message in Thunderbird it doesn’t actually free up any space until the folders are “compacted.” You can set Thunderbird to compact the folders automatically:

  1. In Thunderbird select Tools→Options (PC) or Thunderbird→Preferences (Mac).
  2. Select “Advanced.”
  3. Click on “Network and Disk Space.”
  4. Check the “Compact folders when it will save over” box, and leave it at the default settings.

You can also manually compact folders by clicking on your inbox and selecting “File→Compact Folders.”

Empty out the Junk Mail Folder

If you have a Junk folder in your email, don’t forget to empty it occasionally:

  • In Thunderbird, select the Junk folder and click on “Tools→Delete Mail Marked as Junk in Folder.”
  • In Webmail, navigate to your Junk folder, select all, and delete.

Empty the trash after this.

Use Local Folders in Thunderbird

In Thunderbird you have the option of storing messages in “Local Folders.” This puts the messages on your computer rather than having them up on the server, where they use up your quota. Keep in mind that Local Folders are not accessible from any computer other than the one they’re stored on, but this is often an ideal place to store old emails that you’re not quite ready to let go of.

If you’ve got years worth of messages, we suggest creating one folder for each year’s mail.

To create and use local folders in Thunderbird:

  1. Select “File→New→Folder”, enter a folder name, and make it a subfolder of “Local Folders.”
  2. Select the messages in your inbox that you want to move. You can select the first message to move message, then scroll to the last message to move, and shift-click to select everything in beteween.
  3. Select “Message→Move To”, and then select the local folder you just created.

Repeat this process for each batch of messages you’re offloading to local storage.

Sort your Email by Size

One mistake that many people make when trying to slim down their email is to start randomly deleting messages, usually starting with the oldest messages. After deleting a slew of messages, they find themselves still over quota, and don't understand what's happening. What we find is that going over quota is often related to a few large email messages, usually ones with large attachments. And, of course, if you very recently went over quota, chances are it's because one of these big messages just recently came your way. Simple solution? Order your email by size:

  1. Click in the "Size" header of your inbox or sent mail. If you don’t see a “Size” header in Thunderbird you can show it by clicking on the tiny icon to the right of the column headers that lets you select columns to show.
  2. Scroll to the end of the list that has the largest items.
  3. Save the attachments to disk if you need them, then delete the message. In Thunderbird, there is the option of detaching the attachment (saving it to your hard drive), and keeping only the message part in Thunderbird; to do this, use File→Attachments→Detach...

Don’t Forget About your Sent Mail Folder

Don’t forget that email that you send is kept in a sent folder, and that it contributes to your quota usage. The above tips can be used on your sent mail, too.

Errors When you Try to Delete?

If you are trying to delete email and the system either doesn't delete it or tells you there's not enough disk space to delete it, it's often because your options for deleting specify that it should be moved into trash: the system is trying to copy your files into the trash folder, but of course you're already over quota so it's getting an error. The solution? Instead of moving things to trash, mark them as deleted and then purge them:

  1. If you're in an email client such as Thunderbird or Apple Mail, exit the program.
  2. In your browser, go to
  3. Sign in.
  4. Select "Options"," and then "Deleting and Moving Messages."
  5. Un-check "When deleting messages, move them to your Trash folder instead of marking them as deleted?"
  6. Save Options, and then return to your Inbox or Sent Mail folder.
  7. Now check any messages you want to delete (remember to order by Size for the most effective results).
  8. From the Mark As: menu, select "Deleted."
  9. When you're ready, click on "Purge Deleted" over on the right side of the screen.

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Information Technology
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Hampshire College
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002
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