How to delete old email attachments on Mac to regain storage space

By default, the Mail app on your Mac downloads all email attachments you receive to the computer, eventually taking some serious amounts of storage space. As we’ve seen in the past, there is a way to tweak this and stop the Mail app from downloading all attachments, but it will still locally download attachments that you open. And over time, this can add up to several gigabytes of storage space if you aren’t being careful.

This article will show you how to delete old email attachments on your Mac and regain storage space in the process.

Apple Mail app with a broom on top that signifies cleaning old email attachments

It should be noted that this method is virtually risk-free and will not delete attachments that you have yourself saved to a specific folder on your computer. It will only delete attachments that were automatically downloaded as some sort of caching measure by the opening system. These are files that you probably didn’t even know were on your computer, to begin with. Most of these files are obvious attachments, such as PDFs or photos you might have received, but also less obvious files, such as images embedded in signatures.

How to delete old attachments downloaded by the Mail app

Follow these instructions to delete old email attachments:

1) Open a Finder window.

2) In the Search bar, type Mail Downloads and then click Contains “Mail Downloads.Don’t hit the return key.

Search for Mail Downloads in Mac Finder

Important: I found that if you hit the return key after typing Mail Downloads, the search results may not show the folder we’re looking for.

Alternatively, you can type Mail, hit the enter key, and pick the Mail Downloads folder.

3) You may see one or more Mail Downloads folders. Open one, and you will see several subfolders here. If you don’t see anything, try the other Mail Downloads folder.

Mail Downloads folder on Mac

4) Opening a subfolder will reveal the downloaded email attachment inside them. To free space, go back, select all subfolders in the Mail Downloads folder and delete them.

Delete old attachments downloaded by Mail app

Depending on how long you’ve had your Mac for, you may have multiple gigabytes of storage space clogged by unneeded files. Going through this process should help regain some of that space.

Even if macOS has become smarter in the way it handles storage and unneeded files, it is still something you have to keep a tab on, especially if you own an older computer.

Again, it’s definitely a good idea to stop the Mail app from downloading all attachments on Mac, to begin with.

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