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I've got an older Macbook with a 256 GB HDD drive, running 10.12.6 (Sierra), with Mail 10.3.

It looks like a huge amount of storage (roughly 56 GB worth!) is being taken up by old Mail attachments — mostly attachments to sent messages, not received messages.

Where are these stored, and what is the easiest way to remove them? I've found a lot of reference articles online about deleting the contents of the Mail Downloads folder, but I don't know if that's what I'm looking for, as these are not attachments I received, but rather ones I sent. I don't want to delete the entire message -- I really want to keep a record of what I sent, to whom, and when.

And if possible I'd like to keep the attachments on the server (it's a Gmail account) so that I can retrieve them if need be. What are my options?

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  • In general, I would recommend DaisyDisk. It's really good for finding files and folders that are taking up a lot of space. You should be able to use the trial to do just about everything the paid app does, except collect and remove files through the app. You can right click a folder/file in the trial then: "Show in Finder" and from there you can trash it. The main point of the app is that it lists the files/folders taking up the most space in the current folder (root). Then you can click folders in that list to drill down to see what's taking up the most space there
    – Joonas
    May 8, 2020 at 6:51

1 Answer 1

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This will work only on IMAP accounts. Not POP3

  • Quit Mail.

    /Users/<>/Library/Mail/V6 
    
  • Navigate there in Finder after turning on hidden files using command+shift+..

  • Then search that folder for kind:PDF or kind:Image or anything that you think is taking up space.

  • Delete all those search results. Verify that the folder is taking less space, or alternatively check "About This Mac.app" → Storage → Manage → Trash to see that you've actually saved some space. Empty trash.

  • Open Mail Preferences → Accounts → Select your account. Under Account Information, set download attachments to None.

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  • Our Library / Mail path has a .../V2 and a.../V4, but no /V6. Can you confirm that the attachments will still be in my "Sent" messages on the IMAP server?
    – mweiss
    May 8, 2020 at 13:47
  • @mweiss Vx depends on macOS version. I've deleted attachments many times all my accounts are IMAP. You can delete one, open mail, open that attachment via mail and see that it'll download.
    – anki
    May 8, 2020 at 14:11

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