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How to delete a Gmail account

Our step-by-step guide on how to close your Google email account for good

Gmail and YouTube icons on a smartphone screen

Out of all the email platforms out there, Gmail is widely considered to be one of the best. The free service has been able to maintain mostly positive reviews and build up a user base of around 1.8 billion people, since its launch in 2004 as Google Mail. Despite this, this journey still experienced some problems. From outages, to security mishaps, to unexpected syncing features, Gmail has faced it all.

Some users feel like they no longer want to be a part of this specific Google offering, which shouldn’t really come as a surprise. Other users may have already taken their emails and left to other platforms such as Outlook or Yahoo! Mail, and no longer require a Gmail account. Others might prefer to use Slack, or put their faith in the postal service and write letters by hand.

It doesn’t matter what the reason is, you should feel free to be able to delete your Gmail account. It’s important to be aware this option exists and understand how to use it, even if you’re happy with Google’s service.

It’s also worth considering that even if you don’t use your account, it’s safer to delete it immediately instead of having to worry about future hacks or data breaches that might take place.

Deleting a Gmail account

Before you delete any email account, the first thing you want to do is make sure all your contact details have been exported. It’s probably worth checking whether there are any emails you want to download or forward to your new email account, before everything is deleted.

You will need to access a desktop or laptop computer with an internet connection, as Gmail apps can't be used to delete accounts. Also, mobile browsers are too difficult to use in these circumstances.

In a web browser, go to Google account page: Click on the sign-in button in the top right corner and enter the details for the Gmail account you wish to delete.

Once you have logged in, look for "Account Preferences" this will be in the topic boxes in the centre of the web page. Then click on "Delete your account or services".

On the next page, click on "Delete Products". You will be asked to enter your password again.

Before you delete your account, it's a good idea to download a backup copy of your data.

Follow the "Download Data" link to download a full copy of your Gmail messages via Google Takeout. 

When that's backed up, click on the trash icon next to Gmail.

At this point, if you use other Google services, you will have to provide an alternative email address to continue using them.

Note that Gmail may already have a secondary address you used when setting up this Gmail account.

To continue using these services, you will have to send a verification email to this alternative email address. Once that email has been received, click on the verification link to verify the new sign-in address.

Once you have signed in with this alternative email address, the deletion of your Gmail email account will be finalised.

If you have used IMAP to access Gmail, only messages copied to a local folder will be kept. Any emails on the server and folders synchronised with the closed Gmail account will be deleted.

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