Moving, Deleting, Marking Messages in iPhone Mail

Managing iPhone email
image credit: UpperCut Images/Getty Images

The Mail app that comes built into the iPhone gives you a lot of options for managing emails. Whether that's marking messages to follow up on later, deleting them, or moving them to folders, the options are plentiful. There are also shortcuts for many of these tasks that accomplish the same thing with a single swipe that would otherwise take multiple taps.

Read on to learn how to manage email messages on the iPhone.

Deleting Emails on the iPhone

The simplest way to delete an email on the iPhone is to swipe from right to left across the message you want to delete. When you do this, two things can happen:

  1. Swipe all the way from one side of the screen to the other to delete the email
  2. Swipe part way to reveal a Delete button on the right. Then tap that button to erase the message.

To delete more than one email at the same time, follow these steps:

  1. Tap the Edit button on the top right corner 
  2. Tap each email that you want to delete so that a checkmark appears to its left 
  3. When you've selected all the emails you want to delete, tap the Trash button at the bottom of the screen.

Flag, Mark as Read, or Move to Junk

One of the key things about effectively managing your email on the iPhone is to sort through all your messages to ensure you deal with the important ones. You can do that flagging messages, making them as read or unread, or favorite them.

To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the inbox that contains the messages to want to mark
  2. Tap the Edit button in the top right corner
  3. Tap each message you want to mark. A checkmark appears next to each selected email
  4. Tap the Mark button at the bottom
  5. In the menu that pops up, you can choose either FlagMark as Read (you can also mark a message that you've already read as Unread in this menu), or Move to Junk
    • Flag will add an orange dot next to the message to indicate that it's important to you
    • Mark as Read removes the blue dot next to the message that indicates that it's unread and reduces the number of messages shown on the Mail app icon on the home screen
    • Mark as Unread puts the blue dot next to the message again, as if it were new and had never been opened
    • Move to Junk indicates that the message is spam and moves the message to the junk mail or spam folder for that account.
  1. To undo any of the first three choices, select the messages again, tap Mark and choose from the menu that pops up.

There are also swipe gestures to perform many of these tasks, such as:

  • Flag—Swipe right to left a short distance to reveal three buttons on the right side. One of these is Flag (or Unflag, depending on the message's status). Tap it.
  • Mark as Read—Swipe right to left a short distance to reveal the three buttons and tap More. Then tap Mark and Mark as Read. 
  • Mark as Unread—Swipe left to right a short distance to reveal the Unread button at the left side. Tap it.
  • Move to Junk—Swipe right to left a short distance and tap More. Then tap Mark and then Move to Junk.

Setting iPhone Email Reply Notifications

If there's a particularly important email discussion going on, you can set your iPhone to send you a notification any time a new message is added to that discussion. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Find the discussion you want to be notified about
  2. Tap it to open the discussion
  3. Tap the flag icon in the bottom left
  4. Tap Notify Me...
  5. Tap Notify Me in the new pop-up menu.

Moving Emails to New Folders

All emails are stored in the main inbox of each email account (though they can also be viewed in a single inbox that combines the messages from all accounts), but you can also store emails in folders to organize them.

here's how to move a message to a new folder:

  1. When viewing messages in any mailbox, tap the Edit button in the top right corner
  2. Select the message or messages you want to move by tapping them. A checkmark appears next to the messages you have selected
  3. Tap the Move button at the bottom of the screen
  4. Select the folder you want to move the messages to. To do this, tap the Accounts button at the top left and select the correct email account
  5. Tap the folder to move the messages to and they'll be moved.

Recovering Trashed Emails

If you accidentally delete an email, it's not necessarily gone forever (this depends on your email settings, the type of account, and more).

Here's how you may be able to get it back:

  1. Tap on the Mailboxes button in the top left
  2. Scroll down and find the account that the email was sent to
  3. Tap the Trash menu for that account
  4. Find the message you accidentally deleted and tap the Edit button in the top left
  5. Tap the Move button at the bottom of the screen
  6. Navigate through your Mailboxes to find the inbox you want to move the message back to and tap the Inbox item. That moves the message.

Using the More Shortcut

While basically, every way to manage an email on the iPhone is available if you tap the message to read it, there's a way to use most of the features discussed in this article without opening the email. The More shortcut is powerful but hidden. Here's how to use it:

  1. Find the email you want to do something with
  2. Swipe slightly right to left, to reveal the three buttons at the right
  3. Tap More
  4. A pop-up menu appears from the bottom of the screen that lets you Reply and ​Forward messages, Mark them as unread/read or junk, set notifications, or Move the message to a new folder.