New Gmail Archive and Delete

Don't worry, your ability to delete emails hasn't gone away

With the latest update to the new Gmail interface, Google has moved things around a bit -- unfortunately, it didn't give users much indication of how things changed. One of the big headaches that re-surfaced after the latest update was Google's differentiation between archiving and deleting emails, and what options are chosen to be available. We went through this with the last couple large updates to Gmail that introduced swipe-to-delete and actionable notifications, and we wanted to provide a quick refresher on how to manage your archive and delete options in the new Gmail interface.

If you haven't tweaked any settings previously, you'll be hard-pressed to find a delete option from any view of the Gmail app -- this unfortunately doesn't change in the latest update. Fortunately, this can be changed quickly and easily from the app settings, found by tapping "Menu", "Settings" and  then "General settings". The top setting, appropriately labeled "Archive & delete actions" controls which options will become available in the top action bar when you select emails from your inbox or a message view. You'll have three options -- archive only, delete only and archive & delete -- which are pretty self explanatory.

New Gmail Archive and Delete New Gmail Archive and Delete

This setting acts as a global control anywhere that the app would need user input to either archive or delete messages. For example when you multi-select messages from a list view, you will see either an archive icon, delete icon or both available in the top action bar. The same is true when you enter an individual email, when you swipe away an email from the inbox view, or when you expand an email notification on Jelly Bean devices. Your setting selection is applied to every part of the app -- so choose wisely here based on your own email retention habits.

Below we have a video breakdown of the whole process of changing archive and delete functions in the settings of the new Gmail interface.


Reader comments

How to change archive and delete actions in the new Gmail


you either don't have an android, or have a version lower than 2.3.X or don't have the latest gmail update even thou you do run android 4.0.X or higher.

I don't have it either. When I open Menu, Settings, General settings, there is no "Swipe to Delete" or "Swipe to Archive" listed. If it's not there, how can I select it? I have Gmail 4.0.4 running on my Motorola Xoom.

What's with recent "Gmail for dummies" acticles? Its a pretty basic app....not much to figure out there. If you can't use Gmail, TouchWiz is rocket science for you then... :)

Because not everyone is an Android expert. Read the comments above yours, this info has already helped some users & will many others, I'm sure.

A better question is why don't you just skip past this article since it is so beneath your obvious superior knowledge?

It doesn't take an expert to click on settings and figure this stuff out. It takes a mentally lazy idiot with no common sense to NOT figure it out. I can sum up this whole series of articles in two sentences.

Don't like how things look/work? Go into the ubiquitous Settings and see if you can change it.

Boom, done.

How about this..

AC is an android site and with no huge news, they have to keep content fresh. Gmail is part of the ecosystem and it went through a huge change.

It is the most write-worthy thing this week.

Sounds like someone is feeling touchy that he couldn't find the Settings button in Gmail...

It's not write worthy. ZTE announced new devices. Samsung has new devices coming. The Galaxy Zoom leaked. Sony announced a Google Experience device (which got one whole article compared to three on how to change Gmail settings). "How to find the Settings button in Gmail" isn't write-worthy, it's filler. Worse, it's stupid filler. If you can't figure that sort of thing out yourself, you shouldn't have a smartphone. Heck, you shouldn't have a computer, you'll probably break off the cup holder and spend half an hour looking for "Any Key" to continue. It's mind-numbingly stupid.

Do you think for one second that the one article that you saw on those products are the last? There is only so much you can write about with an announcement.

When they get actual hands on with those devices, I am sure we will hear more than enough.

This is hands on with a new UI. It should be covered in depth. Especially for the neophyte that may just do a google search on the topic. It is definitely not aimed at someone as wise and computer savvy as your unsophisticated a$$ is

I agree with some of the other comment-ors, if you don't want to read the article move on, why comment. People come to this site from a variety of backgrounds. I don't just come here to see announcement after announcement of the latest phones. Just this week my father, who is a very intelligent retired electrical engineer, called me about this same issue. I had given him a Tablet as a gift and so he is new to the whole Android ecosystem. If I weren't around this article could have really helped him as a newb to Android. I always help everybody without being condescending, and AndroidCentral is here for everybody not just the Android Elite. You were a newb at one time too. So if you don't like the channel change it, I am sure there is some other channel that will satisfy you, quit complaining about AC providing knowledge to everyone.

