How to Delete Emails With a Keyboard Shortcut in Gmail

Use this keyboard combination to power through your inbox

person typing on laptop keyboard next to a cup of hot tea

StartupStockPhotos / Pixabay 

If you are spending too much valuable time in your Gmail inbox, use this quick method to assign unwanted messages to the trash quickly. You don't even have to open them first if you don't want to. You can delete single emails and multiple selected emails in Gmail with a quick keyboard shortcut.

Delete Button Not Working in Gmail

The bad news is the Delete key on your keyboard will not work to remove messages in your Gmail inbox. The good news is that you can use your keyboard to delete emails. The trick is knowing how to do it.

This Keyboard Shortcut Is Your Friend

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 at the top of the screen: The conversation has been moved to the Trash and will be permanently deleted in 30 days. 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.

    Screenshot of Settings gear in Gmail
  2. Select Settings from the menu. The Settings window will open.

  3. Select the General tab and scroll down to the Keyboard shortcuts section. Choose the radio button next to Keyboard shortcuts on.

    Screenshot of Keyboard Shortcuts in Gmail
  4. 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.