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.

1 Answer 1


You can find Mail's cached mails in


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. Jun 2, 2016 at 18:40

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