How to Delete Your Gmail Account (For Good)

Although Gmail is a highly popular app, allowing you to send and receive email messages from any device, you may eventually want to know how to delete a Gmail account. Although this seems like it should be an easy process, it does have a few challenges.

If you do not do this correctly, the data and messages from your Gmail account may still be floating around, perhaps leaving information susceptible to someone stealing it or viewing it.

The good news is that you do not have to completely delete your Google account to remove Gmail. So if you still want to use other services that Google offers, you’ll have that option, even after you give up on Gmail.

Here are the steps you should follow for how to delete Gmail account messages and settings. We’ll start with discussing the steps required to delete Gmail from a computer before adding instructions for mobile devices.

Step 1: Deleting Gmail From a Computer — Open the Google Account Window

You’ll need to make some changes to your Google account to delete your Gmail account.

In the Gmail window, click on the Google Apps icon in the upper right corner (which is the 3×3 grid of dots). Then click on Account, which should be in the upper left corner of the popup window. (The Account icon may be a picture of you or of an icon you have selected.)

Step 2: Open the Data & Personalization Window

Next, click on the Data & Personalization text on the left side of the window.

Scroll down toward the bottom of the Data & Personalization window until you see the Download, Delete, or Make a Plan for Your Data section of the window.

Step 3: Prepare to Delete Gmail

In the Download, Delete, or Make a Plan for Your Data section of the window, click on Delete a Service or Your Account.

In the new window, in the Delete a Google Service section, click on the Delete a Service text.

Step 4: Download a Backup Copy of Your Data

Next, you’ll need to sign in to your Google account, verifying that you actually want to take this step.

After verification, you’ll see the Delete a Google Service window. You should see the Google services to which you have current subscriptions in the middle of the window, including Gmail.

Before you complete the deletion of Gmail, you may want to download a copy of the data inside your Gmail account.

Downloading Your Gmail Data

Click on Download Data in the middle of the Delete a Google Service window. This opens the Google Takeout window. You’ll see all of the data you have that is part of your Google account, sorted by service.

If you only want to download your Gmail data, click on Deselect All at the top of the Google Takeout window to remove the checkmarks from all of the Google services listed in the window.

Then scroll down until you see Mail. (The different sections are in alphabetical order.) Click on the box next to Mail to place a checkmark in it. Then scroll to the bottom of the Google Takeout window and click on the Next Step button.

You can pick the way in which you want to download the Gmail data, including the type of file to which you’ll save the data. Then click the Create Export button to begin the process.

Types of Data You Can Download

After downloading, you may be able to copy some of your Gmail data into another email client, although there is no guarantee this will happen successfully. The other email client may not be able to read the Gmail downloaded data file, meaning it cannot recreate the messages for you.

At a minimum, you can use your downloaded Gmail data as an archive, so you can go back and see old messages if needed. Some of the primary types of data that appear as part of this archive download include:

  • Content of messages
  • Headers of messages
  • Attachment files

Additionally, the various message labels will be part of the data download. For most people, these aren’t quite as important as the messages themselves, but you may find some of these labels helpful, which include labels of messages that were:

  • Unread
  • Starred
  • Drafts
  • Marked as Important
  • Placed in Trash
  • Placed in Spam
  • Archived

Step 5: Finalizing How to Delete Gmail Account

After you’ve downloaded your Gmail data (or if you chose not to download the data), you’re now ready to delete Gmail. Click on the trash can icon to the right of the Gmail listing. Then follow the final verification steps to delete the account.

How to Delete Your Gmail Account on Android

When deleting Gmail from an Android mobile device, you’ll follow a similar series of steps to what we spelled out for deleting Gmail from a computer.

Step 1: Open Settings

Open the Settings app on your Android device. Scroll down the list of settings until you see Google, which will contain the various Google services that you use on your mobile device. Look for Google Account and tap on it.

Step 2: Prepare to Delete Gmail

Next, tap on Data & Personalization, which should be available under the top menu of the screen. Scroll downward until you can see the Download, Delete, or Make a Plan for Your Data section. Inside this section, click on Delete a Service or Your Account.

