How to Purge Deleted Messages From IMAP in Outlook

Purge the trash and other IMAP email in Microsoft Outlook

If you delete a message in an IMAP account that's accessed through Outlook, it's not deleted right away and Outlook doesn't move it to the Deleted Items folder. Instead, these messages are marked for deletion and are sometimes hidden on purpose since you don't really need to see them. So, you have to purge the half-gone emails to delete them from the server.

Instructions in this article apply to Outlook 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, 2007, 2003; and Outlook for Office 365.

How to Purge Deleted Messages in Outlook

Here's how to set up Outlook to immediately and permanently delete messages marked to be expunged in IMAP email accounts:

For Outlook 2019, 2016, 2013, and 2010

  1. Go to Folder.

    Viewing folder options within Outlook.
  2. In the Clean Up group, select Purge.

    Viewing purging options within Outlook.
  3. Select Purge Marked Items in All Accounts to eliminate deleted messages from all IMAP accounts. Or choose to purge messages in a folder or email account.

  4. Select Yes to confirm the permanent deletion of emails.

    Confirming the permanent deletion of emails in Outlook.
  5. The messages are permanently deleted from Outlook.

For Outlook 2007

  1. Go to Edit.

  2. Select Purge.

  3. Select Purge Marked Items in All Accounts. Or choose to purge items for the selected folder or for an email account.

  4. Confirm that you want to delete emails.

For Outlook 2003

  1. Select Edit.

  2. Select Purge Deleted Messages to remove deleted items from the current folder.

  3. Click Yes.

How to Make a Ribbon Menu Item for Purging Emails

Instead of using the menu to delete messages, customize the ribbon menu to add a custom button.

  1. Right-click the Ribbon and choose Customize the Ribbon.

    Selecting to customize the ribbon in Outlook.
  2. In the Main Tabs section, select the menu tab where you want the new command to appear.

  3. Select New Group to display a listing labeled New Group (Custom).

    Creating a new group for ribbon customization in Outlook.
  4. Select Rename to give the group a customized name.

    Renaming the custom group in Outlook.
  5. Type a new Display Name and choose a Symbol for the custom button.

    Creating a name for the customize group and selecting an icon.
  6. Select OK.

  7. Select the Choose commands from dropdown arrow and select All Commands.

    Choosing all commands to view for customizing the ribbon in Outlook.
  8. Scroll down to Purge and select either Purge, Purge Marked Items in All Accounts, Purge Marked Items in Current Account, Purge Marked Items in Current Folder, or Purge Options.

  9. Select Add.

    Adding the purge all command to the customized ribbon menu.
  10. The command appears under the new group you made.

    Choosing to rename the newly added purge email command.
  11. Select OK.

  12. Your new shortcut appears on the Ribbon.

    The newly added shortcut for purging emails is now on the Outlook ribbon.
  13. Select the shortcut to permanently delete email messages.

What Happens If I Don't Delete These Emails?

If you don't delete these messages regularly, your online email account may collect too many of these yet-to-be-deleted messages and fill up your account. From the perspective of the email server, the messages still exist.

Some email accounts don't allow for much storage space. If you don't purge the deleted emails, you may quickly exceed your allowed storage and may be prevented from getting new mail.