Can't Delete Email from iPad or iPhone?

Ben Greiner -

Can't Delete Email from iPad or iPhone?

PROBLEM

Error message when trying to delete a message from iPad or iPhone:

Unable to move message. The message could not be moved to the Trash. 
 
THIS FIX DOES NOT WORK WITH HOTMAIL ACCOUNTS
 
Hotmail is NOT IMAP, it used EAS and does not offer these options. To fix Hotmail the account needs to be removed fully and then setup as an "Outlook.com" email in the iOS Mail setup.)

SOLUTION

Navigate to your email account's settings

  • Go To Settings (Gear icon). 
  • Tap Mail, Contacts, Calendars. NOTE: in iOS 10 this is simply called "Mail".
  • Select your email account (You will want to make sure this is set for all your IMAP accounts.) 
  • Tap Account Info (in iOS 8, tap the item named "Account [your email address]").
  • Tap Advanced (At the very bottom. You may need to hide the keyboard to see this.)

Set up Mailbox Behaviors to store message in the correct folders "On The Server"

  • Under the "Mailbox Behaviors" section, select "Drafts Mailbox" 
  • In the new window, select the "Drafts" folder from the "On the Server" section. You should see a check mark next to this folder. Do NOT check the "On My iPhone" "Drafts" selection at the top. 
  • Tap the "Advanced" button on the top left to go back to the advanced page. 
  • Repeat this process for the "Deleted Mailbox" and "Sent Mailbox",  selecting the corresponding "On The Server" mailboxes. With Gmail accounts, you will also have the ability to map an "Archive Mailbox", which can be linked to the "All Mail" mailbox. 
 
Back Out to Complete the Changes
  • Tap the "Advanced" button on the top left. 
  • Tap on "Account Info". 
  • Tap "DONE" (do not tap Cancel).

You may need to then completely shut down, and then turn your iPhone back on.

 

Have more questions? Submit a request

78 Comments

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    Grant Gerke

    It worked, nice work fellas. 

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    Ameer Almusawi

    Excellent Clear Instructions. Thank You Very Much for taking the time to write this. 

    Not even Apple technical support could figure this out. It works 100%.

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    Jon Willis

    I'm getting this error message on my iPhone 4 running iOS 5.0.1 with a POP3 account.  I see the settings to which you refer in my IMAP accounts but my POP account doesn't even give me the option to specify mailboxes.  To attempt a resolution I changed my account to IMAP but I'd really like to know why POP3 is dysfunctional.

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    Ben Greiner

    We do not recommend using POP accounts. IMAP is best. More information here: 

    https://forgetcomputers.zendesk.com/entries/34873-email-hosting-imap-vs-pop

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    Andrea Veenstra

    After spending the whole morning trouble shooting my iphone problem with apple support (no sound for incoming emails)  I finally got it working after deleting my accounts and re entering them multiple times, only to find out i could no longer delete messages. They couldn't help me on this, so i searched on the web and found this easy, step by step advice. Works perfect now! Thanks so much.

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    Ben Greiner

    Thanks for the feedback Andrea. Glad we could help!

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    Michele Hale

    What a star you are! I was slowly losing what's left of my mind over this but back to some semblance of normality now. Thank you!

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    Earlene McLean

    Thank you so much. Worked on iPad and iPhone.

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    Miguel Gonzalez

    Useful info for users in Mexico! thanks

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    Jackie

    Hi there,

    This didn't work for me.  I have 2 messages that will not delete.  When I go into Drafts Mailbox and when I look for the Sent Mailbox is it greyed out unless I go down into my other folders where I see sent-mail and SentMail and I have tried choosing those and finish the instructions, power down but there are 2 messages that will still not delete.  I have tried this a few times.  Thanks, 

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    Jackie

    Update - so I was actually able to get rid of 1 of the messages - what I hadn't done is follow the instructions for both my ipad and iPhone - once I did that it worked.  What is really strange is that I have a second message that it will not work for? I still get the same message "Unable to Move Message....??

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    Ben Greiner

    Hi Jackie,

    Try accessing your email online and see if you can delete the message there. Gray folders are also something you probably want to delete.

    If you have multiple folders with similar names (sent-mail and SentMail) then...

