How to manage Google Workspace storage from a phone

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At your storage limit in Google Drive, Gmail or Google Photos? You can find large items and move them to the trash to free up space on your phone.

Image: Andy Wolber / TechRepublic

When you hit your Google Workspace storage limit, things stop working. You cannot send or receive Gmail messages. You cannot store more files on Google Drive. And you can’t back up photos or videos with Google Photos.

Your first step should be to contact your Workspace administrator. An administrator can verify the global organization storage, investigate user account storage use then purchase additional storage or upgrade the license linked to your account. Some Workspace Enterprise plans offer unlimited storage! (Individual users who are not part of organizational plans may wish to consider a Google One plan purchase.)

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Your second step would be to delete any large emails, files, videos or photos that you no longer need. In a previous article, I described the steps you (and a Google Workspace administrator) could take to reduce the storage space used by your account. All of these steps work well with a desktop web browser, such as Chrome.

But not everyone who uses Workspace has access to a desktop. And it’s not necessarily obvious or easy to figure out how to reduce your workspace storage usage from your phone. However, this is possible with the steps below. (The Google One mobile app on ios Where Android helps individuals manage storage, but does not allow access from organization accounts.)

Before we start, if you are using Chrome on Android, I recommend that you force the zoom to on first. On your phone, open Chrome, tap the three-dot menu (top right) | Settings | Accessibility | then check the box next to Force zoom activation (Figure A). This allows pinching and pinching on web pages.

Figure A

Three screenshots of Chrome on Android: (left) After tapping on the three dot menu, shows settings circled, (middle) circled accessibility, in the Advanced section, and (right) the box Force zoom is checked.

If you’re using Chrome on Android, you’ll probably want to force zoom on to allow zooming in and zooming out.

How to Check Drive, Gmail, and Photo Storage Usage

In Chrome, when you’re signed in to your Google Workspace account, open the Drive storage page (as shown in the background in the photo at the top of this article) to examine the storage space used by your account on Drive, Gmail, and Photos. Prioritize your efforts to reduce storage based on the space used in each of these applications.

How to find large files on Drive storage from your phone

  1. Go to Google drive in Chrome (for example, on Android) or Safari (for example, on iPhone).
  2. Tap the horizontal three-line menu at the top left, and then tap Desktop version (Number B, to the left). This allows you to switch from Drive’s mobile view to the standard web view.
  3. Tap Storage (Number B, environment). This displays a list of large files on your Drive, sorted by those taking up the most storage space at least (Number B, to the right)
  4. Tap a file name to select it, and then tap the Trash icon. Check the file name, then press the Move to Trash button only if you are sure you no longer need the file. Repeat this process for as many large files as you want.
  5. Optional: Although Drive automatically deletes items from the Trash after 30 days, you can also empty the Trash manually. Tap the Trash icon on the left side of the screen and then tap Empty Trash. If you are sure that you no longer need the deleted files, tap Permanently delete.

Number B

Four screenshots: (top left, inset), My Drive in Chrome, with three circled horizontal lines, (left) the Drive menu options with the desktop version circled, (middle) the option Storage circled, (right) page zoomed in a bit, moved to show file sizes starting at 11.82 GB, in decreasing file size.

In your mobile browser, open Google Drive and switch to the desktop version, then tap Storage. This displays the files stored on My Drive, sorted from largest to smallest.

How to find large emails in Gmail on your phone

  1. Open the Gmail app (on Android or iPhone) and make sure you’re signed in with your Workspace account.
  2. In the search box, find emails that are larger than a specific file size. Enter larger: 10MB to locate emails larger than 10MB, for example, as shown in Figure C. If the list is very long, adjust the search size (for example, larger: 15MB) to find fewer but larger emails.
  3. Tap the email in the returned results to review it. Once you’re sure you want to delete an email, tap the trash can icon (top right). This immediately moves the email to the trash. Note that unlike the above Drive files, there is no additional confirmation step.
  4. Optional: As with the Drive file, the system will automatically delete emails that have been in the trash for more than 30 days. However, the easiest way to empty Gmail Trash is to use the Gmail mobile app. After signing in to the Gmail app with your Workspace account, tap the horizontal three-line menu at the top left, then tap Trash. Near the top of the screen, tap the Empty Trash Now button that appears, and then, if you’re sure you no longer need the email in the trash, tap Empty.

Figure C

Screenshot of the Gmail app on Android, with 5 emails displayed, and

Install the Gmail app on Android or iPhone, sign in with your account, then use the larger search term: 10MB to find attachments larger than 10MB.

How to find video files in Google Photos on your phone

While Drive and Gmail both provide methods for people who use Workspace accounts to find large files, the Google Photos app on Android or iOS does not have the equivalent functionality of finding / sorting large files on phones. starting November 2021. However, searching for Photos for Video Files can help you find items that are taking up significant storage space.

  1. Open the Photos app and make sure you’re signed in with your Workspace account.
  2. Enter a video file extension in the search box. On the Google Photos help page, supported video file types include “.mpg, .mod, .mmv, .tod, .wmv, .asf, .avi, .divx, .mov, .m4v, .3gp, .3g2,. Mp4, .m2t, .m2ts, .mts and .mkv. ” For example, you can search for .mp4 or .mov files, as shown in Number D.
  3. Examine the search results for video files. Tap a file to view it.
  4. If you no longer need a video file, tap the trash can icon and then tap Move to Trash. Repeat this process for as many files as you want.
  5. Optional: The system deletes backed up items after 60 days in the Recycle Bin, while items that are not backed up are deleted after 30 days in the Recycle Bin. To manually empty the trash earlier, tap Library, then Trash, then tap the three-dot menu and tap Empty Trash. If you’re sure you no longer need the items in the trash, tap Delete Permanently (or, on iPhone, Delete).

Number D

Screenshot of Google Photos on Android, with a search for .mov that returned hundreds of files.  21 videos displayed on the screen, with durations (for example, 03:44) displayed in the area at the top right of each.

In the Google Photos app on Android or iOS, you can search for various video file extensions, such as .mp4 or .mov. In the Photos app, it helps you identify video files, which may require a lot of storage space.

How do you manage Workspace storage for mobile-only people?

If you’re using a corporate Workspace account, the easiest way to review and reduce your storage is to do so from a laptop or desktop PC with Chrome (or, failing that, on a Mac, Safari). The options above are the best techniques I’ve identified for people who use Workspace only on mobile.

If you are a workspace administrator, what methods do you use to monitor people’s storage in your organization? If you primarily access Workspace from a mobile device, what practices do you use to stay under storage limits? Let me know how you handle the storage of the Workspace account from a mobile device, either with a comment below or on Twitter (@awolber).

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