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How to delete email messages (items) permanently in Outlook?

As you know, when you delete an email message from the Inbox folder, this message is not removed permanently, and you can find it in the Delete Items folder. If you want to remove this message permanently, you have to delete it from the Delete Items folder again. It sounds tedious! Actually, there are several tricks to delete email messages or items permanently in Microsoft Outlook.

Permanently delete email messages from Inbox folder with shortcuts

Permanently delete email messages from Inbox folder with AutoArchive

Permanently delete email messages from the Delete Items folder

Permanently remove all deleted items in Outlook

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arrow blue right bubblePermanently delete email messages from Inbox folder with shortcuts

You can permanently delete email messages from the Inbox folder easily.

1. Open the Inbox folder, select to highlight the email messages in the Inbox folder that you will delete permanently, and press the Shift + Delete keys at the same time.

2. In a pop-up warning dialog box, click the Yes button. Then all selected email messages in the Inbox folder are deleted permanently.
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Note:
(1) This method can also be used to permanently delete email messages from other folders, such as Sent Items folder, Drafts folder, Outbox folder, etc.
(2) Holding the Shift key, you can select multiple adjacent email messages with clicking the first email message and the last one.
(3) Holding the Ctrl key, you can select multiple nonadjacent email messages with clicking each one separately.


arrow blue right bubblePermanently delete old emails/items from Inbox folder with AutoArchive

This method will guide you to archive old emails from the Inbox folder with the AutoArchive feature, which can permanently delete old emails automatically.

1. On the Navigation Pane, right click the Inbox folder, and select Properties from the context menu. See screenshot:

2. In the opening Inbox Properties dialog box, go to the AutoArchive tab, and do as follows: (1) Check the Archive this folder using these settings option; (2) Define the old email as you need, such as 3 months; (3) Check the Permanently delete old items option.

3. Click the OK button to save the settings.
From now on, it will automatically and permanently delete emails/items older than the defined time period from the Inbox folder.

Note: This method can also automatically and permanently delete old emails/items from other folders, such as Sent Items folder, Calendar folders, etc.


arrow blue right bubblePermanently delete email messages in the Delete Items folder

If you have deleted many email messages before, you can permanently remove these deleted email messages from the Delete Items folder quickly.

1. In the Navigation pane, right click the Delete Items folder, and click the Empty Folder in the right-clicking menu.

2. A warning dialog box comes out. Just click the Yes button to exit this dialog box.

Then all deleted email messages are permanently removed from the Microsoft Outlook at once.

Note: If the Deleted items folder includes subfolders, after clicking Yes button in the warning dialog box, all items in the Deleted items folder will be removed including the subfolders.


arrow blue right bubblePermanently remove all deleted items in Outlook

There is an alternative method to permanently remove all deleted items from Microsoft Outlook immediately. You can do it as following:

1. Open the Mailbox Cleanup dialog box:
A. If you are using Outlook 2007, please click the Tools > Empty "Delete Items" Folder.
B. If you are using Outlook 2010 or later versions, please click the File > Info > Cleanup Tools > Empty Delete Items Folder.

2. In the pop-up warning dialog box, just click the Yes button to close it.

Then everything in the Delete items folder will be permanently removed in a minute. 

Note: If the Deleted items folder includes subfolders, after clicking Yes button in the warning dialog box, all items in the Deleted items folder will be removed including the subfolders.


