I am running out of some disk space, and noticed Mail has about 30GB of emails stored.

What is the best way to delete these emails? I don't need them as a server has a copy.


Go to Mail -> Preferences -> Accounts

  1. Choose the mail account
  2. Choose the advanced tab
  3. Change the status of "Keep Copies of message for offline viewing" to "Don't keep..."

Apples's documentation does not say what happens when you change the status, but goes on to state:

It’s recommended to use the default selection (“All messages and their attachments”) so you can search entire messages. Additionally, keeping copies of messages on your computer improves junk mail filtering and includes the messages in Time Machine backups.

  • Will that delete already downloaded mail messages for that account, or just for future mail coming in? Jul 1 '12 at 1:43
  • 1
    @Sheehan I have around 100k mails stored on disk and when I change the option the Mail program freezes and stop to respond while it eats 100% of CPU ... so I think it is deleting already downloaded messages. Nov 17 '12 at 15:04
  • I just want to confirm that the steps outlined by Mark (changing the status to "Don't keep...") does delete the retroactive temporary files that Mail.app used for your e-mails. You can confirm this by browsing to ~/Library/Mail/V2. Before I changed the status, this directory was just over 5 gigabytes. Afterward, it is now 37.2 MB. Also, since they are temp files, they do not go to trash. May 2 '13 at 16:16
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    This doesn't seem to work on Mavericks. There is no "Keep Copies of message for offline viewing" option. Dec 11 '13 at 16:08

Same thing happened to me. I went to ~/Library/Mail/V2 and deleted everything (actually copied to up to My Documents for later import). That let me open Mail.app. I then deleted the exchange account and create it again.

  • I feel that this is a much better answer. As @nicholaides has mentioned in the other answer's reply section, that checkbox doesn't even exist anymore in the latest versions of mac osx
    – danielpops
    Mar 4 '16 at 19:22

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