How to Delete Emails With a Keyboard Shortcut in Gmail

Use this keyboard combination to power through your inbox

What to Know

  • Press Shift + 3 to delete an email.
  • If that doesn't work, check that keyboard shortcuts are enabled in Settings > See all settings > General > Keyboard shortcuts.

Here's how to send unwanted email messages to the trash quickly in Gmail with a quick keyboard shortcut.

Deleting With a Keyboard Shortcut

Select the email or emails you want to delete by checking the box to the left of each one in your Inbox or any other Gmail mailbox. Press the Shift + 3 keyboard shortcut. That's it. The emails are history.

You can also open an email first if you need to see what is inside and then use the Shift + 3 shortcut. Poof! It's gone.

Either way, you see this notice: Conversation move to Trash. So, if you make a mistake, you know where to go to find a mistakenly deleted email.

However, this shortcut only works if keyboard shortcuts are turned on in Gmail's settings.

How to Turn on Keyboard Shortcuts in Gmail

If the Shift + 3 shortcut doesn't delete emails for you, you likely have keyboard shortcuts turned off. They are turned off by default in Gmail.

 Activate Gmail keyboard shortcuts with these steps:

  1. In the upper right of the Gmail window, click the Settings gear icon.

    The Settings gear in Gmail highlighted
  2. Select See all settings.

    The "See All Settings" button in Gmail highlighted
  3. Select the General tab.

    The General tab in Gmail settings
  4. Scroll down to the Keyboard shortcuts section. Choose the radio button next to Keyboard shortcuts on.

    Gmail General settings with the "keyboard shortcuts on" option highlighted
  5. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Save Changes. Now the Shift + keyboard shortcut is active for deleting emails.

More Gmail Keyboard Shortcuts

With keyboard shortcuts enabled in Gmail, you have access to a vast selection of shortcut options. You won't be able to memorize them all, so explore which keyboard shortcuts are most useful to you and put them to work.

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