As a result of a long-running cron job, I have over 1,000 messages in my user's mailbox. What's the easiest way to delete them?

3 Answers 3


If you want to delete all the messages, you can simply truncate the mailbox file for a user with the following command:

> /var/mail/username

(the greater than sign is not a prompt: you are in effect redirecting the output of nothing to the file, which will truncate it).


Run mail in a terminal. Press d 1-. This will delete those messages.

Removing files for managing mail is like adjust the volume of your tv with a hammer. It may work, but it is not optimal and far too brutal.

  • 1
    This is the correct answer. It also allows deleting just some emails, if it's unclear from the command. E.g. d 1-100 will delete the first 100 email messages.
    – texnic
    May 20, 2017 at 7:19
  • 1
    I had to install mailutils and then use d * on Ubuntu 12.04 Jul 22, 2019 at 3:19
  • It was d * on centos 8 after installing mailx
    – james-see
    Jun 21, 2021 at 20:25

It depends if you have ftp access. If so, just use Nautilus to do a good deal more than any other ftp client. I also use it and Bluefish to edit pages on my websites.

There should be a Mail folder where you can view and delete any and all files.

I find it so much easier than File Manager in cPanel.

  • 2
    You make a lot of assumptions here - like cPanel, ftp access and so on. What do you base these on?
    – vidarlo
    May 20, 2017 at 14:11

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