I want to just delete email attachments.

Mainly from gmail accounts, but it would be nice from other accounts too like iCloud.

The idea is to delete de attachments while keeping the mail.

Everything I've tried is painfully slow or manual or both or isn't not really deleting the email but creating a clone without attachments, so you need to remove them after.

Either if I try mail app on macOS or thunderbird (either with our without the AttachmentExtractor) what I'm getting is a copy of the email without attachment, so I have to manually delete the original one.

Is there nothing out there that just works?

  • @E.T. can you briefly state what you need this for: whats your purpose of removing attachments
    – 1NN
    Sep 23 at 9:05
  • @ E.T. The original poster asked about gmail - is that your case? What kind is your originating email server?
    – harrymc
    Sep 23 at 10:00
  • You should be able to delete the attachments with Attachment Extractor, maybe you have not seen some option... Here they suggest as alternative to create a filter with FiltaQuilla.
    – Hastur
    Sep 23 at 13:13
  • @Hastur Attachment Extractor seems to duplicate messages rather than delete the attachments, see this question or also the review comments on the addon's listing. that's not useful. i also see reviews that it tends to break with a larger amount of messages, and there's even this note: "NOTICE: It doesn't work properly on newer versions of Thunderbird, as evident by reviews!" so yeah, i don't think this is the way to do it anymore
    – E. T.
    Sep 23 at 15:47
  • @1NN reducing storage for the "Sent" folder
    – E. T.
    Sep 23 at 15:48

1 Answer 1


Thunderbird: The Thunderbird attachment AttachmentExtractor Continued is a fixed version of the original Add-on "AttachmentExtractor" which was no longer supported.

It does what you want, but doesn't work for Thunderbird versions later than Thunderbird 78 (the developer just gave up). To use this extension would require installing an old version of Thunderbird, which you may find in the Thunderbird archives. You would need to be careful to disable automatic updates immediately after the installation.

It doesn't seem to be possible to do this in the latest Thunderbird release.

Apple Mail: Another possibility is Apple mail, which allows to select multiple messages and then do Message > Remove attachments.

Script: For Python, you will find a script at imap size reducer which you could adapt to your needs. For GMail this may require a 2FA-enabled account so you can use App Passwords to circumvent their OAuth2 requirement.

GMail: For Gmail, there exists the website Unattach which is commercial with a limited free license, but would also require giving your Gmail credentials.

  • While it's not the answer I hoped it would be (since it seems to boil down to it's not possible in current Thunderbird or another open e-mail program) it still seems to be accurate, so I guess it makes sense to award the bounty to this one
    – E. T.
    Sep 27 at 21:12
  • For what it's worth for curious people passing through, there is a ticket suggesting the Apple Mail approach for Thunderbird's core: bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1762545 But it doesn't seem to have gained much traction so far.
    – E. T.
    Sep 27 at 22:03

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