How to use archive and trash simultaneously in the iOS 8 Mail app

One of the main reasons I've used third party mail apps such as Mailbox for such a long time is because the stock iOS Mail app has never made it easy to use archive and trash simultaneously. Sometimes I don't want to archive an email, I want to delete it. And other times I want to archive but not delete. If I can't have both options conveniently at my fingertips, that doesn't work for me. Luckily, iOS 8 brings swipe options that actually let archive and trash play nice together for the first time. You've just got to change a few settings first!

Note: All email services are different but this method should work with any service that lets you have the choice between trashing and archiving messages. I've tested it and have been using Mail this way with both a Google Apps account (Gmail) and an iCloud account since early betas of iOS 8. So I can verify Gmail and iCloud work well with the below method.

How to use trash and archive options at the same time in iOS 8 Mail

  1. Launch the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap on Mail, Contacts, Calendars.
  3. Tap on any of your accounts that you want to use trash and archive options with under the Accounts section — if you're using iCloud mail, scroll to the bottom instead and tap on Mail under Advanced and skip to step 5.
  4. Tap on Account at the top.
  5. Tap on Advanced at the bottom.
  6. Under Mailbox Behaviors, make sure you have options set for Deleted and Archived boxes to where you want them.
  7. Under the Move Discard Messages Into section, choose Archive.
  8. Tap Account at the top to return to the previous menu.
  9. Tap Done at the top of the next screen to save any changes.
  10. Tap the back button in the upper left corner to return to the previous menu.
  11. Tap on Swipe Options under the Mail section.
  12. Set Swipe Right to Archive.

While this seems a little funny, it does work. You'll notice when you choose Archive, a small note will appear underneath that reads —

Accounts that include Archive as a default action for swiping left will offer Trash for swiping right.

This means that since we've set up archive as the default option in step 7, choosing archive for swipe right will actually allow it to become a trash option instead. This means swiping right offers trash functionality now and swiping left offers archive options. Voila! You can now use both in one quick swipe in one direction or the other!

Give it a try and let me know how it works for you! Does it make the default Mail app for useable? Let me know in the comments!

iMore senior editor from 2011 to 2015.

