How to Delete Emails from Gmail IMAP Access Mail Client

»»»How to Delete Emails from Gmail IMAP Access Mail Client

Gmail IMAP access is now enabled and available for free for all Gmail users. IMAP access ensures that Gmail users who access Gmail inbox via multiple email clients on different device platforms such as Outlook, Outlook Express, iPhone, Blackberry, Thunderbird, Windows Mobile and etc from many locations to always have synchronized version of mails. After configuring email client to access and read Gmail with IMAP protocol, there is problem that emails cannot be deleted, or email still appearing in “All Mail” folder or Gmail web interface mailbox even though you have deleted the emails from Inbox of IMAP folder.

The deleted e-mail at IMAP client not removed from Gmail inbox storage and still been kept is caused by the unique feature of Gmail, which pioneered label technology to categorize mails. In IMAP-enabled Gmail, each IMAP folder is actually a label on the email message, and is not part of actual location of the message. Thus deleting an email message from inbox is actually just removing the inbox label which identifying the message as being in the inbox from the mail message in Gmail engine, and deleting a mail message from a folder means remove custom label on email as when view from Gmail web interface.

Thus, after deleting a message from inbox or one of the custom folders in IMAP client, the message will still appear in [Gmail]/All Mail folder or “All Mail” option from Gmail web view. “All Mail” shows all of e-mail messages, whether or not they have labels attached to them.

In order to delete a email message from all folders in Gmail, or move the mail message to trash by using IMAP email client, users will have to physically move the message to the [Gmail]/Trash folder in the IMAP folders shown in the client.

In Outlook 2010 and newer email clients, you can set Outlook to automatically move the deleted items to [Gmail]/Trash folder on the server. To do so, go to the “Account Settings” of the Gmail account, and change its account settings. At “More Settings”, go to “Deleted Items” tab, and select “Move deleted items to the following server on the server”, and select the “[Gmail]/Trash” folder in the tree list.

Delete Gmail Email via IMAP in Outlook

An email message in Outlook can appear in many folders (applied with many labels). Typically, once you delete the email and move it to Trash, the email should be removed from other folders by Gmail too. Perform a sync or Send/Receive All Folders (for Outlook) so that mail client can synchronize the change that takes place on Gmail cloud after deletion. If for some reason Gmail and mail client does not automatically remove to Trash a delete email from all folders (labels), and the supposedly deleted emails on folders other than Trash folder, then manual deletion from each and every folders is requires. This including from [Gmail]/All Mail folder which archived all mails.

Once the e-mails are moved to Trash folder, it will be automatically purged by Google server process after 30 days. You can also configure your mail client to process purge permanently items mark as trashed or deleted in the original folder automatically from the server. Note that also if you delete any email message from [Gmail]/Spam or [Gmail]/Trash, it will be deleted permanently, locally and on Gmail server.

By | 2017-01-13T16:06:39+00:00 January 13th, 2017|Categories: Online Services|Tags: , |10 Comments

About the Author:

LK is a technology writer for Tech Journey with background of system and network administrator. He has be documenting his experiences in digital and technology world for over 15 years.Connect with LK through Tech Journey on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.
  • Note also that "moving" email from one "All Mail" GMail account to another also does NOT delete from the source folder. I signed up for Google Apps Premier — so I had to move my email from my existing GMail account. I learned the details you described above. I also came to realize that if I wanted to safely delete email from my old GMail account, it would be very handy to:
    1. have the ability to list emails that had one and only one label. That way, if I wanted to delete them, I could do so without deleting emails that had other labels, AND

    2. to be able to list only those emails that had NO labels. Thus, once I had copied all of the emails based on their labels to preserve that structure, I wanted to capture the remaining email by copying "All Mail" — except, it would be much faster to be able to exclude all of the labeled emails.

    Maybe you could expand on your article as these questions will become more common.



  • Scott

    The behavior you describe seems to have changed. I remember using this some months back and when I deleted a message on the handheld, it was “Archived” in Gmail; that is, it was in “All mail” but not in Inbox or Trash.
    I stopped using this for a while and now I’m back and when I delete a message on the handheld, it goes into my Gmail Trash. This is actually NOT what I want since I like Gmail’s Archive feature. I will just get used to not deleting anything on my handheld and hope that when it zaps messages over x days old it won’t auto-trash them on Gmail.

  • kk

    is there a way to see all mails that have no labels to them because of deleting from IMAP client?

  • soydeedo

    kk, yes there is a way to see only archived items (i.e. only items without any tags at all). To do this, search for "-label:inbox AND -label:test" where test would be an extra label you have aside from inbox. If you have multiple labels you need to filter out just add more AND statements like this: "-label:inbox AND -label:test AND -label:test2 AND -label:test3 AND -label:test4" etc.

    The – tells Gmail to search for items without the label "inbox" and also without the other labels. That only leaves label-less items which are what we're looking for. =)

    Hope this helps.

  • Jim Sowers

    @kk Yes, that helps, but I use a LOT of labels. So it makes for a very LONG Boolean statement. IT would be nice if they had an operator that allowed you just to identify items without labels.

    Thanks. Jim

  • kk

    I second Jim. I have way too many labels to make a search. 🙁

  • Alyce Nivala

    Hello Guru, what entice you to post an article. This article was extremely interesting, especially since I was searching for thoughts on this subject last week.

  • beth

    That was so wonderful, the best solution I have ever seen on net for this headache. I do not why Gmail is still keeping this bug in its system.

  • Olaf

    where can I find this setting on Outlook 2007. I can not find it and it is driving me crazy

  • nikki

    How do I unlink my gmail from outlook.It is synched to my phone and use it all the time and have used it for all apps. I HATE outlook and just want my gmail back. Google-quit trying to mess with programs that I love. I DO NOT want to delete my gmail acct. O ne more way to lock us into google. Chrome is going to get deleted if this cannot be resolved.