Step 3: Delete Your Gmail Account

On the next screen, click on Delete a Google Service. You probably will have to sign in to your Google account, verifying that you want to take this step.

You’ll then see a screen that contains all of your Google services. Scroll down until you see the Gmail entry. Tap on the trash can icon. Android will ask you to verify the selection. Once you do, Android will delete Gmail from your mobile device.

How to Delete Your Gmail Account on iOS

The steps for deleting your Gmail account on an iOS mobile device will depend in part on how you use Gmail on the device.

Gmail in a Web Browser

If you are managing your Gmail account through a web browser on your iOS device, you will want to follow the instructions we listed earlier for deleting Gmail from a computer.

Using the Gmail App

If you manage your Gmail account through the Gmail app that you’ve downloaded to your iOS device, you can use the following steps to delete your Gmail account.

From inside the Gmail app, tap on the menu and select Settings. Then select your account name, followed by Manage Your Google Account.

Tap on Data & Personalization in the next screen. Scroll down until you see Download, Delete, or Make a Plan for Your Data. Then tap on Delete a Service or Your Account, followed by Delete a Service.

You may need to sign in to your Google account, verifying that you want to take the next step. On the next screen, scroll down until you see Gmail. Tap on Delete to start the process of deleting a Gmail account. Google may require that you verify your selection before it deletes Gmail permanently.

What Happens After You Delete Your Gmail Account?

When you have made the decision about how to delete a Gmail account, you may be wondering what will happen to your data. Here are some of the key things to understand regarding what happens when you delete Gmail.

  • Settings: Any email settings that were specific to your Gmail account will no longer exist.
  • Gmail Address: You’ll no longer have the ability to send or receive messages with your Gmail address. No one else can take over this Gmail address either. This means that if you change your mind, you may be able to restore your Gmail address at a later date by opening the Gmail window and entering the requested data. (Restoring your Gmail address does not mean you can recover your messages, however.)
  • Other Google Services: Any other services you have through your Google account will remain available for you to use. Deleting Gmail will not affect these other services.

If you downloaded the data from your Gmail account before deleting it (as we described in Step 4 above), you will have a copy of your data stored on your local hard drive. But your Google account will no longer have a copy of this data in the cloud.

Deleting Gmail Messages Only

If you do not want to delete your Gmail account completely, but you just want to delete all of the Gmail messages you have received, you can do this, keeping your account active.

In the Gmail window, click the box near the upper left corner of the window. You should see check marks appear in all of the boxes on the page. If you have multiple pages of messages, you should see a text message appear in the middle of the top of the window, asking if you want to select all messages on all pages. Click on this text to select every message.

Now click the trash can icon at the top of the window. Verify your selection, and Gmail will delete all of the messages.

You may have to repeat this action for all of the tabs Gmail uses to sort your messages, such as Primary, Social, and Promotions.

Emptying the Trash

Gmail keeps all of your deleted messages for up to 30 days. If you want to delete them immediately, scroll down the list on the left side of the window until you see Trash. (You may have to click on More to see Trash.)

In the Trash window, click on the Empty Trash now text link at the upper right corner of the window. Confirm the immediate deletion, and Gmail will remove the messages. (Once you empty the trash, you cannot retrieve the messages.)

Do You Have to Remove Gmail From Your Computer?

If you have followed the steps we listed above, you will have deleted the information regarding your Gmail account from your computer and from your overall Google account. You do not need to take any other steps.

Because Gmail on the computer only works through a web browser, it is not a piece of software that you have downloaded to your computer’s hard drive. Instead, Gmail only exists as an app that runs from the cloud. This means no software sits on your hard drive, so you do not have any data to delete or any software to uninstall regarding the Gmail app itself.

If you click on the Gmail app from your Google account after you have deleted Gmail, it may ask you whether you want to sign up to use the Gmail app. You then may be able to restore your old Gmail address (but not the old messages).

One final note: If you make use of Gmail through a work group, through a school account, or through another organization, you may have to contract the group administrator to delete your Gmail data fully.

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Bryan Wise
Bryan Wise,
Former VP of IT at GitLab

Incredible companies use Nira