Can't Delete Email from iPad or iPhone?




  • Deb Brunelle

    For Deleted Mailbox, if I choose "On the Server", this means it will be deleted from the server, correct?  I would like it to stay on the server, so when I go to download on my laptop, the emails will still be there.  But would like to limit the number of emails that get downloaded to my iPhone.

  • mad.salerno

    Great job guys. I spent hours with my SP with to no avail. Until I bumped on your site!

    Thank you!

  • Ben Greiner

    Thanks for the feedback, mad.salerno!

  • Ben Greiner

    Deb Brunelle, sorry for missing your question in July! By choosing "On the Server" you are telling your local Mail client to sync with a folder on the server so that any changes locally or on the server remain in sync.

    The best way to keep email on a server and limit the number of messages on an iPhone is to use IMAP or Exchange accounts. POP accounts are not good for this. See: I hope this helps!

  • Roseanna Belle Arroyo

    Hi Ben, I followed all instructions but I don't have the option to save to server. Included the screen grab for you :)

  • Egbert Hendriks

    All previous answers did not work for me. 

    I have gsuite / google apps paid account since that provides push mail.

    So none of the imap answers are very useful.


    What did help was

    and specifically going to

    in your iOS device' browser.


    That brings up a (unknown) mobile sync settings menu that is, well, very well hidden.

    Tick the second checkbox Enable "Delete Email As Trash" for this device to on.

    Click save.


    Do this per device where this email account is used.


    To clear the local mail cache, go to settings / mail / your gsuite account. 

    delete the account. 

    When done, reboot the iOS device.

    After reboot, go to settings / mail / add account.

    Add the gsuite / google apps account by selecting EXCHANGE (see help page above).

    Add as the server.

    User is your full email address.

    check your email / calendar / contacts / notes preferred settings.


    And all should be fine again. 

  • Ben Greiner

    Hi @Roseanna Belle Arroyo, Looks like your account is not IMAP. I would contact your email hosting provider.

    @Egbert Hendriks, thank you very much for sharing what works to solve this problem when one has a Google (G Suite) account!!! ^^^

  • David Jones

    Excellent, worked for me on both iPad 2 and IPhone 7, this "was" driving me mad, but now I am "sane again" .......well done.

  • Cheryel Rodrigue

    Thankyou your solution worked perfectly!!

  • Joan Edlis

    Hi Ben, I have the same question as Deb Brunelle from July 2016, to which you responded in September, which I did not understand how to fix the problem Deb & I share - specifically, how to reduce the Gmail emails on my iPhone 5 and retain all of them on the Gmail server (iPhone 5s, 10.2.1, IMAP, Mail linked to Gmail, avoiding Gmail App which I find clumsy). I had been very careful not to tap on some of my folders (particularly 'All' and 'Sent') but accidents happen and suddenly my iPhone downloaded hundreds of messages, gobbling up tons of storage.

    My 'Mail Behaviors' are already set up as per the top of this page. Your reply to Deb of...

    The best way to keep email on a server and limit the number of messages on an iPhone is to use IMAP or Exchange accounts. POP accounts are not good for this.

    ...did not really say how to reduce emails on iPhone (or if it did, I didn't grasp it); the link points to a discussion of the difference between POP and IMAP.

    Have I missed something? I thought I might add a new folder on laptop, say, Anti-Sent, relabel all Sent messages as Anti-Sent, empty the Sent folder, sync the iPhone and then move all Anti-Sent back into the original Sent folder but I can only label 100 messages at a time (2400 Sent, 4800 All). Must I really do this manually or is there another workaround?

    Am so glad to have found this site.




  • Robin d

    Yes, worked first try Thank you I had one email that would load or delete which I think was draining my battery So email now gone hoping this fixed the battery issue too

  • Jim B

    Another way to correct the problem is to simply delete the account and then reinstall it.

  • Ben Greiner

    Thank you all for contributing!

    @Jim B, in my experience, deleting the account and adding it back may only work for a short time — mapping the folders correctly is key.

    @Joan Edlis, I'm not familiar with how to limit mail messages in a Gmail account on an iPhone. This article looks promising. Or maybe @Egbert Hendriks will know? Please post an update when you confirm how it's done.

  • Bob

    I have an email I cannot delete on my iPhone 5s that is udated.  I've read thru this entire post and have tried everything you have suggested, but to no avail.  I'm sure I'm messing up somewhere, but cannot figure it out.  Help!

  • Aurelija Juchneviciute

    When I go tithe advanced and press "draft mailbox " I cannot uncheck my ticked box "drafts" and the same for others do it does not work for me any ideas?

  • Heidi Kovack

    I get stuck after Advanced Settings. I don't have the option "Mailbox Behaviors". My options are:
    -Use SSL (it is on)
    -move discarded messages into: deleted mailbox archive mailbox ( deleted mail boxes checked on mine )
    -S/MIME ( this is not checked on mine )

    Any ideas where to go from here?

  • La Casa del Gat

    Same problems as Heidi for me on my ipad2, no 'Mailbox behaviors' in the advanced settings. And many messages i can't delete in my hotmail mailbox on the ipad (while these messages are not visible anymore in my mailbox on pc?) no solution?

  • Christopher Shay

    The article has been updated to clarify that the solution posted does not apply to older setup Hotmail accounts. For Hotmail to work properly it needs to be setup as "" on the iPhone, which should use ActiveSync, which maps the folders automatically. So if you had setup Hotmail in the past and migrated/updated you should log in your account under the assistant, verify it works and delete the older version of the account.

  • Bacchus936

    I temporarily lost my WiFi connection and found that I could delete emails that had refused to move to trash. I have since got rid of stubborn emails by the simple expedient of taking my Ipad with me when I go out and once out of range of the WiFi connection delete them.



  • 3d Darshini 

    I had the same problem. I had to delete the configuration profile I set up for an email app. 

    • Go to Settings > General > Device Management (new iphone may not have this, so u can go directly), tap on the app’s configuration profile > Then tap Delete Profile
  • Sbcanaday

    I too have the same problem as Heidi. Can anyone help?

  • V

    Hi Ben,

    I have iOS 11.3.1 and I am using Apple Mail. I have an email that is sitting in Archive on my iPhone that will not delete. If I log into Apple Mail in iCloud on a desktop computer, the email is not there.

    I know one of the suggestions is to delete the email account and add it back. I don't believe there's a way to do this with Apple Mail because it's connected to my Apple ID and everything else with my iPhone. These later versions of iOS seem to tie everything together.

    I've tried turning Mail off, turning my phone off, turning my phone back on and turning Mail back on. That doesn't work.

    All of my mailboxes are set to On the Server under Advanced. They always have been.

    I've read and watched everything I can find.

    Any suggestions?


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