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Deleted in Outlook but not from Gmail

I’ve got my Gmail account configured as an IMAP account in Outlook. I noticed that when I delete a message from my mailbox in Outlook, I can still find it on-line in Gmail’s All Mail folder.

Is there a way to set it up so that when I delete it from Outlook, it is also deleted from Gmail?

As Gmail was set up with the thought of “never need to delete an email again”, the default configuration of Gmail is to archive your messages rather than deleting it.

In Gmail, archiving means that all labels (what you experience as folders) are removed from an item so that it only shows in your All Mail folder.

Depending on your version of Outlook, you can either change this behavior of Gmail in Outlook itself or via Gmail’s options.

Outlook 2010 – Deleted Items folder for IMAP

In Outlook 2010, you can assign a folder as the Deleted Items folder for an IMAP account. If you set this to the Trash folder of your Gmail mailbox, then your deleted mail in Outlook will be also get deleted on Gmail.

  1. File-> Account Settings-> Account Settings…
  2. Double click on on your Gmail account to open its settings dialog.
  3. Press on the button More Settings…
  4. Select the Deleted Items tab.
  5. Select the option: Move deleted items to the following folder on the server
  6. Select the Trash folder from the [Gmail] root.
  7. Enable the option: Purge items when switching folders while online
  8. Press OK to apply the changes.
  9. Press Next to verify your changed account settings.
  10. Close the test dialog, press Finish and then Close to return back to the main Outlook window.

In Outlook 2010, you can set the Trash folder as the Deleted Items folder for a Gmail IMAP account.
In Outlook 2010, you can set the Trash folder as the Deleted Items
folder for a Gmail IMAP account.

Gmail – Expunge and deletion options

In previous versions of Outlook, you cannot set a Deleted Items folder for an IMAP account as deleting messages from an IMAP account actually works a bit different from other account types.

Long technical story short; Instead of moving it to a Deleted Items folder, it only gets “marked as deleted” but will still exist in the original folder. To actually delete an item, you’ll need to “Expunge” the item which is called “Purge” in Outlook.

However, when purging your deleted items in Outlook, Gmail’s default behavior is to archive it to the “All Mail” folder. This behavior can be changed in Gmail itself.

  1. In Gmail on the web, open your Settings dialog and select Forwarding and POP/IMAP or use this direct link.
  2. In the IMAP Access section, select the following options:
    • When I mark a message in IMAP as deleted:
      Auto-Expunge off – Wait for the client to update the server.
    • When a message is marked as deleted and expunged from the last visible IMAP folder:
      Move the message to the Trash
  3. At the bottom press the button Save Changes

Setting Gmail's deleting behavior for IMAP accounts.
Setting Gmail’s deleting behavior for IMAP accounts.

Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2003 – Purging and Purge Options
In addition to these changes in Gmail, you must set Outlook to auto-purge deleted items upon switching folders or purge them manually via;

  • Purge automatically (Outlook 2007 only)
    Edit-> Purge-> Purge Options…-> Purge items when switching folders while online
  • Purge manually (outlook 2007)
    Edit-> Purge-> Purge Marked Items in “<folder name>
  • Purge manually (Outlook 2003)
    Edit-> Purge Deleted Messages

Move to trash folder

In some cases, the above method will not work and purged deleted items will still show up in the All Mail folder rather than Gmail moving it to the Trash folder. In those cases you can also choose to move the messages manually to the Trash folder in Outlook instead of deleting them via pressing Delete.

Adding the Trash folder to your Favorite Folders section might simplify this for you as then you won’t have to search for the folder each time.

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