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An Easy Way to Clean Up Your Mail App Inbox–And Speed Up Your Mac

Here’s a quick fix you can try right now to speed up your Mac computer. Just clean out your inbox. It’s an easy way to cure sluggishness in the Apple Mail application in OSX.

Having too many emails in the inbox can be really overwhelming, for you and for your computer. If you’re using the Apple Mail program to manage your email accounts, it’s important to make sure that you don’t let emails pile up in the Inbox section. Mail isn’t designed to keep a lot of emails in the Inbox for the long term. Even if you have enough space on the computer to store thousands and thousands of messages, like we do, it will slow down the Mail program if they’re all stored in the inbox. Plus, it’s nice to clean out the inbox from time to time for your own productivity. Personally, I love having a clean slate!

But what if you don’t have the time to go through all of your messages? What if you delete something that ends up being important later? Here’s a little secret: you can have the benefits of a clean inbox without having to do any organizing at all. As long as those emails aren’t stored in the official inbox, they won’t cause problems for Mail. You can just move all your messages to a new folder. I call mine “Old Messages” but you could use “Archive” “Important Emails” “Old Inbox Emails” or whatever you like.

Here’s how to Archive Old Emails:

Mail window with mailboxes highlighted at the top left

A pre-step to this process is to make sure you have your mailboxes showing in Mail. To show your mailboxes, just click “Mailboxes” as highlighted below.

Mailbox menu item with New Mailbox highlighted
selecting the location of the mailbox from the dropdown
name your mailbox dialog

1) Now that mailboxes are showing, let’s say you want to move all your read emails to a folder called “Archive”. First you would make the folder by going to “Mailbox” and then selecting “Make New Mailbox” and naming that new folder. A consideration is whether you would like to have the messages stored on your server (so they are accessible to all your devices), or if you would rather have the messages stored just on your computer or “On My Mac”. I usually recommend storing them on the server so you have access with all your devices.

edit, select all dialog box

2) Once the folder “Archive” appears on the left, you want to select all the emails you want to move. An easy way to select multiple messages is to hold down the command key while selecting them. If you want to select ALL of the messages in your inbox, you can do that by pressing Command and A at the same time, or by going to Edit and clicking “Select All”.

Drag and drop emails to box

3) Once you’ve selected the emails you want to move you can drag and drop them into the new folder, or go to Message and click Move To and then click “Old Messages” (or whatever your folder is named).

Showing inbox with no messages in it

4) If you’re moving a lot of emails at once, it might take a while. It’s a good idea to give the computer plenty of time to move them over. Maybe close out of other programs while you’re doing this, and wait a few minutes before clicking anything else.


Now that you’ve achieved Inbox Zero, it will be much easier to deal with new messages as they come in. Once you’ve read or responded to them, just move them to your Old Messages folder. You can add more folders/Mailboxes to organize your emails even more if you want. I like to just use the handy search bar up at the top of the screen to find any old emails I might need. All my emails are stored if I ever need them, but they’re not cluttering up my screen. With the Inbox cleared out, my Mac also runs better–no more pinwheeling and crashes when I try to open the Mail App.

Try it and let us know how it goes!