How to change the way emails are deleted in Android's Gmail app

Android's Gmail app allows you to configure the act of deleting emails to either archive them, or permanently delete them. Jack Wallen shows you how.

Image: Jack Wallen

If your mobile email app of choice is Google's official Gmail app, then you might have found the management of deleted emails to not be of your liking. You are in either one of two camps:

  • When you delete an email, you want it permanently deleted.
  • When you delete an email, you want it archived--just in case.

There are pros and cons with each. If you delete an email, it won't sit around taking up space. On the flip side, if you do delete an email, it's gone for good. If, on the other hand, you archive an email, it's going to take up precious space on your Google account. However, if there comes a point when you need to access the information in that email, you can head over the archive and retrieve that necessary data.

If you comb through your archive, you'll probably be surprised at how much is there. If that's an issue for you, you'll be glad to know it's possible to change the default behavior on the Android app, such that Gmail no longer archives when you delete an email, but actually deletes it.

Or, if you're shocked to find out your archive is empty, you'll be relieved to know you can set that behavior such that deleting an email actually archives said email.

Let me show you how. I'll be demonstrating on an Essential PH-1 , using the most recent update of Google's Gmail app (on Android 7.1.1).

Configuring email deletion

The one caveat to this configuration is that you cannot configure it on a per-account basis. The deletion action is configured "app-wide," so when you set the option, it will apply to all accounts. Open up the Gmail app. Tap the menu button in the upper left corner (three horizontal lines), and then tap Settings. Within the Settings window, tap General settings. In the resulting window (Figure A), tap Gmail default action.

Figure A

Figure A

The Gmail General settings window.

In the resulting popup (Figure B), select either Archive or Delete, whichever suits your needs.

Figure B

Figure B

Your choice...archive or delete.

Once you've made your selection, back out of the settings window and into the Gmail app. You are good to go. Just remember, this configuration will apply to all of the accounts you have within the Gmail app.

Your choice

Don't let that account fill up. Or don't lose important data simply because you have an itchy delete finger. Whether you need to permanently remove read emails or archive them, Gmail has you covered with a simple setting.

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By Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic, The New Stack, and Linux New Media. He's covered a variety of topics for over twenty years and is an avid promoter of open source. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen....