I have the macOS Mail app set up with my Google Gmail account using the IMAP integration. I have over 50,000 emails in my Gmail account, and the Mail application is starting to get a bit slow. For example, it takes several seconds to be able to open an email.

What are my options? I want to continue using macOS Mail, but I don't necessarily need access to all historical messages because I can log into the Gmail website for that.

I'm using Mail Version 13.4 (3608. on macOS Catalina 10.15.4 (19E287).

  • I'd start with deleting all attachments (from ~/Library/Mail) & setting it such that only recent attachments are downloaded/ or none (it means on demand). Next, remove non-useful rules.
    – anki
    Commented May 26, 2020 at 17:00
  • @ankii How do I delete attachments from ~/Library/Mail? I don't see any files or folders in there named something like "attachments".
    – Nic
    Commented May 26, 2020 at 17:28
  • apple.stackexchange.com/questions/390592/…
    – anki
    Commented May 26, 2020 at 17:41
  • I wonder if a "simple" rebuild on the mailboxes would do it? support.apple.com/guide/mail/rebuild-mailboxes-mlhlp1227/mac. When I had some issues with some messages not displaying I did this and it worked. I also set that menu item to have a keystroke equivalent in System Preferences to make it easier. Commented May 26, 2020 at 19:48
  • @SteveChambers if the settings are of downloading all attachments, then it won't help (I'm assuming you're replying to mine & Nic's convo )
    – anki
    Commented May 27, 2020 at 17:29

2 Answers 2


I would start by deleting the account and then recreating it. However, before you do, make sure you set the "Download Attachments" option in the Account Settings

You have three options:

  • All - automatically downloads all attachments
  • Recent - mail from the past 15 months.
  • None - you have to manually download attachments.

So, as you're recreating your GMail account, select "Recent" or "None." Then, as it synchronizes with your email account, it will only download the attachments that fit those rules.

Account Information Tab


If you only need the recent mail, you can limit how many emails gmail will serve via imap within the forwarding settings in gmail.

You should then "rebuild" your Mail.app inbox to remove cached messages.

  • That seems like it would be useful if I had enabled that in the first place, but it won't remove any locally cached messages from the Mail app will it?
    – Nic
    Commented May 27, 2020 at 16:43
  • Added a recommendation to rebuild following the change
    – JBallin
    Commented May 27, 2020 at 16:56

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