Why do I get an error trying to delete emails from my iPhone/iPad?

When trying to delete messages, have you received an error on your iPhone or iPad similar to the following:

"Unable To Move Message/The message could not be moved to the mailbox Trash"

By default, iOS attempts to delete IMAP email by putting it in the phones trash. This causes an error to come up saying that the messages could not be moved to the trash folder.

The fix is quite simple, just go to Settings -> Mail, Contacts and Calendars -> {then your email account} -> Advanced Then select "Deleted Mailbox". Then there is a section that says "On Server" you'll want to select the Trash box under the server. This will now let you remove email from an iPhone or iPod.

If you do not see a Trash folder in the above step, you will need to create one.

This setting only applies if you are connecting with IMAP.  This does not apply to POP3 connections.

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  • 0
    Carina Dickinson

    This worked for me:  using messages in my Outlook Account I moved the messages I couldn't delete from Outlook to my iCloud Message Account. I was then able to delete the unwanted messages in the trash folder under iCloud Account. I hope this helps as it is so annoying and Apple should sort it as it's also very time consuming.  Good luck. 

  • 0
    Egbert Hendriks

    All previous answers did not work for me. 

    I have gsuite / google apps paid account since that provides push mail.

    So none of the imap answers are very useful.


    What did help was 


    and specifically going to


    in your iOS device' browser.


    That brings up a (unknown) mobile sync settings menu that is, well, very well hidden.

    Tick the second checkbox Enable "Delete Email As Trash" for this device to on.

    Click save.


    Do this per device where this email account is used.


    To clear the local mail cache, go to settings / mail / your gsuite account. 

    delete the account. 

    When done, reboot the iOS device.

    After reboot, go to settings / mail / add account.

    Add the gsuite / google apps account by selecting EXCHANGE (see help page above).

    Add m.google.com as the server.

    User is your full email address.

    check your email / calendar / contacts / notes preferred settings.


    And all should be fine again. 

  • 0
    Mylien Pham

    Thanks, Carina! Your advice worked for me!

  • 0
    Anna Durrant

    Re Sean Gonsman remedial reply to the question 'Why do I get an error trying to delete emails from my iPhone/iPad'. How do I remove an old (May) email from my Hotmail (Outlook Exchange) inbox that I can't delete or move as I always get the error message that neither action can be made. Its POP3 connection (not IMAP as answer given relates to), on my iPad? However, subsequent emails can be moved &/or deleted! 

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