60 Comments
  • THANK YOU!!!!
  • Great Tip Ally! Just what I've been looking for
  • It's great, but it also works without the first few steps of moving discarded messages into archives. Just set the swipe right to Archive and the swipe left become Trash by default.
  • Not if you don't have boxes specified. Yes most will but different account types sometimes don't, so better to cover it completely than go halfway and have some folks experience issues. Sent from the iMore App
  • Ok, I understand and I thank you very much for your reply. What I meant to say was that the trick will work without step 7. Without step 7, swipe right archives and swipe left trashes. Step 7 just reverses that. My first comment was just utterly confusing though.
  • Great Tip, but what would be better is if Apple just gave us some choice. For instance, I would like to never use Archive. I don't like the concept, and I have no use for "archiving" things. I want things to either be there or I want to delete them. On another note, the only two functions I perform with my email over and over again many times a day are "Delete" and "flag as Junk" (I get a LOT of junk mail). However in Apple's new iOS mail app, it's even HARDER to do this now. Delete is still there, but I use the Junk filter more, and now to mark something as junk, I have to drill down a couple of menus on each item, one by one. And what (the f*ck), is "Flag" all about? Why is it so prominent? I have no use for it. I have never wanted to "Flag" anything in my email, ever. I have never wanted to "star" anything either? They should at least give us the option of turning this stuff off.
  • Uh, you can disable Archiving, and set Mail.app to trash messages instead. For iCloud:
    Settings > iCloud > Mail (under 'Advanced') > Advanced > Deleted Mailbox (under 'Move Discarded Messages Into'). Swipe right, tap 'Done'. For Gmail/Exchange:
    Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendar > Gmail/Exchange > Account > Advanced > Deleted Mailbox (under 'Move Discarded Messages Into'). Swipe right, tap 'Done'. As for marking multiple emails as Junk (also works for deleting):
    Tap Edit (top right), tap all messages you deem as junk, tap Move, tap Junk/Delete. Flagging is the ability to track messages or emails that you deem as important without them cluttering your inbox. Examples include bank/credit card statements, order invoices, communications with an Apple Advisor on an issue, etc. You can also use it to mark messages "for later". E.g. I use it to save coupon codes I might want to use in the future. These messages reside in my Archive. I can also access them without searching, which would take more time. Open Settings.app, tap Mail, Contacts, Calendar, tap Swipe Options (under 'Mail'), tap Swipe Left. Change to 'Mark as Read' (you'll need to change the Swipe Right option to something else first), or None to disable. The 'star' function is to mark Senders you deem as important. This can be your family, or boss, or your friend. Messages from 'Starred' Senders (aka VIPs) are able to have custom notification settings. Disabling it = not 'starring' any Senders.
  • Good post! Did the gmail/Exhange on all my gmail accounts and now swipe left at least brings up trash. Goodness I've no idea why Apple, the "It just works" company makes this so hard. You'd think they' just provide tons of different swipe options instead of providing no "delete" and then making you jump through hurdles and hope a benevolent poster on imore posts a shortcut.
  • They did provide swipe options. Hence why there is a menu for Swipe Options in Mail settings.
  • No, "delete" or "trash" is not an option. The only options are "None", "Marke as read", "Flag" and "archive." regardless, they should have it just as swipe right is delete. That's what I want.
  • Like Ally said, and like in the picture; swipe right to delete can be done. Just set the swipe right option to Archive. Since accounts may have archive already enabled by swiping left, iOS is smart enough to make swipe right to delete/trash messages.
  • Derrick makes a very valid point. There is no rhyme or reason why options for one function should be spread out all over the iPhone. it's either a swipe option or it is not. To go to swipe options and meet a dead-end until you check a forum or Apple tutorial and realize the "trash" and "junk" swipe options, for example, are actually embedded in a conceptual settings adjustment; why, because it does not belong in the same menu as flag or archive? This is redundant and disappointing, it's borderline to be put in the bug category it's just so incomprehensibly rediculous.
  • I use google apps for work but get an error message whenever I try to archive ("message could not be moved to mailbox Archive). I've even tried troubleshooting it with Google support, and still no luck. Ever heard of this problem?
  • Any idea how to delete messages by the load instead of individually while in the inbox?
  • See my reply to Mr. Grey above, fourth paragraph.
  • Odd thing is that’s not working for me.
    All Inboxes > Edit > Mark All > …..
    At which point the only choices I get are;
    1. Flag.
    2. Mark as Read.
  • Like I (and shakeitsalome below) said, tapping Mark All won't work. You have to tap the multiple messages you want to delete, then tap Move, then tap Trash.
  • Sorry, I read it wrong.
    You put ‘Also works for deleting’.
  • Ah I see your point. I should've put the word 'manually' or 'individually' after the first comma in that paragraph.
  • Tap "Edit" on the top right corner, then select the ones you want to delete. That's the only way I know of.
  • Yes the new features make it closer to using both at the same time. But if you enable archive, then that is your only option when you swipe left in Notification Center (or use actionable notifications). I agree with previous poster. I would rather just delete, and set swipe right as archive.
  • This is awesome .. I was struggling with this since few days now. Didn't knew how to figure out the swipe to Trash option. Thanks a lot !!!!! .... You guys rock ...
  • Thank you very much, this helps a lot! Could you please explain the differences between having certain settings like trash, be set to "on phone" vs "on server"? Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • I talked to a Support Advisor from an Apple Authorised Reseller once on this, and they told me that if you select the 'on Phone' option, the changes you make are not propagated to the Server. (ie. any changes you make are only local to your device; trashing an email on your device, does not trash the email on the server)
  • There are 2 ways in which you can use mail on any computing device (phone or computer, e.g.). You can use it as a front-end to the server-based mail (typically this uses the IMAP protocol), or you can use it as your e-mail repository, where the server holds it temporarily (this uses POP3 and SMTP protocols). Now, I would advise specifically on mobile devices to use IMAP, but I also use that on my computers. (My wife prefers to have all her e-mails on her computer, and deleted from the server after she downloads.) This will reduce the amount of storage needed, and allow you to keep your e-mails further back in history. Long story short - same concept with trash - if you keep them on the server, and you trash a message, then if you use that e-mail account from other devices, they share the server data. Personally, I use multiple computers and my phone, so I like to have my e-mail wherever I log in from. And, I like to keep the amount of data downloaded on my drive to a minimum. I highly recommend to use IMAP and server storage for Sent Items, Trash, etc.
