ARCHIVED: In Mac OS X, how do I get the Mail application to remove messages I delete?

Warning:
When mail is deleted from Mac OS X Mail, the messages go to the Trash folder as usual. However, messages deleted from this folder do not go to the Exchange retention area, and they are not recoverable. Additionally, mail that is hard-deleted via Option-Delete skips the Trash folder and also does not go into the retention area.

For IMAP accounts, Mac OS X Mail has two methods of handling deleted messages: moving them to a designated deleted items folder or marking and hiding them in the message index.

Moving deleted messages to a folder

Note: For accounts accessed in Exchange mode, this is the only option.

To configure OS X Mail to move deleted messages to a folder:

  1. From the Mail menu, select Preferences....
  2. In the preferences window, click Accounts.
  3. Click the name of the account for which you want to set a deleted messages folder.
  4. Click the Mailbox Behaviors tab, and in the "Trash" section, make sure that Move deleted messages to the Trash mailbox and Store deleted messages on the server are checked.
  5. In the pop-up menu underneath "Permanently erase deleted messages when:", select how often Mail will empty your deleted mail folder.
  6. Close the preferences window and click Save if prompted.
  7. Back in the mail viewer window, look for your list of folders. If you don't see it, from the View menu, select View Mailbox List or View Mailboxes. Click the folder you want to use as a deleted messages folder. From the Mailbox menu, select Use This Mailbox For or Use Selected Mailbox For and then choose Trash.

If you want to manually empty your deleted mail folder, from the Mailbox menu, select Erase Deleted Items or Erase Deleted Messages.

Hiding deleted messages within the same mailbox

To configure OS X Mail to hide deleted messages within the same mailbox:

  1. From the Mail menu, select Preferences....
  2. In the Mail preferences window, click Accounts.
  3. Select the account you wish to modify.
  4. Click the Mailbox Behaviors tab and uncheck Move deleted messages to the Trash mailbox.

Once you have made these changes, when you delete a message, Mail assigns a flag that removes it from the message index. It's still there, just not visible. To show all the messages you have deleted since you last compacted your mailbox, press Command-l (the letter l). To hide the deleted messages again, press Command-l.

Removing deleted messages

To completely remove those messages you have deleted, from the Mailbox menu, select Erase Deleted Items or Erase Deleted Messages. You can configure Mail to automatically compact your IMAP mailboxes when you exit the program by making the following configuration change:

  1. From the Mail menu, select Preferences....
  2. In the Mail preferences window, select Accounts.
  3. Select the account you want to modify.

    Note: If you have multiple accounts, you will need to make these changes for each one.

  4. Click the Advanced tab, and check Compact mailboxes automatically.
  5. Close the Mail preferences window, and when prompted, click Save.

This is document ajnk in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2012-12-05 00:00:00.

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