Most of us have emails that we would like to get rid of from our inbox forever. However, there are times when you delete an email only to have it reappear among your messages, leaving you dazed.
There is a reason for this, and it is directly related to the email setup.
We’ll explain if an email on an iPhone or iPad deletes it on the server and how your setting affects the whole process.
Email Protocols and How They Work
Email systems use three main email protocols – IMAP, POP, and SMTP – to move email from your device to the intended recipient’s device.
IMAP, or Internet Mail Access Protocol, is used when receiving email and allows you to access your email from any device and from anywhere. When you receive an email on your iPhone or iPad via IMAP, you will be reading it from the email service, rather than downloading or saving it directly to your device.
However, when you click on an email, it will download to your iPhone / iPad, but no attachments will be downloaded automatically. This will help you save storage space and check your messages faster.
As a result, IMAP stores your email messages on the server after you view them, so they can be accessed by you from another platform at any time. As a two-way communication protocol, IMAP also ensures that any changes you make to your email client are synchronized with the server.
This way, you don’t have to worry about losing important emails if you deleted a message and want to restore it, or if your device is stolen or jailbroken. It also helps you find specific messages faster using keywords.
You will need a stable internet connection if you want to access email stored on a remote web server. Also, if you’ve used up your Gmail storage space, you may not be able to send or receive emails.
POP or Post Office protocol is also used for incoming emails, but unlike IMAP, which doesn’t download or store your emails on your device, POP downloads the entire email message to your iPhone or iPad and deletes it from the mail server after downloading.
If you have a server with limited free memory, then POP comes in handy. However, you can only access the email from the same device you downloaded it to, so if you try to access it from another device, the emails will not be available.
The latest version, POP3, allows you to download emails to your device and read them offline, while reducing the space your email account takes up on the web server.
The difference between IMAP and POP3
Both protocols are used for inbound mail and mail clients to retrieve your messages from mail servers, regardless of whether you are using a web application or a client application. However, POP3 is a one-way inbox protocol that stores your emails on your devices and removes them from your web server mailbox. On the other hand, IMAP is a two-way protocol that stores email on a remote web server rather than on your device.
POP3 is ideal if you are using one device to access your emails and want to view them offline. It is also useful if you want to free up space in your mailbox when it is nearly full. On the other hand, IMAP is useful when you want to free up device storage and access your email messages from any device or from anywhere.
POP3 does not sync the contents of online and offline mailboxes, which means that you can lose all saved messages if your device breaks or is lost. If you already notice that some of your emails are not in your Inbox and you haven’t deleted them, one of your devices may be using the POP3 protocol. You can fix this by taking a backup of your email and resetting your email account as IMAP.
SMTP, or Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, processes outgoing email. When you send an email, this is the protocol that comes into play. POP or IMAP protocols process incoming emails. SMTP works with a message transfer agent to send the email to the correct address. Plus, it filters any messages that go through it and regulates the number of messages your account can send in a given period of time.
Does deleting an email from my iPhone / iPad remove it from the mail server?
If you delete an email from iPhone / iPad using POP3 protocol, it will be permanently deleted from your device. Because when you originally downloaded the email on your iPhone / iPad it was deleted from the server, if you try to find it on the mail server after deleting it on your iPhone / iPad you won’t find it there .
On the other hand, if your device uses the IMAP protocol, then the email message is not stored on your iPhone / iPad, but on the mail server. Thus, if you delete an email on your iPhone / iPad in this case, the original version of the email will still remain on the server. This explains why you will still see deleted emails on your iPhone / iPad if you are using the IMAP protocol.
How IMAP works for popular email services
The two most popular email services used on iOS devices are the default email app and the Gmail app Next, we will explain how the email deletion process works on your iPhone / iPad with these two apps using the IMAP protocol.
If you’re using the default email app, you can tap on the trash can icon or swipe to delete the email. It doesn’t get rid of email entirely; instead, it is archived and a copy is stored in the All Mail folder on the server.
However, you will not see the deleted email in your inbox, but you can restore it if you accidentally deleted it and want to return it.
To delete an email permanently, go to the All Mail folder and delete it from there. Alternatively, you can go to your device’s settings and change how this swipe works by tapping Settings> Accounts & Passwords.
A list will appear with all the accounts on your device. Select the account you want to edit.
Then scroll down and tap Advanced.
Note. You can change the swipe settings for each individual account on your device.
On the next screen, tap the Remote Mailbox option if you want the email to be sent there instead of to an archive mailbox. You can also select the folder in Gmail that matches the specified folder in the Mail app. By default, the archived mailbox is placed in the All Mail folder in Gmail, and the deleted mailbox is placed in the Gmail Trash folder.
After changing your swipe settings, every time you swipe to delete an email, it moves that email to the Trash folder, and the icon appears as a trash can.
If you want to recover an email from the trash, you only have 30 days to do so; otherwise, it will be permanently deleted. If you want it to be removed from the trash folder before 30 days have passed, you can manually delete it from the trash folder.
The Gmail app works on your iPhone / iPad the same way it does on the web app. If you touch the trash can icon, the deleted email will be sent to the trash folder on the remote web server.
We hope that you now understand what is happening with the email you delete from your iPhone / iPad. Remember, if you are using IMAP, the email will be removed from your device, but will remain on the server. With POP, email is only deleted from your device, and the original copy is not saved on the server.