iPhone Unable to Move Message – Cannot Delete Emails – RESOLVED

There seems to be a glitch on the iPhone 3G when it comes to deleting emails. Through one of my IMAP accounts, when I try to delete an email, I consistently get the error “Unable to Move Message”. When the email account was setup on the iPhone, it was already selected to move deleted emails to the local trash folder of the phone. If you are also unable to delete emails on your iPhone, try this. Go inside:

Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendar > Email Account > Advanced > Deleted Mailbox

Then tap on Trash – even though you may already have a check mark beside it. This should allow you to start deleting emails.

Update: Depending on how you setup your email account, you may need to click one extra step to find Advanced:

Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendar > Email Account > Email Account (again) > Advanced > Deleted Mailbox

Then tap on Trash.

Ian Lee

Ian Lee

Work from home dad, marketer and photographer. Fallen in love with basketball all over again as I coach my daughter's team.

100 thoughts on “iPhone Unable to Move Message – Cannot Delete Emails – RESOLVED”

  1. Avatar

    My issue is similar, I select the emails to be deleted in my Hotmail account, the phone flashes black goes back the icon window, and the deleted emails are still there. I even went one at a time and put the emails in the trash. They delete, then once I am back on the main window, the messages are still there. I even deleted the account and re added it, it worked for a day and then back to the same problem.

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    I’m having the exact same problem as Julie. Tried deleting and re-entering the POP3 account several times, tried restoring my phone 4 times, turned it off and on a bazillion times and still nothing works? Really aggravating! Have so many e-mails in there, I’m afraid my phone will implode.

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    Am having same problem as julie with talktalk account. Tried doing what was suggested but couldn’t find ‘trash’ item in advanced options under email talktalk.

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    Awesome! I’ve had this problem with a couple of my mail accounts since I got my iPod Touch. I’ve searched the web numerous times and have always come up empty handed. In fact, I think this may be the only place on the web that has this info. You are the king!

  5. Avatar

    didnt work for me? also i cannot see emails in my inbox unless i use the search function – whats that all about? i use aol

  6. Avatar

    Thanks for the solution! Its people like you that make me want to start sharing my tech solutions to help others too!


  7. Avatar

    I am having the exact same problem. Actually it all started with not able to move messages…then I could not receive messages… and then it showed that I had ### total messages, 0 unreads. But it would not load them for me to see…unless I use the search menu. Been on the phone with ATT and Apple and restoring etc for over 8 hours. Apple is clueless as to the problem over the phone… taking it in on Friday. Did you find an answer??

    Good luck!

  8. Avatar

    I am having the same problem but when I get to Advanced there is no trash option. Any ideas what to do anyone?

  9. Avatar

    PS I do not have a deleted mailbox facility either.

    I am having the same problem but when I get to Advanced there is no trash option. Any ideas what to do anyone?

  10. Avatar

    When I check my mail it says 71 messges total 0 unread. It doesnt give me time to click them and when i do it just goes to no messages in inbox…. PLEASE someone help me…………….

  11. Avatar

    hi have followed the instructions above but i don’t seem to have anythinh that says trash. Anybody help plse?

  12. Avatar

    Thanks this worked on my new iphone 4! I hate all the glitches my phone seems to have but this made it all go away.

  13. Avatar

    I was hoping by tapping on trash although it was checked, this would do the magic, since it worked on some others iphone, but I still get the message “Unable to move to Trash” , can someone help me. PLEASE!

  14. Avatar

    I tried to use this fix, but when I go to settings/mail, contacts, calendars, there is no Advanced. What am I doing wrong. My problem is four old email messages that keep coming back to my phone

  15. Avatar

    Thanks it worked on an iphone 4, well sort of…

    The phone is 2 days old and today it told me that it could not move messages to trash (anymore). BUT now I have two trash boxes. Newly deleted go to the second trash box but I need to delete all of the messages from the first trash box.

    I thought these phones were supposed to work out of the box without needing tweaking!!!

    Thanks again

  16. Avatar

    iPhone 4.1 (8B117 / Firmware 02.10.04)

    Per above:
    “Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendar > Email Account > Advanced > Deleted Mailbox

    Then tap on Trash โ€“ even though you may already have a check mark beside it. This should allow you to start deleting emails.”

    But, ah, how can I tap on Trash? Account is deleted so there is no mailbox with Trash to tap on. Do you mean delete, then re-install and tap on Trash? Otherwise on iPhone 4.1 there is no “Trash” icon.

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    Having the same problem when i deleted emails from my iphone 4 they returned. So I read this blog, deleted the account on my phone and recreated the hotmail account. seems to be working now, or so I hope this fixed it..

  18. Avatar

    1- thanks for the hint, it worked fine
    2- the most important thing for this fix to work is that after you tap the trash , u need to exit gracefully instead of clicking on the home button on ur iPhone. What I mean by that is that u need to backtrack by clicking on arrows at the top of ur screen . Do that twice and then you’ll see a “done” button. Click on that and keep backtracking…. That is how it worked for me after two failed attempts.
    3- for those who could not find “advanced” make sure u scroll to the bottom of that page

  19. Avatar

    Thanks alot!!! Appreciate the help! This answer works for iPhone 4 as well. Guys in the Apple store didn’t even know the answer to this one. You made my day!

  20. Avatar

    As a clarification for iPhone4 if it already checked marked on Trash – On My IPhone, you need to instead check Trash – On the Server.

  21. Avatar

    This works for me…somewhere on your PC in your deleted mail there are partially downloaded emails (saved or in your trash) permanently delete them. I can’t give you a technical answer for this but it’s haunted me for awhile on my aol acct and this works for me.

  22. Avatar

    Thanks for that Fawzi, after clicking on “trash” as advised & backing up until you see (& press) the done button! That is the key!


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    Doesn’t work for my setup. No “Advanced” tab in account settings. Hotmail account is setup using MS Exchange so my Calendar and other mail folders can be downloaded as well. Any other suggestions?

  24. Avatar

    In my Advanced I only have “Deleted Messages w/ options when to remove) and Delete from server.

    ?? Nothing with Trash!? I’ve been having this issure for weeks and I’m fed up! Can someone help!?

  25. Avatar

    I was having difficulty making this change.
    Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendar > Email Account > Advanced > Deleted Mailbox

    Then tap on Trash โ€“ even though you may already have a check mark beside it. This should allow you to start deleting emails.
    YOU GOTTA GO THE EXTRA STEP TO CLICK THE “DONE” button to make the trash change stick!

    Thank for the tip, though. It got me there pretty quickly once I figured out the obvious click on Done.

  26. Avatar

    Had a hard time finding the “advanced section” myself…they are all leaving out a step, for those who are having a hard time finding it…Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendar > Email Account > email acount(again) > then advanced….you should be able to figure it out after that….

  27. Avatar

    works perfectly…just remember to back out of mail settings and hit the “done” button or the changes won’t take place…


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    I have an i-phone 3 and I did not have the option they talked about after I went to advanced, etc. I had 1 email that I could not put in the trash. I went to inbox on my mail then edit, there is an option to delete. I tapped the one I wanted deleted and it was removed.

  29. Avatar

    I too was having problems finding advanced – wasn’t on my phone. I tried marking all the old messages as unread and magically they all were removed from my inbox. Hope this helps.

  30. Avatar

    I also didn’t have an advance option. What worked in my iPhone 3Gs is going into the inbox on the phone and marking all the messages that won’t delete as “read”. You can do that by tapping “edit” at the top right of the phone, selected the messages that are giving you problems, then tapping “mark” which is on the bottom right. They magically all disappear for me.

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