Delete Gmail Messages From Sent Mail, But Keep a Copy in All Mail

Clear your Gmail outbox without losing important messages

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In Gmail, there is a way to remove email from your Sent folder while keeping an archived copy in the All Mail folder. However, it's not possible to do this from the Gmail web interface. Instead, you must connect to your Gmail account from another email client via Internet Mail Access Protocol (IMAP).

Information in this article applies to the standard web version of Gmail.

How to Delete a Message from Sent Mail But Keep an Archived Copy in Gmail

To remove an email you sent from Gmail's Sent Mail folder while still keeping a copy under All Mail, drag the message from Sent Mail into a different Gmail folder. For example, you can do this if you link your Gmail account to Microsoft Outlook.

To remove an email you sent from Gmail's Sent Mail folder while still keeping a copy under All Mail, drag the message from Sent Mail into a different folder.

The next time you check your mail from the Gmail web interface, the message will be gone from your sent folder, yet you can still find it in the other folder. You can then search All Mail to find it in the future.

The next time you check your mail from the Gmail web interface, the message will be gone from your sent folder, yet you can still find it in the other folder.

Why Would You Delete an Email From Sent Mail But Keep an Archived Copy?

When you archive a message in Gmail, it is removed from your inbox, and a copy is kept in the All Mail folder for later reference. However, the only way to remove a message from your outbox is to delete it, which also removes it from All Mail. If you delete the message in the Gmail web interface under Sent Mail, it will be moved to the Trash folder and eventually disappear, even if you had previously archived it.

This workaround can come in handy for specific situations. For example, if you're using a corporate Gmail account that's been configured by an administrator to automatically purge Sent Mail items after a period of time, then you may want to keep an archived copy of your correspondences.

That said, if you do this with a Gmail account that's governed under specific document-discovery or data-retention policies, then you may run afoul of your company's policies or even the law. Check with your system administrator before you circumvent auto-purge mechanisms.