How to Delete an Email Message Without Opening It in Mail on Mac

Hide the preview pane when you want to delete suspicious emails

By default, Mail on Mac in Mac OS X and macOS displays email messages when you select an email in the message list. It also displays all the emails you select, even if you select messages for deletion. For privacy and security, however, you may not want previews of your emails. For example, opening a suspicious email may let the sender know that you opened it, confirming an active email address. Or, you don't want others to see your messages. Here's how to avoid such risks by disabling message preview in Mail on Mac, and delete an email without opening it.

Instructions in this article apply to Mail on Mac in OS X Tiger (10.4.x) and later.

Remove the Message Preview Pane

When you open Mail on Mac, by default, you see the Mail sidebar on the left of the Mail interface. (If you don't see this sidebar, select Mailboxes on the Favorites bar, which is beneath the toolbar.) When you select a mailbox in the Mail sidebar, each email message in that mailbox appears in a list, including the message's sender and subject, the date you received the email, and—depending on your settings—the first line or so of the email body.

The Mail on Mac interface

When you select an email in the messages list, the email opens in the message preview pane.

Mail on Mac Mail sidebar with preview

To hide the message preview pane in ​Mail on Mac, select the vertical line that separates the list of messages from the message preview, then drag the line to the right until the message preview pane disappears.​

Delete Emails Without Seeing Previews

To delete multiple emails from the messages list, select the message you want to delete, then press the Delete key.

To select multiple messages, press and hold the Command key while selecting messages. To select a range of messages, press and hold the Shift key, select the first message in the range, then select the last message in the range.

Bring the Message Preview Pane Back

To bring the message preview pane back, hover at the far right edge of the Mail interface until the cursor changes to a left-pointing arrow. Select and drag left to reveal the message preview.