How to Delete or Move Email in Bulk on an iPhone

Illustration of red email envelope in garbage can

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It's easy to delete email when you only want to remove a few, but deleting several at once can become annoying unless you do it in bulk, especially when you're on a smartphone. The same goes for moving messages -- you can move dozens at once by selecting more than one at a time.

Whether it is an assortment of spam you want to move to the junk folder or the multitude of newsletters that are cluttering your inbox, iOS makes it pretty simple to move or delete more than one message at a time.

Move or Delete Messages in Bulk With iOS Mail

  1. Tap one of your email accounts in the Mail app to open its inbox.

  2. Tap Edit at the top right of the screen.

  3. Tap on all the messages you want to move or delete. Make sure the blue check appears on the side of the message so that you know for sure that it's selected.

  4. Scroll down to click on more messages. Tap on the message once more if you want to deselect it.

  5. In iOS 12, you'll see Move and Archive at the bottom of the screen. Tap and hold the Archive button to bring up the Trash option.

    Three screens showing Edit, Archive, and Trash Selected Messages buttons in iOS Mail app

    In earlier iOS versions, you can choose Trash at the bottom of the screen to send those messages to the trash.

  6. Your messages should be in the Trash now.

To move them, choose Move and then select a folder where they should go. To mark the message as spam, you can also use Mark > Move to Junk.

You can delete every message in a folder at once if you'd rather not deal with selecting each message individually unless you are running iOS 11. In an unpopular move, Apple removed the Delete All option from the Mail app.

How to Move or Delete Email Automatically

The Mail app on iOS does not let you set up email filters. A filter, in this context, is a rule that applies to incoming messages to automatically do something with them, like delete them or move them to a different folder.

The filtering options available by some email providers are accessible from the email account. You can log in to that email service through a web browser and set up those rules up, so they apply on the email server. Then, when an email is automatically moved to an "Online Orders" or "Family" folder, for example, those same messages are moved to those folders in the Mail app.

The technique for setting up email rules is a little different for each email provider. It can be relatively simple to set up filters in Gmail or in Yahoo! by taking just a few minutes in the email settings.