How to delete an email from your iPhone with a single swipe!

Updated April 21st, 2020.

All this time I’ve been doing the Texas Two-Step when deleting iPhone Mail messages:

  1. First, I’d swipe from right to left in the email message list, exposing the Trash button (and others)
  2. Then, I’d tap the Trash button. See below.
Swipe left on the email message you want to delete...
Swipe left…
Tap the Trash button to delete the email message
Tap Trash button.

That seems pretty easy, but it turns out you can simply continue your Step 1 swipe all the way to the left edge of the screen to trash the message in a single step. Wow. You’ll see the big red Trash button grow to cover the entire message when your finger’s at the left edge, and if you let go the message will be deleted. (Change your mind? Don’t let go, and slide back to the right.)

Long swipe on the email message deletes it from your iPhone when you let go
Long swipe deletes the message in one move

With this tip, we’ve cut our work in half. This is my favorite way to delete a message when I know I don’t want to read it. Try it yourself and it will become your favorite way too. This method has been available since iOS 8 and I’m just now discovering it (or maybe re-discovering it– I forget sometimes). Anyway, now you know, and that’s the important thing.

BONUS: this “long-swipe” technique works on the iPad too.

NOTE: Gmail users, a long swipe may produce a blue bar with “Archive” in it instead of the red bar with “Trash.”

Gmail account on iPhone shows Archive option instead of Trash by default
Gmail, showing Archive option instead of Trash

If you’re happy with that, fine– don’t change anything. But if you’d rather delete a message than archive it, you’ll have to change one little setting. Don’t worry, it’s easy:

  1. Launch Settings
  2. Tap Mail, Contacts, Calendars
  3. Tap your Gmail account
  4. On the next screen, tap your Gmail account again
  5. At the bottom of that screen, tap Advanced
  6. Choose the “Deleted Mailbox” option
  7. Tap Accounts at top left
  8. Tap Done at top right

It should look like this when you’re choosing “Deleted Mailbox.”

Advanced setting, showing Deleted Mailbox selected.
Advanced setting, showing Deleted Mailbox selected.

Remember to do the last two steps in order to save your change. Very important.

That’s it.

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Copyright 2008-2023 Christian Boyce. All rights reserved.

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2 thoughts on “How to delete an email from your iPhone with a single swipe!

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  1. Enjoy your tip about the long swipe trashing of emails.
    What’s the secret for deleting emails that won’t stay in the trash?

    1. Well that’s an interesting question. What sort of account is it– gmail, yahoo,, something else? Does a deleted message pop back into the Inbox? Is it some emails in particular?

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