Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

The Delete button in Gmail will move the email to the trash and there is a way to easily empty that trash.

Leo: Is there a way to delete forever emails in Google without going through Trash and All Mail, and selecting each one and deleting it manually? In Outlook Express, I can use the "Shift + Delete" keys and delete the email after I read it, and it's gone, and not in my trash file. I use Gmail as my primary email program, but I also retain OE for things, such as buying online so I don't get solicitations in my primary program.

In this excerpt from Answercast #24, I give another warning about Outlook Express and show how to easily delete email in Google's Gmail.

Deleting emails

If you're using both Gmail and Outlook Express, you're actually using two different email accounts. There's nothing specific about Outlook Express that wouldn't allow you to use Gmail with it.

You can in fact use Outlook Express with multiple accounts and you can configure it to download Gmail, if you want to.

Time to move away from Outlook Express

That being said, I strongly recommend you stop using Outlook Express. I have an article on it, "Why Outlook Express Must Die." The problem with Outlook Express is that, in my experience, in my nine years of doing this, I have seen more email lost to various problems with Outlook Express than with any other email program. And Microsoft isn't supporting it anymore.

I strongly recommend that you move to something like Thunderbird.

Deleting emails in Gmail

To address your question, the thing to do in Gmail is to go ahead and click the Delete button on the messages.

Yes, that will move them to the Trash; but if you then view the Trash folder, near the top, there should be a link or a line that says Empty Trash Now.

That should empty the entire contents of the Trash folder right then, which I think is exactly what you're looking for: a true, permanent delete.

  • Realize that anything that's in the Trash will get deleted after 30 days anyway.

And, I'll say this again: use the Delete button and not the Archive button. The Archive button means you want to keep the email, throwing it into the 10 GB of space they now give you.

  • It's the Delete button that signifies to Gmail that you really want to delete the mail.

  • Gmail then moves it into the Trash folder, which you can then empty immediately, if you want to.

  • Or you can just let it sit for 30 days and things will end up getting permanently deleted automatically.

Next from Answercast 24- Are Evite invitations safe?

Article C5428 - June 6, 2012 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

1 Comment
June 7, 2012 11:16 AM

I haven't figured out why, but lately I don't get the "Empty Trash Now" option unless I click on the Trash folder a second time.

Comments on this entry are closed.

If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.

If you don't find your answer, head out to to ask your question.