How to delete a Gmail account

Here's how to close down a Google email account

Gmail app icon

Google's email service, Gmail (formerly Google Mail), has been a stalwart of the free webmail service offerings for over a decade but it's not without its faults.

Some people have found they're unhappy with Google's privacy practices. Notably, the company skims the subject lines of your emails to deliver ads in your inbox such as those below.

While many have decided to put up with or indeed ignore these intrusions, others find it too much and want out.

For some people it's not ads that tip them over the edge, but the imposition of new designs. Its current user interface (UI), which squirrels some content away from the primary inbox into "social" and "promotions" tabs (with varying degrees of success), was far from universally welcomed when it first came out, leading some users to abandon the platform.

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There's also, of course, the simple fact that there are numerous other options out there that you may prefer better.

Whatever your reasons, you may decide that now's the time not just to let your Gmail account go fallow, but to actively take it out of service.

Here we lay out the steps you need to take to successfully, completely and permanently delete your Gmail account.

Deleting a Gmail account

Prior to deleting any email account, make sure all contact details are exported. You may also wish to download or forward any messages you want to keep after account deletion. 

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. 

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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.  

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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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