  • Thanks to you both!! Sent from the iMore App
  • Very convenient thanks.
  • AWESOME!!!!! I stopped using MailBox app because the iOS app got good, but that one thing about my GMail account bugged the heck out of me. Until now! Great find, because the UI on it is misleading. Thanks again.
  • Great tip Sent from the iMore App
  • I think, sadly, it looks like this does not work if you're using an Exchange account. :-(
  • It works for me with my two exchange accounts (Office 365). In advanced settings, you will only see 'move discarded messages into:' - for this, choose Archive Mailbox. You still need to follow the steps - on the first page of the Mail settings under 'Swipe Options'. I set 'Swipe Left' to Flag, and changed 'Swipe Right' to Archive. Swiping right is now Trash, and swiping left offers More, Flag and Archive (if you short swipe) and instantly Archives if you long swipe. Sent from the iMore App
  • I've gone through all these steps but I am still unable to use with Google Apps for Work & Exchange. When I try to swipe to archive I get the "unable to move message" notification. It's irritating me!
  • I get the same exact error message. Did you ever find a solution for this?
  • no -- I'm still annoyed -- have gone through all the steps carefully and still nothing ....
  • Seriously why doesn't swipe left just delete by default like it does in every other app? Most people aren't archiving their mail. They either leave it or delete it.
  • I Delete or Archive all the time, and Flag sparingly, so this is awesome for me. Like what Ally said, it was the only reason I didn't like using the default mail.app for my iCloud and Gmail accounts. Now I can get a fast and consistent user experience across all my email accounts (including Exchange) in one app, and I can dump OWA too! Sent from the iMore App
  • that's fine, but most people don't. they read the mail and keep it or delete it. They aren't spending time organizing email. apple's mail is a system for the few power emailers. It's the opposite of "it just works".
  • My deleted mailbox is set to deleted messages on the server. Should it be set to trash on the device?
  • I asked about this a few posts up and got great responses! Sent from the iMore App
  • Great tip, thanks!
  • Thank you. Much more useable now. Sent from the iMore App
  • Don't really need this, but awesome tip.
  • Thank you, I kept wondering why Gmail don't have an option to delete emails.
    This fixed it.
  • Perhaps I'm missing something here. The option to choose whether to archive or delete has been around for a long time. When viewing the email message, instead of tapping the Archive button, press & hold tip bring up the option of deleting the message instead. When viewing the list of all messages in the email box, select the Edit button in the top right corner, then multi-select the messages you want tip delete, then once again press & hold the Archive button to be given the option to delete them.
  • Great find. Another advantage this has over Mailbox is that you can continuously delete while viewing the messages and not go back to the inbox list each time. Mailbox seems geared toward archiving all the time and iOS Mail wants you to do one or the other by default. This setup is great for people who want to either depending on the email.
  • I like the article (found it helpful). My screens looked a wee bit different .. maybe you were using a beta version of iOS 8? I like the swipe left feature to trash email. I am using Outlook and Gmail accounts for my email fix.
  • The problem here is that step (6.) is incorrect if using a Google Apps email account. In fact "Under Mailbox Behaviors, make sure you have options set for Deleted and Archived boxes to where you want them." doesn't even exist in advanced options. "Move Discarded Messages into:" does exist, but that's the only option. This option does exist if I select my iCloud email account, but not with Gmail (Google Apps). In fact, just plain old "Archive" will not work with a Google Apps Gmail account in iOS 8 mail. I have "Archive" setup for the left-swipe instead of "Mark Read/Unread" and when I archive a message I get the message of "Unable to Move Message. The message could not be moved to the mailbox Archive".
  • Allyson, not sure if you realize it, but this is still a real problem in iOS 8. No matter how I configure my iPhone 6 to Archive in Gmail (swipe left or swipe right) or whether Settings is configured for "Move Discarded Messages Into" (Trash or Archive)...the same thing happens. The message is not moved to Gmail "All Mail" and here is the screenshot I get every time I try to Archive a message - http://take.ms/Aet7H
  • I've gone through all these steps but I am still unable to use with Google Apps for Work & Exchange. When I try to swipe to archive I get the "unable to move message" notification. Does anyone have a solution?
  • I have the same problem as lifeofwilde-using google apps, ios8, and cannot move to archive folder
  • work round at the moment - use the gmail app on the iPhone. works a treat but means i need to check BOTH the gmail app and my apple mail...
    https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/gmail/bWuAZrWlYd0
  • This is obviously a problem for people. Apple should have put all swipe options in the swipe options. Simple, zen, getting on with the day now. Instead, it's doing exactly what Microsoft used to do, make things redundant and weird to figure out.
  • Excellent thanks. I wanted exactly this. I sat for hours messing around and only had the archive option when I wanted archive and delete both as quick actions. Before I read this I have been messing around selecting menus to be able to delete and it's such a waste of time. Thanks for posting the instructions for this, they were well written, easy to follow and in a couple of minutes I was set up.
  • Yes this doesn't work with exchange; I also get the "unable to move message" when I try to archive. Any solution to this?
  • Wow thank you Ally! I've been looking for this exact thing. Awesome.
  • Well, I didn't see how that was going to work, but it did! Thanks.
  • Great reply to deleting emails with 8.3 OS. Thanks.
  • The archive option is for Google. They want all your data for historical use. They try to hide delete... and make it confusing.. it was same issue on the andriod phone... F Google... i hate them now. They try to do anything to keep your data and track you... I.E. My andriod phone did same issue with not being able to choose delete easily... Also on Andriod, you have to manually turn on GPS to use map... But if I shut down map, GPS stays up... Google loves that, and its not a mistake or an accident.. Its convoluted for a reason.... RAGE:Wake Up
  • Brilliant. Thanks so much. Exactly what I wanted