    1. Confirm online which are the real folders (you will NOT be able to delete the "real" folders).
    2. Delete the extra folders. 
    3. Following the instructions one last time to ensure you've "mapped" (or matched) the correct folders on your iOS device with the correct folders on the server.

    Good luck!

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    Jackie

    Hi Ben,

    Thanks so much for all of your help. I went on-line and did some clean up and things seem to be working great now.

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    Leo-Aureo Medalla

    Hey Ben,

    Thanks a lot! Keep up the good work!!

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    Meriam Matthews

    My iPhone 4S was retaining a single email that wouldn't allow itself to be deleted no matter what I did. But the following did work:

    1. Log into "Settings" > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > (your email account) > Advanced > Remove >

    2. The default is "after one week", but change it to "after one day".

    3. If the message you want to delete is older than a day, it can then be deleted simply by tapping your trash can icon when the persistent email is on your screen.

    4. You can then change it back to "after one week" if you like.

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    Ben Greiner

    Thanks for sharing, Meriam!

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    Ben Greiner

    If you've been helped by this article, we'd really appreciate a positive review on Apple's site.

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    JMN

    I do not have the "advanced" option at the bottom of my screen.  How esle can I get to this??

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    Ben Greiner

    Hi JMN,

    What type of email account are you running? Not all email will have this option. IMAP and iCloud will have the "Advanced" option. Microsoft Exchange (ActiveSync) will not because it is not required (the folders are automatically mapped appropriately). I have not tested POP accounts (we also do  not recommended POP :).

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    JMN

    Hi Ben - thanks very much for the reply. I am using Exchange. Any ideas on how to get rid of these messages?

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    Ben Greiner

    JMN, if "mark as read" (then delete) doesn't work, then contact your Exchange Host or IT Support provider. There's no reason why this should be a problem.

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    Joe Chavalia

    Ok, so I get to this point       In the new window, select the "Sent Mailbox" folder. From the "On the Server" listing in the lower portion of the window, select the "Sent" folder. You should see a check mark next to this folder.    And I do NOT get a check mark next to "Sent".  Now what do I do????

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    Ben Greiner

    Hi Joe, so you can see the folder you want to sync, but it's not selectable? 

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    Joe Chavalia

    Yes that is the issue, it's there, but I can't select it.  I can get that cool little check mark on just about everything EXCEPT that folder.  I do truly hate technology :)

     

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    KMR

    Are these applicable to iPhone 5 as well? I went through these steps & found my settings to already be as suggested. The message that I am trying to delete does not show up when I check my email on a computer, or on my iPad, just my iPhone. Suggestions?

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    Ben Greiner

    Hi KMR,

    Yes, these instructions are applicable to all iPhones.

    In addition to running through these instructions a second time to double-check the process, also ensure your software is up-to-date (Settings > General > Software Update). Try restarting your iPhone. From the list view in Mail, try  Edit > Select the mail message to delete > Choose Delete. Try deleting one at a time (vs a group).

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    KMR

    Thank you for your response.  I double-checked the process and my phone is not allowing this step:

    "In the new window, select the "Sent Mailbox" folder. From the "On the Server" listing in the lower portion of the window, select the "Sent" folder. You should see a check mark next to this folder. Do NOT check the "On My iPhone" "Sent" selection at the top. "

    I only have the Drafts Mailbox or Deleted Mailbox.  When I click on Drafts, "Drafts" is what it goes to and there is no option of selecting the "Sent Mailbox" folder in order to select "On the Server" for my "sent mailbox".  Any ideas on that?  

    I have ensured that my software is up-to-date, I have restarted my iPhone (multiple times) and I have also tried deleting the message as you described (also multiple times).  

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    Ben Greiner

    Hi KMR,

    To confirm, using a screen grab (see below) from the video as a reference, your iPhone does NOT show a "Sent" folder "On the Server", correct?

    Screen_Shot_2013-06-21_at_9.27.00_AM.png

     

    If that is the case, try this...

    1. Confirm the account is an IMAP account.
    2. Confirm your SMTP settings are correct.
    3. Delete the email account from the iPhone and try adding it back fresh.
    4. Call your email hosting provider for support -- the "Sent" folder should be there!
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    KMR

    Hi Ben~

    I ended up deleting the email account & adding it back & got it to work that way. I appreciate your help very much! Thank you! :)

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    Ben Greiner

    Hi KMR, Great to hear you got it working, and thank you for sharing the solution!

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