Guide to Deleting Mail Without Opening It in MacOS Mail

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The Mail application in Mac OS X and macOS conveniently displays messages automatically when you select them in the message list, but Mail also displays all the emails you select, even if you are selecting them for removal. 

There are valid privacy and security reasons why you may not want your emails to preview on your Mac. Among them is that opening a suspicious email may let the sender know you opened it, confirming an active email address. You may work with curious co-workers eager to read over your shoulder.  Avoid these concerns by adjusting the Mail application to hide the email previews.

Keep Your Email Private

When you open the Mail application, you probably see a Mailboxes panel to the far left of the screen. If not, a click on Mailboxes at the top of the screen opens it. Next to that, you see a list of the messages in the box. The brief information that is displayed in the list includes the sender, subject, date, and—depending on your settings—the beginning of the first line of text. Next to that is the large preview portion of the application. As you click on a single email in the messages pane, it opens in the preview pane.

To hide the message preview pane in ​Mac OS X and macOS Mail, you click on the vertical line that separates the list of messages and the preview pane and drag the line to the right all the way across the application screen until the preview pane disappears.​

Delete Emails Without Seeing Previews

To delete the chosen emails from the list of messages:

  1. In the message list, click on the message or messages you want to delete or move. Hold down the Command key while selecting emails with the mouse to highlight multiple emails. Hold down Shift and click on the first and last email in a range to select the two chosen emails and every email between them.
  2. Press Delete to remove all the highlighted emails in the list.

To get the preview pane back, position your cursor at the far right edge of the Mail screen. The cursor changes to a left-pointing arrow when you have it in the right place. Click and drag left to reveal the preview pane.