Maybe you haven’t actually used Gmail for years. Maybe you want to take a stand against Google in general. Maybe you’re not sure why you created a Google account in the first place. Whatever your reason, Google makes it surprisingly easy for you to delete your account.
First: Download Your Google Emails and Other Data
Once you delete your account, it’s completely gone, and that includes all of the information you’ve stored on Google services. If you want to save your emails, your YouTube uploads, and everything else you’ve added to Google products over the years, you’ll have to back them up first.
Happily, Google offers a tool for doing this. Head to Google Takeout and you can download, en masse, all of your Google data. Your Gmail history, for example, is offered as an mbox download that you can open in an email program like Mozilla Thunderbird.
The process is straightforward, but there are a lot of choices. We’ve outlined how to use Google Takeout before, if you want more details. Alternatively, we outlined another way to back up your Gmail account before proceeding, so check that out if you’re not sure what to do with an mbox download.
Deleting Your Account: You Have Two Options
Head to Google’s official preferences page and you’ll see a couple of options: delete products, or Delete Google account and data.
The first option lets you delete specific services, including Gmail. Use this and you can delete all of your emails, along with your email address, but leave the rest of your Google account up and running. The second option deletes everything your Google account does, including YouTube and Google Drive, and all the documents you’ve uploaded to those services.
Here’s how both of these options work, with screenshots for every step of the way.
Delete Only Your Gmail Account
The first option, “delete products,” gives you a list of Google services you use, and a trash can you can click to delete any of them.
To delete your Gmail account, click the trash can next to Gmail.
According to Google, deleting your Gmail account means:
- Your Gmail address can’t be used by you or anyone else in the future.
- Your emails will be deleted.
- Your Google Account, including purchases made on Google Play and your search history, won’t be deleted.
When you click the trash can next to Gmail, you’ll be told to add another email address here, which you will use to access your other Google services (Google Drive, YouTube, etc).
Enter your current primary email address (not the address you’re deleting) then click “Send Verification Email.” An email will be sent to that account, and it will look something like this:
Go ahead and click the link. You’ll be taken to yet another page, where you can confirm one more time that this is what you want to do.
This is your last warning, so be absolutely certain that everything is backed up before you click the checkbox and click “Delete Account.”
Once you do that, you’ve officially deleted your Gmail account. You can still log into your Google account to access things like YouTube, but you’ll need to use the new email address you provided earlier.
Delete Your Entire Google Account
If deleting your Gmail account isn’t enough, you can also delete your entire Google account. We recommend you download and archive all of your Google data before doing so. This includes your emails, your contacts, your documents on Google Drive, and even your YouTube uploads.
The process of deleting your entire Google account is actually simpler than just deleting your Gmail. First you’ll be asked to confirm that this is what you actually want to do. Be absolutely certain this is the case before you check the boxes and click “Delete Account”, because all of your data will go away when you’re done.
Next, you’ll be told that your account is deleted.
That’s it. You have a very short window to potentially recover your account, but be quick about it. Really, it’s best that you don’t start this process until you’re completely certain you’ve backed everything up and have no further use for the account.