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  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Luz Villarreal · 1 years ago
    i continue to receive messages that will restore permanently deleted emails how can i stop anyone from restoring my emails?
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Dan D · 1 years ago
    I want to turn off purge from my email account, Outlook 2010. When a message gets deleted it is not going to my deleted items it is being purged and can't be recovered. How do I turn off the purge option?
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    David Louis Molnar · 2 years ago
    I like the shift delete move to delete msgs, but they do not permanently delete the emails as I would love. They go somewhere in space and I have to now select "permanently" deleted emails one at a time and hit purge to get rid of them. Why not a setting to do a single action that really, really, permanently deletes emails.
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      Tang Kelly · 2 years ago
      Hi David,
      Which version of Outlook are you using now? The Outlook updates frequently, and the features vary based on Outlook versions.
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Marianne Kaelberer · 2 years ago
    When I delete empty folders, they return after a few minutes. I have numerous folders that I need to delete. I have a mess! Please advise. Marianne
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    Eileen · 3 years ago
    My outlook is 1995 to2003, I can not find advice how to permanently delete my e-mails, the problem I am having is when I delete my inbox to deleted items, when I press send/ recieve I am getting some old e-mails that I have deleted coming back through with the new ones, could someone please tell me what to do to rectify the problem. Thankyou
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      L F · 2 years ago
      as i studied the issue i think i now understand how it works and hopefully the solution for it, as follows (if you have a gmail account connected to your outlook): when you first set up outlook it will put a setting that when you delete an item it should move it to the Deleted items folder on the server. but the problem is that gmail has long changed its Deleted items-recycle folder to folder called BIN. so because of this it happaned that when you set up outlook it added-created to gmail list of folders a folder called Deleted items what in fact does nothing but store emails as the Important folder for example. so now if you really want to delete an email you have to move it to the Bin folder by right clicking the item > move to > select folder, onence moved go to Bin folder, Shift delete and than finaly wil be gone forever. and you should change setting that when deleting should automatically move to Bin folder rather than Deleted items folder, you do this by going to File > Accounts setting > Email > Change > More settings > Deleted items, select Bin folder, ok etc, and now you shold be done.
      The same idea is with sent email where in outlook is called Sent items when in gmail is called Sent mail and because of this creates double sent copys.
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    makondo · 3 years ago
    i suppose you all got this by now, but as this is the top ranking page with this problem and i can't see no answer i'll just dump it here. what you need to do, after you delete your messages holding shift button - you will have to go to edit/purge (which will only show if you have deleted emails) and choose what suits you best.
    please note that this solution applies to the IMAP accounts and outlook 2007.
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      kamran · 2 years ago
      [quote name="makondo"]i suppose you all got this by now, but as this is the top ranking page with this problem and i can't see no answer i'll just dump it here. what you need to do, after you delete your messages holding shift button - you will have to go to edit/purge (which will only show if you have deleted emails) and choose what suits you best.
      please note that this solution applies to the IMAP accounts and outlook 2007.[/quote]

      Thanks alot my friend it worked lieka CHARM!!!! You have a very happy, prosperous, wealthy NEW YEAR!!!
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Shima · 4 years ago
    Hi

    I have a a few folders in the deleted item. Even i follow that way, i press deleted, but the folder still come after 1 minute later.

    Can advise how to delete these folders frm the deleted item permanently.
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      John · 3 years ago
      Hi,
      Well, whatever it says over here, still NOT permanently delete.
      Check it:
      Follow the steps over here, once its done. Log into OWA (Outlook Web App) you can recover everything just by one lick on "Recover" option. :)
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Kathi Hoffman · 4 years ago
    In Outlook 2010, when I delete a subfolder, the program deletes ALL my stored emails in other subfolders as well as whatever is still in my Inbox! Does anyone know why this is happening and how to fix it? HELP!!!
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    rick rundles · 4 years ago
    OK i have a similar problem. I cant receive or send emails because it says i have exceeded my email limit and must delete some data by pressing SHIFT n DELETE at the same time. Not only did i follow Outlooks suggestions, i have followed all of the suggestions above but damn, nothing solves the problem. Can anyone help? rrundles@cox.net is my email and can pick up your message on my phone. Thanks in advance
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    Rachel Barlow · 4 years ago
    I have tried all the methods suggested and I still have c,400 messages in my Inbox which I have tried every way I can think to delete of including your suggestions. I want them to disappear from my Inbox, go to Deleted items and be deleted. Instead they are simply crossed out in the Inbox.
    By sending/moving them to the Deleted Items, where indeed I can delete them, and by their remaining in my Inbox, all that is happening is that I am copying not removing them to the Deleted Items. I want to REMOVE them altogether. This is very unsatisfactory.
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      Unknown · 1 years ago
      Is there a way to permanently delete emails in the recipients mailbox?