In looking to make some room on my MacBook Pro's Hard drive, I ran the excellent Disk Inventory X

As I expected, movies, my Aperture Archive and other media-intensive files took up a ton of my space. But I was surprised to find that files that Disk Inventory X categorized as "Mail Message" took up a whopping 22 GB.

I mostly use Apple Mail as my email client, although I've been giving Sparrow another try lately. But in either case, other than a legacy MobileMe account that I never use, Gmail is my mail provider (and storage facility).

What the heck is stored locally in that size, and can I safely delete it somehow?

(I can't fathom it matters, but I'm running Lion.)

2 Answers 2


Mail is caching your Gmail contents and this is normal for IMAP. See this SuperUser question and answers for possible solutions and implications regarding SpotLight search through emails:

  • Disable all message caching
  • Disable attachment caching
  • sincere thanks - I read the SU question, but are my only options really A) disable local storage, or B) store everything I've ever gotten, at 22GB and counting. (Yes, I see that I can save without attachments, but that only partially addresses the issue.) It seems odd that I can't wither clear it, and save local going forward, or set it to locally save the most recent XX messages, or up to YY days.
    – Jaydles
    Mar 22, 2012 at 20:49

I'm thinking it's probably messages, attachments, indexes, and logs. If you clean them out, you could just try using the online Gmail if it happens again. Otherwise, there's probably a setting for Mail that allows you to choose how many messages to store, and whether to download attachments. (I'm not at my Mac right now)

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