How to Quickly Archive or Delete Messages in iOS Mail

Swipe actions let you manage iOS Mail 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. The normal way to delete emails is fine in some situations, such as when the email is open. However, swiping is faster when you want to delete or archive multiple emails from any folder in Mail. Here's how to set up swipe to delete and swipe to archive.

How to Set up Swipe to Delete or Archive

There are 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, 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, then choose either Move, Flag or Archive. Repeat this step for the other swipe motion so that dragging the email either way causes it to be archived or deleted.

    Swipe Options, Swiper Right, Archive in iOS Settings

    Email accounts that have Archive as an option for swiping left will offer Trash (in addition to other options) for swiping right.

  4. Tap the arrow in the upper-left corner of the screen.

  5. Tap the home button to return to the home screen.

To archive or delete messages, swipe from the left to the right to archive or delete messages. Swipe from right to left for the other effect.

Archiving sends a message to the 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.

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 the messages without opening them. However, this only works if the email settings have been set to show previews. You'll find this option in Settings > Mail > Preview.

In the settings for the swipe actions, 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 archive or delete an email from the message itself, but swipe actions don'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.