Delete or recover deleted Gmail messages

To delete an email, open or select the message and click the Trash icon Delete. In case you change your mind and want to un-delete them, deleted messages stay in the Trash folder for around 30 days. After that, they'll no longer be user-recoverable.

Tip: Archive instead of delete

Instead of deleting a message, you can archive it. When you archive a message, it moves the message out of your inbox but keeps it in your account so you can search for it later. Learn more about archiving messages.

Computer
Delete messages
Delete individual messages
  1. Open Gmail.
  2. Open the message (or select the checkbox next to it).
  3. Click the Trash icon Delete.

To delete a specific message from a conversation thread, click the down arrow next to Reply and choose Delete this message.

Delete many or all messages at once
  1. Open Gmail.
  2. Find the group of messages you want to delete. You can find messages by searching or by selecting all messages with a certain label.
  3. Select messages using the checkbox in the toolbar above your messages. This selects all messages that are currently visible on the page.
  4. Directly above your messages, you should see a sentence similar to this:

    "All 20 conversations on this page are selected. Select all conversations that match this search."
    Use the “Select all conversations” link to select the rest of the messages if you’d like to delete all the messages at once rather than one page at a time.

  5. If you’re confident you won’t need these messages in the future, click the Trash icon Delete.
Permanently delete messages manually

If you want to permanently delete a message right away, you can do it manually.

  1. Go to Trash (see directions above).
  2. To delete messages individually, open or select the message and click the Delete forever.
  3. To delete all messages in Trash at once, click the Empty Trash now link directly above the messages.
Find & recover messages

Messages stay in Trash for around 30 days after which they are no longer user-recoverable. You can find and move messages out of Trash before they're automatically deleted.

Find messages in Trash
  1. Open Gmail.
  2. Hover over your label list on the left side of Gmail (under the compose button).
  3. Click More at the bottom of your label list (you may need to scroll down).
  4. Select Trash.

If you don’t see Trash under More , look for Trash towards the top of your label list.

Recover deleted messages
  1. Find the message in Trash (see above).
  2. Open the message (or select the checkbox next to it).
  3. Click the Move to icon Move to.
  4. Choose where you want to move the message to, such as Inbox or another label.
Android 4.0+

You can delete messages one-by-one or select multiple messages. To delete all messages, you'll need to sign in to Gmail on your computer.

Archive & delete actions

Are you more likely to archive or delete a message? This setting makes your preferred remove action visible while viewing messages and notifications.

  1. In the Gmail app, touch the menu Menu.
  2. Touch Settings.
  3. Select General settings.
  4. Touch Archive & delete actions.

When you choose to see archive, see delete, or see both, you'll be able to:

  • See the icon(s) when you view mail.
  • Choose the action (archive or delete) from interactive notifications (Android 4.1+).
  • Swipe to archive or delete (make sure the box for the swipe setting is checked).

Tip: Additional actions are in the menu More, so you can always delete or archive messages.

Confirm before deleting

To avoid accidentally deleting an important message, you can turn on these settings:

  1. In the Gmail app, touch the menu Menu.
  2. Touch Settings.
  3. Select General settings.
  4. Check Confirm before deleting, Confirm before archiving, or both.
Find deleted messages
  1. In the Gmail app, touch the menu Menu.
  2. Select Trash.
Move messages out of Trash so they won’t be deleted
  1. In the Gmail app, touch the menu Menu.
  2. Select Trash.
  3. Select or open a message.
  4. Touch the "Move to" icon Move to icon.
  5. Choose a label.
Empty Trash

When you empty Trash, messages are permanently deleted from your Gmail account and can’t be recovered.

  1. In the Gmail app, touch the menu Menu.
  2. Touch Trash.
  3. At the top, touch Empty trash now.
Android 2.3

When you delete a message in the Gmail app for Android, the conversation is automatically archived and added to the Trash label.

To permanently delete a conversation from the Trash label, use the Gmail web app:

  1. Visit m.google.com in your mobile web browser to access the Gmail web app.
  2. From the Inbox, touch Menu.
  3. Select the Trash label.
  4. Select the conversations you'd like to delete.
  5. Touch Delete forever.

Learn More

Vivian is a Gmail expert and the author of this help page. Leave her feedback about this help page.

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