How to Delete a Gmail Account Permanently

Your Gmail account can feel like an extension of you, and there’s a good chance you’ve had the same one for as far back as you can remember. So deciding to delete your Gmail account is a potentially big commitment.

But sometimes the time is right to move on. In the case of Gmail, maybe you’re not a fan of Google’s privacy policy or have simply decided that it’s time to have a more adult email address than the one you had since the age of 12. (I’ll never forget you, spider_man69@gmail.com.) Here’s our guide on how to delete your Gmail account forever.

Before deleting your Gmail, you should make sure this email address is no longer attached to your bank, Amazon, work, or other important accounts because there’s no way to forward emails sent to your email address once it’s been deleted. So go to your most important accounts first and change the contact email address on them.

The next thing to do, if you so wish, is to download all the important emails from your Gmail account. Google actually has a built-in tool for doing this. It’s called the Download your data page. Visit the link, then de-select all the boxes apart from Mail. (Click the “Select none” box, then just click the slider next to ‘Mail’ to turn it blue.) You can also choose to only save emails under certain labels. Just click “All mail” next to Mail to choose which labels to download.

Once you’re ready, click Next, then follow the instructions to save your inbox content.

1. Sign in to your Google account using any of Google’s services (We’ll use Gmail to demonstrate.), then click your Google profile picture at the top-right and select “My Account.”

2. On the My Account screen click the “Delete your account or services” option highlighted in red below.

3. On the next screen scroll down until you reach the “Delete your account or services” heading, then click “Delete products” and sign in for the last time to your current Gmail account.

You’ll see a list of Google services attached to your account that you can delete. (It’s good to know in case you want to delete other Google services in the future.)

4. Click the bin icon next to “Gmail,” then enter an email address when prompted so your other Google accounts – Drive and so on – can remain active. Your alternative email address can’t be another Gmail address.

Once you’ve done this, you’ll receive an email at the address you entered asking you to click a link and confirm that you do indeed want to do away with your Gmail account for good.

5. Click the link, then read Google’s message that rightly claims not to be “the usual yada yada.” The most crucial thing to note is that if you were using this email address as a recovery address for bank details, important accounts, etc., then you will no longer be able to access this information.

6. Now that you’ve considered all the consequences, are you ready to delete your account? If so, then tick the box at the bottom of the “yada yada” box and select “DELETE GMAIL.”

That’s it! You no longer have access to any of the content of the Gmail inbox because that Gmail address is no more. To reiterate, you will still be able to access your other Google services attached to the deleted Gmail address using the email address you registered earlier.

Getting cold feet over the prospect of a lifetime without Gmail? For a limited amount of time – two to three weeks after you delete it, by Google’s reckoning –  you’ll be able to recover you Gmail account in its entirety. Beyond that you should still be able to restore your gmail address, but all your emails contained therein will be gone.

To do this, go to the Google Account Recovery page and follow the on-screen instructions to see if you can get your account back.

So there you have it. It’s almost strange how simple it is to delete your Gmail account considering how significant the implications are. You almost feel like there should be some sort of interview process for deleting your Gmail account, talking you through what the decision will mean for you and your life.

But no! Several clicks and you’re done. I stress again that you really should ensure that you’ve backed up everything crucial from your Gmail and that you’ve selected an alternative email address to receive your most important information.

This article was first published in April 2013 and was updated in November 2017.