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How to delete email in the macOS Mail app

There are several ways to delete email in the macOS Mail app. But note that in order to delete a message from an email notification or with a swipe, the option "Move Discarded Messages" in View Settings in Mail must be set to Trash; Otherwise, the message is archived.

  Mac Mail Viewing Preferences Window

To delete a single email:

  1. Select an email address from a list and click the Recycle Bin icon in the menu bar.
  2. Select an email from a list and click the Move to box in the menu bar and select Move to Trash.
  3. Select an email from a list and press the Control button while clicking the mouse. A pop-up menu appears. select Delete.
  Mac Mail Screenshot Move to menu

If you are using a Mac with a trackpad, swipe left with two fingers and then click Trash or swipe all the way to the left until the message disappears.

To delete multiple messages at once:

select multiple messages by holding down the Shift button and clicking each one. Click the junk icon on the mail toolbar, or press the Delete key.

Want to see emails you've deleted? You can – well, maybe, depending on how you set options in Mail preferences. Open Mail and select Settings, and then click Accounts.

Select an account, click Mailbox Entry, and then check the Trash Mailbox setting.

  Mac Mail Accounts Pefences Screenshot

If a mailbox is specified, it can see deleted messages in the Recycle Bin Recycle Bin until they are permanently deleted. To retrieve a deleted message, drag it from the Recycle Bin to another mailbox.

If None is specified, deleted messages may remain temporarily in their original location but are dimmed or hidden. To view or hide them, if available, select View> Show Deleted Messages or View> Hide Deleted Messages.

To permanently delete email messages:

In the Mail app on your Mac, select Mailbox> Delete Deleted Items, and then select an account. You can also control a junk mailbox in the Mail sidebar, and then select Delete Deleted Items.

You can set the "Delete Deleted Messages" option in Mail Preferences to have Mail permanently delete deleted messages at a specific time: after a day, after a week, or after a month.

  Mac mail account settings screen showing deleted messages after a day.

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