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Select and Delete Multiple Messages in Gmail

Does Gmail have a "select all" tool for messages you've labeled or filtered? It does -- and here's how to use it.

Reader Bill wrote in with this question:

"When I click on a certain category of e-mails in Gmail I get nine visible entries. I can delete them one at a time but I would like to delete them all at once. How can this be done?"

When you say "a certain category of e-mails," Bill, I'm assuming you mean a label. But whatever the case, there are plenty of situations when it would be helpful to select a visible batch of messages, then apply a function (like delete) to them. The process for doing so is hiding in plain sight.

1. Open Gmail in your browser.

2. Click a label, apply a filter, or do whatever you like so that only the messages you want are visible.

3. Near the top of the screen, just below the search field, you'lll see a square box inside a rectangular box. That's the Select tool, and if you click that square, it'll select all visible emails.

4. Once they're selected, you can apply any of Gmail's various functions: Archive, Mark as Spam, Delete, Move to, and so on, just by clicking the corresponding button in the toolbar.

It's worth noting that if you click the little down-arrow alongside the Select checkbox, you'll see a menu of items you can quick-select: all, unread, starred, unstarred, etc. That may save time if you're looking to, say, delete all unread mail. Three clicks and you're done!

Just be careful when using this select-all option; you'll want to make sure that only your "certain category of e-mails," to use Bill's words, are visible, otherwise you could end up deleting more than you bargained for.

Contributing Editor Rick Broida writes about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at hasslefree@pcworld.com, or try the treasure trove of helpful folks in the PC World Community Forums. Sign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week.

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