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10.4: Remove attachments in Mail to save disk space Apps
Tiger only hintI've been using the excellent utility WhatSize (a long-ago Pick of the Week here) to see where I've got file cruft that I can trim away to save space. Using it recently, I noticed that my mailboxes were larger than expected.

In Tiger, Mail messages are saved as individual .emlx files, and double-clicking on the files in WhatSize opens the messages in Mail. The biggest files are, of course, messages with attachments. Without fail, I had saved the attachments I needed to different folders, as necessary, but I hadn't thought to delete the attachments from the original message. That stuff adds up.

I dug through the menus a bit, and found that there is a Message -> Remove Attachments item, but there is no keyboard shortcut for it. A quick trip to System Preferences -> Keyboard & Mouse -> Keyboard Shortcuts took care of that. I added a shorcut for Mail -> Remove Attachments (Control-Command-A for me).

Now, after I save my attachments to where I need them, I'm sure to remove them from my messages to keep the hard drive trim.

[robg adds: If you're going to do this, it's worth the trouble to use WhatSize (or a similar tool of your choice) to dive down into the individual messages first -- make sure you've saved any attachments you wish to save prior to removing them in Mail!]
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10.4: Remove attachments in Mail to save disk space | 8 comments | Create New Account
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10.4: Remove attachments in Mail to save disk space
Authored by: jacobolus on Nov 23, '05 07:49:00AM

It's easier to just select all your mailboxes, and sort the message pane by size. Then you can go through each one from the top, and get rid of the attachments. What Size is a nice app, but not at all necessary in this case.

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10.4: Remove attachments in Mail to save disk space
Authored by: zpjet on Nov 23, '05 09:11:44AM

i wanted to reply completely the same. :D

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10.4: Remove attachments in Mail to save disk space
Authored by: hschot on Nov 23, '05 10:02:37AM

You can even select multiple messages and perform 'remove attachments' on all of them in one go.

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10.4: Remove attachments in Mail to save disk space
Authored by: ddauerbach on Apr 28, '06 09:50:58AM

My refinement of this is to have smart folder with all messages that have attachments; then I sort that by size....

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10.4: Remove attachments in Mail to save disk space
Authored by: timgaden on Nov 23, '05 01:51:19PM
Great tip! If you are doing this as part of a general space-saving blitz, there are two other ways to reclaim some space from

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Don''t forget your sent messages
Authored by: whoadoggy on Nov 23, '05 02:57:32PM

Sent messages also cache attachments in your mail folder and there is a very highly likelihood that these files are found elsewhere on your HD (or no longer needed).

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E-mail as metadata
Authored by: tomem on Nov 24, '05 06:32:27AM

After struggling with this for way over a decade, my new approach is to stop thinking of e-mail as e-mail and start thinking of it as searchable metadata for the attachments. E-mail is clearly the method of choice for file sharing now, so why not go with the flow? This is particularly true with the advent of Spotlight. So I suggest that you keep your attachments attached, and use the Finder only for source files you create yourself.

It used to bother me a lot that we set up parallel file hierarchies inside our e-mail caches. Way back before OS X, I used shareware called MacPost because it stored email messages as simple text files in Finder folders. That was before attachments, and it wasted a lot of disk space. Then we got Eudora, which fails to keep the attachments attached, making a huge mess. Then we got Outlook Express and Entourage, which create parallel universes of e-mail and attachment databases that can only be accessed via the current version of the program.

Now, finally, we have and the mail files are relatively decoupled from the software that created them, but well integrated with the OS so they can be searched and used as metadata for the attached files. I was happier with it when mboxes were used, but apparently that did not support mail searching very well, so we have emlx files. At least there is a slim chance that these files will be readable beyond the current version of, since they do not reside inside a proprietary database.

Metadata is a big problem for file systems, but in the use of email to document our files, it appears we may see a glimmer of a future in which all files can be documented as extensively as we like with a combination of database fields (To:, From:, Subject:, Data:, etc.) and free form text (the message).

Crofton, MD

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E-mail as metadata
Authored by: tracymccarthy on May 18, '07 01:18:33PM

Hi Tom, I'm searching for a way to turn almost 3000 plain-text emails from an online form submission, into an Excel spreadsheet.
I have a found the folder in Library/Mail/Mailboxes, that I put them all into.
Any ideas? I am not super highly evolved, technologically speaking.
10.4.9, with Mail v2.1
Thanks, Tracy

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