How to Make Your Phone Delete Emails From POP Servers

Change your mail settings to sync your email across all your devices

IMAP synchronizes the email on your phone with the emails on the server. In contrast, POP downloads messages to the phone and leaves a copy on the server. If you use POP and want to remove the deleted messages from the server, either delete those messages again from a computer or change the email settings so that the server deletes mail after it downloads to your phone.

Instructions in this article apply to Gmail accounts specifically, but you can take similar steps for Outlook, Yahoo, and other email providers.

How to Keep or Delete Mail From POP Servers

To stop seeing the email you deleted from your phone on other computers or in the mail provider's web interface (or to make sure they aren't deleted when you delete them from your phone), do the following:

  1. On a desktop computer or laptop, open a web browser and go to Gmail.

    This will work in a mobile browser, but you must force the page to load the desktop version of the website to see the correct menu items and make the server changes.

  2. Select Settings (the gear icon in the upper-right corner of the page).

  3. Choose Settings.

    Settings in Gmail
  4. Select the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab, or use this link if you can't find it.

    Forwarding and POP/IMAP
  5. In the POP download section, select the When messages are accessed with POP dropdown arrow.

    When messages are accessed with POP in Gmail

    If you can't select this menu, choose one of the Enable POP options just above it.

  6. Choose one of these options:

    • Keep Gmail's copy in the Inbox: When an email is deleted from the phone, the message is removed from that device but remains in your account. The message stays on the server and can be accessed from any device.
    • Mark Gmail's copy as read: Deleted messages remain in your mail account, but the messages are marked as read. If you delete a message on your phone then open Gmail on a PC, the message downloads to the PC and is marked to show that you read the message on another device.
    • Archive Gmail's copy: Emails remain in your account when you download or delete them from your device. Delete emails are moved from the Inbox folder to an archive folder.
    • Delete Gmail's copy: Messages that download to your phone are deleted from the server. The mail remains on the device as long as it isn't deleted, but it won't be available online when you log in to Gmail from a computer or another device. Use this option when you're running out of available storage in your online account.
  7. Select Save Changes.

    Save Changes in Gmail Settings
  8. Emails on the server will now behave in the way you specified in Step 6.

Delete Emails From All Devices at Once

When you access email from a POP server, the email app can't make changes to the emails on the server. This is unlike IMAP, which controls the server emails from the device.

For example, if you use Gmail's POP servers on your phone and you chose to keep Gmail's copy in the Inbox, emails are downloaded to your phone and kept online. The messages are kept on your phone and on the server until you delete them. Even if you change Gmail's settings to make the POP server delete Gmail's copy from the server, the messages aren't removed from your device.

The only way to delete emails from all your devices at once is to set up each device with your provider's IMAP server. That way, you can log in to any device that has direct server access via IMAP (your tablet, phone, or computer) and delete emails there. When messages are removed from the server, every device deletes the locally stored emails when the device requests an update from the IMAP server.