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Mail (Mountain Lion): Delete messages

Delete messages

By deleting messages you no longer need, you can free disk space on your Mac or on the mail server.

You can retrieve deleted messages if you haven’t emptied your Trash mailbox or rebuilt your mailbox since deleting the messages, or if Mail hasn’t permanently erased the deleted messages. Just drag the deleted messages to another mailbox.

Delete a message

Move the pointer over the message header in the preview, and then click the Delete icon that appears. Or select a message in the list, and then click the Delete icon in the Mail toolbar.

Deleted messages remain in the Trash mailbox on your Mac or on the mail server until they are permanently erased. Messages that are deleted from mailboxes you created on your Mac are moved to the On My Mac mailbox, located in the Trash mailbox.

Set where to store deleted messages

Choose Mail > Preferences, click Accounts, and then select an account. Click Mailbox Behaviors and in the Trash section, select where you want to store deleted messages until they are permanently erased.

If you deselect all options for an account, deleted messages remain in their original location and are shown dimmed or are hidden. To show or hide deleted messages, choose View > Show Deleted Messages or View > Hide Deleted Messages.

Permanently erase messages

You can have Mail permanently erase deleted messages after a specified amount of time, or you can erase them at anytime.

  • To have Mail remove them, choose Mail > Preferences, click Accounts, and then select an account. Click Mailbox Behaviors and in the Trash section, choose when you want Mail to permanently erase deleted messages.

    If you have an Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) account whose server is set up to delete older messages, messages are deleted regardless of how you set the option.

  • To erase deleted messages at any time, choose Mailbox > Erase Deleted Items, and then choose an account.
Last Modified: Apr 18, 2013
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  • Last Modified: Apr 18, 2013
  • Article: PH11732
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