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How can I delete all cached/offline email from the Mac OS 'Mail' program on my SSD in Mac OS El Capitan? I have 2 Gmail accounts and an Exchange account for work. I'm running out of room on my 256GB SSD, so I need to clear out any/all data that I can.

I also want to ensure no new mail get stored locally. Basically, I just want the mail accounts to sync to the IMAP/Exchange email servers via the internet and never rely on any local storage. This is a hardwired Mac Mini, so it's never offline. Thanks.

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You can find Mail's cached mails in

~/Library/Mail

To see how much space this folder is using, either use Finder's Get Info or

du -hs ~/Library/Mail

To remove the folder and all its contents, either use Finder or

rm -rf ~/Library/Mail

AFAIK, I don't think you can stop Mail from caching received emails from your servers. There used to be an option in Mail preferences that would stop it from caching everything, but I think this was taken out in Mavericks.

With Mail's behavior as such, it is logical to assume that once these mails are deleted, Mail will re-sync with the necessary servers to cache these mails again.

You might be able to change some things in Mail's preferences, I'll check and edit appropriately.

There's a pretty good guide on Mail and its storage usage over at HowToGeek right here.

  • Thanks very much. I checked the 'Mail' folder size and it's actually only 4.5 GB's, so not such a huge concern. I believe you are right about the feature of "online sync only" was indeed removed in Mavericks. I'm certain it used to be there years ago. Thanks again. – SamAndrew81 Jun 2 '16 at 18:40

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