Actually the reason I read the article is because I thought maybe I missed something and it really is hard to find some hidden settings or something.

I actually like these articles. I kept accidentally deleting emails and then turned off the swiping feature after reading comments.

if you follow the comments you'll see that many wives are confused. This is mostly for all the wives out there and for the poor husbands who don't wanna take the time to explain to them cause they're busy not using Gmail.

Feature request: swipe to archive displays a delete option next to the undo option.

(When you swipe to archive, it leaves behind a grey box saying this conversation has been archived, along with an undo button. Add a delete button here to make deleting a swipe and a tap away (I like swiping)).

I'd like it if swiping brought out the folders. this would make it more similar to how YouTube does for the channels and others like Evernote does for other options.

To swype or archive I think it would be cooler to simply hold it then drag it either up or down to either delete or archive. This method is commonly seen when you delete a widget from the homescreen

Yep. Or swipe one way to archive, the other to delete. Give us options we can choose from at the time.

The only way to get delete to appear in notifications is to have the setting to 'delete only', which is disappointing, since there's really enough room to put both in the expanded notification. Maybe I'm alone in this, but I prefer to delete some emails when I can read the entirety of the content in the notification, and archive more important ones after I've read them in the app.

I agree there's room for delete there too - and would be nice to have it.

I'd gladly compromise and replace reply with delete if I had to...archive/delete are much more common for me, personally, than reply...especially on my phone. I tend reply to emails on my PC unless it's a short sentence or two.

THANK YOU! Now if we just had an option to go back to the simple boxes at left for multi-select AND regain screen real-estate.

How come on some screen shots that I've seen of the new GMail UI that the label names (notifications, social, etc) are in color? Mine are greyed out. How do you change that?

Thank you so much for this video. I was so pissed when the delete was taken away. Now all is well again in my gmail world.

Archiving is a Gmail standard and has always been Google's preferred action. It was one of the touted features when Gmail was introduced years ago.

Google's mentality: We give you all kinds of space, so now you don't have to delete email... Just archive it so you can retrieve/review it years from now if you need to.

You can always change the settings so that archiving takes a back seat. With 15GB of free storage, though, I don't see why anyone would need to.

I've been swiping to get them off my phone. A wonderful feature from the glory (not really) days of webOS :-)

I agree with this entirely. There should be no questions for things like this. If it needed an explanation it was obviously not intuitive enough.

There's a flaw here, or at the very least something off with my version of Gmail. When I go to General Settings -> Archive & delete actions and select "Show archive & delete" I lose the ability to swipe to delete *the menu automatically changes to "swipte to archive"). Can anyone tell me how I can swipe to delete and still see both archive and delete options when I have multiple emails selected? Can't get that to work so far.

What I would like to know is why it won't let me select multiple emails to delete unless I have the sender image on. I try to select and it goes right into the email unless I have the sender images on.

What I don't like is that Swipe to Archive will keep the message as Unread, which means it shows up as a number in parenthesis next to my Inbox. I hate seeing this because then I think I have unread mail that I still have to read.

Is there a way to get Swiping to Archive to mark the message as read? For example, Facebook notifications or other short notifications can be read right from the header info... I just want to archive it after that.. and not see it as unread.

I think I have an even newer version of Gmail. I have no archive icon even though I have archive and delete selected in the settings. Can anyone help me?

DUDE!!! THAT'S WHAT I WANT!!! I want it deleted NOT archived! uuuuuuuuuugh. Wtf why can't i just delete my stupid email. I know this is an android site, but I have an iPhone. Apples forums suck balls. The people there are idiots and don't know anything. >.>

This is all fine and dandy....IF YOU HAVE AN ADROID! I have been spending the alst hour googling this shit trying to find a way to PERMANENTLY delete this f***ing crap off my goddamn phone. All I want, is to delete. Not archive. Not move. DELETE my freaking email off my iPhone. I can't even delete it from my laptop. And trust me, I'm fairly computer savvy. I have gone into the settings and run around in circles trying to figure this shit out and I can't. Has google/gmail just gotten rid of that COMPLETELY? That's just stupid if they did. It's pissing me off. I don't want to archive it. I just want it f***ing gone. Is that too much to ask? Like seriously? IF IT AIN'T BROKE DON'T F***ING FIX IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh and btw.....the apple forums are useless. No body there knows wtf they're talking about.