The quirks of Yahoo mail

The quirks of Yahoo Mail

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I have a separate Yahoo email address that I use for promotional newsletters from retailers. I hardly check this email except when I am scrolling mindlessly on my phone.

Last month, I was locked out of my Target account and had to retrieve the two-factor authorization code that was sent to my yahoo mail. So I logged into my yahoo inbox from the browser. It’s been years since I was in there and the user interface looked different.

And I had over 466,666 emails going back to 2015!

This happened at the end of December when I was in decluttering mode. I thought it might be a good time to clear out the yahoo mail and have a fresh start in the new year.

As I began deleting the emails I found out that you can only delete 100 emails at once. Even the ‘Select All’ option only selects the messages displayed on the screen, so you need to use it multiple times.

Whether you are in your inbox, spam, archive, unread, or even the trash folder, Yahoo lets you delete only 100 emails at a time.

A snapshot of the yahoo email deleting 100 emails at a time.

There is no setting to change this number or do a one-click ‘Select All’. A google search on how to delete all the emails at once turned up with nothing useful.

The only option Yahoo gives to clean the inbox is to archive the emails. So I did that. With one click, all 466,666 emails are now archived.

Archiving the yahoo emails

My curiosity got the best of me and I went into the archive folders and started digging around what I had in them.

I have emails from Target sent in 2018 about their awesome Thanksgiving deals. Why would I want to archive these emails? Why would I care about the Container store sale in 2016? Isn’t it better to delete them and save some space on the Yahoo servers? But I found no option to delete all the emails at once, even in the archives.

I wonder what the thought process is behind this UX decision to let users delete only 100 emails at a time.

Why is it ok to archive 466,666 emails at once when you have no option to do a one-click delete all? Shouldn’t the user get to make that decision?

Is this a use case that doesnt happen as often as I think it does?

Who would do a delete all, multiple times (we are talking about a few 100 times for this many emails)? Isn’t it better to delete all the emails and lower our carbon footprint?

Is this a ploy to get customers to pay for archiving the emails? I know Yahoo offers unlimited email storage.

According to The Good Planet, nearly 107 billion spam emails were sent and received a day in 2019. If every person only deleted 10 of those emails, they could save 1,725,00 gigabytes of storage space and around 55.2 million kilowatts of power. 

This made me wonder about the company, their market share and the user base. Here is what I found.

  • Yahoo Mail was launched on October 8, 1997.
  • Most of its users are from older generations aged 45 years and up. These users have been with them from the start and have no plan to change.
  • According to the company, it has approximately 227.8 million active users with around 26 billion sent emails each day.

2019 Email client market share graph

DISCLAMER: This is not an attempt to bash Yahoo Mail, just some of my observations. I havent tested this with other email services as I don’t have this many unread emails there. So I can’t add how the others handle this use case. If you have any thoughts, please do share.

A workaround to delete all emails at once

All that being said, I found a workaround to delete all the emails at once.

  • Scroll all the way to the bottom of your email list. You will have to keep scrolling and let Yahoo load the emails continuously as you scroll down. Do this until you reach the last email in the list.
  • Now do a ‘Select All’ or press CMD+A on the mac. This will select all the emails at once.
  • Click ‘Delete’ to delete all the emails at once.