Overview of the Purge Messages Feature

Gopher for Gmail offers Google Workspace super-administrators the ability to preview and permanently delete search-specific messages from specific recipient and sender Gmail accounts. 

Mass deletion of emails from user Gmail accounts may be desirable in any of the following circumstances:

  • Phishing/malware: An email disseminated to users contains deceptive information designed to get users to click links to malicious apps that can obtain API scopes to collect sensitive information or act on behalf of users within Google or other systems, or to submit sensitive information to web forms, etc.
  • Student data privacy violation: An email body or attachments contains sensitive (FERPA, etc.) protected student information and is sent out to a student or staff audience that is not legally permitted to see the information.  This can happen accidentally due to a global address/autocomplete error, or it can arise from a misconfiguration of Google Groups.  Our Gopher for Groups tool helps reduce the likelihood of the latter.
  • Inappropriate content/abuse of service:  Students make mistakes as they grow into technologies, some of which can be quite disruptive and require fast remediation.  Misconfigured Google Groups can make the likelihood of this problem greater.  Our Gopher for Groups tool helps reduce the likelihood of the latter.
  • Student online safety:  Email can be a vector for cyberbullying, shaming, and reducing the associated harms can sometimes require quick action on the part of IT administrators.

Note: Emails via Gmail Gopher are still retained for legal purposes according to your Google Vault retention rules.

How It Works

To use Gopher for Gmail you’ll work in both the Admin console and Google Sheets with the Google for Gmail add-on. You’ll start by generating a log search and export it from the Admin console. Next, you’ll load the file in Sheet using the Google for Gmail add-on. A stepper walks you through filtering and previewing to be sure you purge the correct messages.

Admin Console: Performing and Downloading an Email Log Search

  1. In the Admin console,
    Main Menu > Reporting
  2. In the left panel, click Email Log Search.
  3. Enter the criteria for the search.
  4. Click Search. A list of results appears at the bottom of the page.
  5. Click Download at the right of the results list. DownloadButton.png
  6. From the popup, click Download as a CSV file.
  7. Click Download.
  8. Click Download CSV.

Learn more about how to use the Email Log Search.

Gopher for Gmail: Purging Messages

  1. In Google Sheets, open a sheet.
  2. Give the Sheet a title.
  3. Navigate to Extensions > Gopher for Gmail > Launch sidebar.
  4. In the Bulk actions tab, click Purge messages to open the stepper.
  5. Click Choose File to select the log search CSV file you created. 
  6. Click Next. The Emails to Purge tab is created in the Sheet.
  7. Review the summary for messages to be transformed and loaded to the sheet.
  8. Click Load to Sheet. Log data is de-duplicated and scrubbed and loaded to a tab named Emails to Purge.  
  9. Filter out any rows you do not want to purge using Sheets Filters.
  10. Click Preview. The preview window gives a view of each unique email, recipients, message ID, and email body. Click on a message at the left to preview it.
  11. By default, both Purge for recipients and Purge for sender are selected. If needed, clear either of the checkboxes to preserve the message.
  12. Click Run Job. A high-level summary is provided, as well as a Sheets-filterable Status note on each message-recipient combination within the Sheet.
  13. After viewing the summary, click Done to return to the sheet with the sidebar. Any messages that failed to purge remain in the Sheet.

Exporting Activity Logs

If you are curious about the activity that’s taking place in Gopher for Gmail, you can export activity performed by all admins on the domain with Gopher for Gmail as a log.

  1. From the Gopher for Gmail sidebar, click the Settings tab. HamburgerButton.png
  2. Enter the first day for the log in the Start date field or select the date from the drop-down calendar.
  3. Enter the last day for the log in the End date field or select the date from the drop-down calendar.
  4. Click To This Spreadsheet. The activity is loaded to a tab named Log Export.


Document Version Date Description of Change
1.0 3/12/2024 Changed 2 links to CDWG from AIT legacy site


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