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Downloading deleted email is a mystery! Perhaps it's not really deleted and you need to check some settings.

Outlook keeps downloading deleted mails from Gmail. I first go to Gmail and delete the emails I don't want. However, when I open Outlook 2007, those emails are still downloaded into my inbox. I can't figure out how to stop this happening.

In this excerpt from Answercast #70, I look at a mysterious case where email that has been deleted in Gmail continues to download into Outlook.

Deleting vs. archiving

So, the only thing that comes to mind is potentially that what you are doing is not deleting but archiving. In other words, if you're on Gmail and you select a message and you click on "Archive," that makes it disappear from Gmail's inbox, but it's still present in your "All mail" folder. That means the message is still there.

Now, depending on how you have Outlook configured, it is possible (if you're using, for example, IMAP) that Outlook is still going to download all of the messages in all of your folders by default. So it will still download those messages that happen to be in your "All mail" folder in Gmail.

Deleted emails shouldn't download

Now if you're using POP3, I'm really kind of surprised. This is not what I would expect to happen. I would have thought that POP 3 would download only emails in your inbox.

However, I would absolutely check out the settings in Gmail for both IMAP and POP3 to indicate which ones are turned on or not - and if possible, which folders might be referenced by the settings on the Gmail side.

On the Outlook side, I do believe that there are advanced settings that will control in IMAP which folders Outlook is going to pay attention to. I will be totally honest and say that that's not something I've played with directly, so I can't really give you a really specific answer on exactly what to do there - but it is at least where I would also have you check.

Check email account settings

Check both the full account settings for that account and potentially even a per folder setting on the IMAP configuration for that account.

It's very possible that all of your folders don't necessarily need to be synchronized. It's also possible that you may actually want all of that stuff in your "All mail" folder.

Delete isn't delete

And finally, if you're actually using the Delete button up on Gmail? That actually will only move the email into the trash. Theoretically, I would expect it not to be downloaded by IMAP - and certainly not by POP3.

It's possible that IMAP could download it because it's another folder that it needs to deal with.

Like most email programs, Gmail's Delete really is a deferred delete. In order to allow you to say, "Oops, I didn't mean to delete that!" all they really do is move it into a folder called "Trash." Then either manually you have to go in and empty your trash, or you let the trash sit there for a while. I know that Gmail automatically deletes spam after 30 days. I honestly don't know if they apply the same kind of rule to your trash. I believe they do. So that might be the thing to look at. You might try emptying your trash before you download your email into Outlook.

Article C6032 - November 15, 2012 « »

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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?

Mark J
November 16, 2012 7:44 AM

I use GMail with IMAP access. When I delete an email with the web interface, it definitely appears in the deleted folder in Thunderbird so that may be what's happening in this case.

November 16, 2012 10:20 AM

They are downloaded again because you didn't delete them from the SERVER, you just deleted them from YOUR computer.

If you want to really delete them , delete TWICE, the first time deletes from your computer, the next one from the sever.

You'll get a message asking if you really want to delete from the server when you hit delete the second time.

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