What Does the "Archive" Button Do in OS X Mail?

Dictionary of the Frisian Language - Word archive. © Hindrik Sijens; CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license

The "Archive" button will move messages to a specific folder in OS X Mail.

A Button, Yay, But What Will It Do?

You have found a button in Apple's OS X Mail called Archive; curious to click, you are even more curious to find out what lies behind this command before you click and commit?

Fortunately, finding out what the Archive button and command will do is easy—and nothing irrevocable or harmful will happen to emails to which you apply the treatment.

Find Out What the "Archive" Button Will Do in OS X Mail

To know what archiving will do to an email in OS X Mail:

  1. Realize the Archive button and selecting Message | Archive from the menu will move the selected message or thread to the account's archiving folder.
    • OS X Mail will automatically use any folder called "Archive" for archiving.
    • If no archiving folder exists for the account, OS X Mail will automatically create a new folder called "Archive" when you first archive a message using the toolbar, menu or an archiving keyboard shortcut.

To find the archiving folder for an account in OS X Mail:

  1. Make sure the folder list is visible.
    • Select View | Show Mailbox List from the menu in OS X Mail if it is not.
  2. Look for the Archive folder under Mailboxes.
    • The Archive folder bears the same icon as the Archive selected messages button in OS X Mail's main toolbar.
    • The Archive folder under Mailboxes collects all your account's archiving folders:
      • If you have but one account (or just one account with an archiving folder configured), you will see just a top-level Archive folder.
      • With multiple accounts' archiving folders set up, they will appear as sub-folders to the Archive folder named like their accounts.