How to Quickly Archive or Delete Messages in iOS Mail

Swipe actions let you manage emails in seconds

iPhone on the dash of a car

The quickest way to archive or delete emails from the Mail app on an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad is to use a swipe motion. Below are detailed instructions on how to set up swipe to delete or swipe to archive.

The normal way to delete emails is fine in some situations, such as when you've already got the email open, but swiping is remarkably faster when you want to quickly delete or archive email after email from any folder in Mail.

Archiving means to send the message to the account's archiving folder, which is away from the Inbox but not in the Trash folder (you can still get it later). However, trashing an email sends it to the Trash folder.

How to Set up Swipe Delete/Archive

There should already be swipe actions set on your device, but if swiping an email doesn't do what you want it to, follow these steps to change what happens when you drag an email to the left or right:

  1. Open the Settings app.

  2. Go to Mail and then tap Swipe Options.

    If you're not using a modern version of iOS, this setting is called Mail, Contacts, Calendars.

  3. Select Swipe Left or Swipe Right, and then choose Trash or Archive. Repeat this step for the other swipe motion so that dragging the email either way will cause it to be archived or deleted.

    Swipe Options for Mail on an iPhone
  4. Tap the arrow at the top left of the screen and then press the home button to return to the home screen.

You should now be able to swipe all the way from the left to the right to archive or delete messages, and do the same the other direction for the other effect.

Swipe Action Tips for iOS Mail

The best time to use the swipe action you set up is when you're viewing a list of emails and you want to quickly decide what happens to them without actually opening them fully. However, this only works well if the email settings have been set to show previews. You can find that option in Settings > Mail > Preview.

You might have noticed in the settings for the swipe actions that you can also use a swipe motion to quickly mark an email as read, send it to spam, or move the email into a new folder.

You can still archive or delete an email from the single message itself, but swipe actions won't work within the message. Use the menu bar at the bottom of the email to delete it or move it to a new folder such as Archive.