How to Purge Deleted Messages in Windows Mail

Clean up your inbox by trashing your deleted mail folders

What the Recycling Bin is to Windows, the Deleted Items folder is to Windows Mail—unless you use an IMAP account, of course.

If you access your emails via the powerful and comfortable IMAP, messages you delete are not moved to a folder but marked for deletion. It makes deleting a speedy process and provides a safety net should you ever hit the Del key inadvertently. Emails marked for deletion are either crossed out or hidden from view.

Either way, the deleted messages are still there. Of course, it makes sense to get rid of them from time to time, or your Inbox will grow to enormous proportions despite your happily deleting (or moving) old mail. How's it done, though, there being no Deleted Items folder to empty?

Purge Deleted Messages in Windows Mail

To physically and finally delete emails marked for deletion in an IMAP account in Windows Mail, click the Purge Messages button in the toolbar.

(You can also select Edit | Purge Deleted Messages from the menu.)

Make Windows Mail Purge Deleted Mail Automatically

While the click on Purge Messages is easy, it is still a click — a superfluous click if you never undelete any emails and always purge them at once (which makes the click many, many clicks).

If that's you, let Windows Mail do the clicking and have it purge deleted messages automatically:

  • Select Tools | Options from the menu in Windows Mail.
  • Go to the Advanced tab.
  • Click Maintenance.
  • Make sure Purge deleted messages when leaving IMAP folders is checked.
  • Click Close.
  • Now click OK.

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