Tech Tip Summer Extra: Is Your iPhone Deleting Email Trash?

A recent change to iOS seems to have changed the way email trash is handled on the iPhone and iPad. Read on to learn how to check if your email trash is being emptied behind your back.

About iOS Email Configurations
When email is set up on an iOS device the default option is called “IMAP.” With IMAP, the iOS device acts as a sort of window onto the mail server–the mail you see is actually up on the mail server. The alternative to IMAP is “POP”, which downloads email onto your phone, making a copy of the things on the server. We generally recommend IMAP for setup because there’s no issue with synchronizing–the email on your desktop, the email on your phone, and the email in Webmail are all the same.

Behind the scenes when you set up email on the iPhone, it decides where to put messages that you delete. It used to be that it would create an email trash receptacle on your iPhone and put deleted messages there. However, one of the recent iOS updates changed it so that it now defaults to using the trash on the mail server if you set up your account as IMAP. That’s fine, and even good, because who really wants to manage two trash receptacles? If your email is set up POP then it still uses a local trash receptacle.

So that’s all good, but a second change to the way trash is handled by default isn’t so great: the trash is automatically set to be deleted if it’s more than 7 days old. On an IMAP account that may well mean that it’s emptying the email trash on the server–including email that you threw out on your computer or other devices. On a POP account it will only be deleting email that you threw out on your iOS device.

Checking the Configuration of your iOS Email
We aren’t sure exactly who will be affected by this change, but we ourselves have been affected, so we strongly suggest that anyone using an iOS device check their email settings (and if you have more than one iOS device check it on all of them). Even if you don’t think you care about how trash is handled you should understand what it’s doing.

  1. On your iOS device open up “Settings” and then select “Mail, Contacts, Calendars.”
  2. Select your Hampshire account.
  3. If your account says “POP” then you don’t need to worry about it deleting server trash and can stop here–but if you want to see how often it’s emptying the trash you can continue on. If it says “IMAP,” then select the account again to bring up the account information.
  4. Scroll down and select “Advanced.”
  5. Under “Mailbox Behaviors” select “Deleted Mailbox.” (If you’re using POP then skip this step.)
  6. Look to see which “Trash” is checked. If it’s “On my iPhone” then your trash is stored separate from the server. If it’s under “On the Server” then you’re using the email server trash. If you want to change where trash is put you can select a different option, but the main point here is to find out which it’s doing. (Ignore this step if you’re using POP.)
  7. Select “Advanced” to go back to the previous screen (POP users won’t have to do this).
  8. Under “Deleted Messages” look at the “Remove” setting. This is how often it will empty your trash. If your Deleted Mailbox was set to the server trash we advise setting this field to “Never.”
  9. Go back to the Account page and select “Done.”