If you use Apple’s Mac mail app, occasionally you may find that your deleted email is not going to the trash folder (i.e. the emails you delete don’t go in the ‘trash mailbox’ as Apple calls it). Or you do an email-wide search, and while your trash is included in your search, it’s not turning up that email that you know you just deleted. Here’s one reason that deleted mail messages may not be in your trash folder in Mac mail.
In all likelihood, the issue is with one of two settings (or both) being re-set (perhaps by an update). Here’s how to check.
From the Mac Mail app menu, select Preferences
In Preferences, select Accounts
Once in the Account section, go to the Mailbox Behaviors section
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Now, the first thing to determine is whether the little checkbox next to ‘Move deleted messages to the Trash mailbox’ is checked or not.
Here is the part that isn’t clearly spelled out, and so may be unobvious to some: if ‘Move deleted messages to the Trash mailbox’ isn’t checked – what do you think happens to the messages when you hit ‘delete’? They are gone for good! Instead of going to the Trash mailbox, they are instantly vaporized (well, ok, not really, but the digital equivalent of instant vaporization).
So, make sure that ‘Move deleted messages to the Trash mailbox’ is checked.
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The next thing to check is the interval which you have set for Mail to permanently erase deleted messages.
Your options are never, one day old (i.e. after 24 hours), one week old (after one week), one month old (after one month), or whenever you quit the Mail program.
Both ‘one day old’ and ‘Quitting Mail’ can result in email that you have deleted disappearing permanently rather quickly. We use ‘Never’, and that’s what we recommend, because it’s better to be safe than sorry, and you can always go into your Trash folder and delete everything from it permanently whenever you like.
Bear in mind – and this is very important – the ‘Permanently erase deleted messages when’ settings only take effect if you have ‘Move deleted messages to the Trash mailbox’ checked!
In fact, if you haven’t checked ‘Move deleted messages to the Trash mailbox’, then you are not able to access the ‘Permanently erase deleted messages when’ settings at all.
If you have Mac Mail checking more than one email account, be sure to look at these settings for all of your accounts.
We have found that these two items – ‘Move deleted messages to the Trash mailbox’ and ‘Permanently erase deleted messages when’ – having been reset are among the most likely causes of deleted email not going to the Trash folder. Fortunately, it’s very easy to fix.
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