How to Quickly Archive or Delete Messages in iOS Mail

Swipe actions let you manage iOS Mail emails in seconds

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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.

Information in this article applies to the Mail app on iPhones, iPads, and iPod touch devices running iOS 12, iOS 11, or iOS 10.

How to Set Up Swipe to Delete or Archive

Swipe actions may be set up 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.

  3. Select Swipe Right and choose Archive. Tap Back at the top of the screen. Then, tap Swipe Left and choose Trash.

    Swipe Options, Swiper Right, Archive in iOS Settings

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

  4. Tap the Home button to return to the home screen. If your device doesn't have a Home button, swipe up from the bottom of the screen to return to the Home screen.

Now that you've changed the Mail Settings, swipe from left to right in the Mail app to archive messages. To delete messages, swipe from right to left.

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, flag it, 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.