How to Delete Instead of Archive Email on Your iPhone

This post may contain affiliate links which means I make a commission if you shop through my links. Disclosure Policy

When you use your iPhone for email, the default option is to archive. But what if you want to delete email instead? Well, luckily you can. This is how to delete instead of archive email on your iPhone.

How to delete email in iOS instead of archiving it.

You don't want to hang onto every coupon and sale notification, right?  So frustrating!

Why it took me so long to figure out how to delete instead of archive email in iOS is beyond me – because it's actually really easy to do.

Read on.

Does Your Email Inbox Have a Life of Its Own?

“Did you get my email?” – don't you hate that question?

My email inbox had taken on a life of its own and I was determined to tame the monster that it has become.

I use Gmail for most of my email accounts. I also use devices running iOS (namely the iPhone and iPad) to check my email.

If you use Gmail, you know that this service archives everything into an “All Mail” folder.

Things you thought you deleted are still there.

This is a nice feature, especially if you delete something that you really needed, accidentally.

The problem is that my archive folder had become extremely bloated. I had over 4000 – yes four THOUSAND – unread emails in archives. This number did not even include emails that I had opened and read.

Most of the unread emails were retail in nature. I am on the mailing list for stores like GAP and Land's End etc. I like receiving coupons and sale info in my email. But if I don't plan to shop, I don't bother reading the email. And when I delete the email – I don't plan to revisit it years later.

I wanted to permanently delete email in iOS – not just archive it.

The Default Setting on Your iPhone is to Archive Not Delete Email in iOS

I read a lot of email on my iPhone.

But, the thing is – when I wanted to permanently delete email in iOS on my iPhone or iPad, I was only given the option to archive by default.

To actually delete the email, I had to select the folder icon and then navigate to the Trash folder.

Who does that?

Because I didn't have time to deal with it, I just kept archiving everything. Hence, 4000 unread archived emails.

What I really wanted to do is change the Archive option to a Delete/Trash option.

The Solution to the Problem Is In Your Settings

Finally, I got fed up and found the solution.

  • Open settings on your iPhone or iPad.
  • Go to Mail, Contacts, and Calendars
  • Select the account that you want to change the behavior for
  • At the bottom of the screen tap on Advanced
  • In the second section titled “Move Discarded Messages Into” make sure that “Deleted Mailbox” is checked

Now when you delete an email, it will be gone for good.

In Settings under the Advanced section mentioned above, if you have the Deleted Mailbox set as “Trash” on the server (under the first section titled “Mailbox Behaviors” then the trashed email will be deleted by Gmail automatically after 30 days. So, you can still get your message back for up to a month if you delete it accidentally.

Just make sure that you have your Trash mailbox set up to work with IMAP in the Gmail settings on the actual Gmail website.

Unfortunately, You Can't Do Both

Unfortunately, iOS does not give you the option to choose between archiving and deleting a message. If you changed the settings as I described above then you will only be able to trash your messages. To archive them, you will need to take the long route and select the folder icon and file the email away in the appropriate folder.

It is up to you to decide which setting works better with your workflow.

Enjoy Your Roomier Inbox

You can now enjoy your roomier email inbox. But just remember how you set it up to delete instead of archive emails, in case you ever want to switch back.

Other Gmail Tips

Similar Posts


  1. Hello Neena,

    Nice post, Gmail is really cool for fast email service and I’m also using it since a long time. And yes you are right all the deleted mails goes to one folder and it would be of thousands of email. The post is really helpful.


  2. Hello.

    Well yes I do use Gmail and it’s my primary way of communication in terms of online. The best thing i like about gmail is it’s easy fast and easy to use. Now coming post, you are right about the deleted emails which get archived. Your tips are really helpful.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Jijin,
      I do like the capabilities of Gmail very much – but it is a little funky when setting it up with IMAP. If you don’t have a system you can quickly accumulate tons of email and become quite disorganized.
      Thanks for stopping in!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.