I was doing some testing and could not figure this out. After a lot of Googling, I finally came across some undocumented information that worked. The “Mail” application in iOS has certain unobvious features. Personally I would put a “Select All” button or a little check mark at the top of the list, that would have been way more intuitive.

(*** Updated Information to delete all emails on IOS 12)

Here’s the recipe:

  • go into your “Mail” app
  • go to the “Inbox”
  • click on the “Edit” button
  • select the first email so it now has a check mark beside it
  • with one finger press on the “Move” button
    and another finger press the first email again to deselect it
  • WAIT (if you have a lot of emails, your iOS device will appear to be frozen for a few minutes)
  • then click on the “Trash”
  • WAIT (if you have a lot of emails, this will also take time)

You should now see all the emails in your Trash. Now go into the “Trash” and select “Edit”. Amazingly there is an elusive “Delete All” button here. Select that and voila!

Unfortunately it is difficult to think of all these usability points when designing an app. However Apple does have a lot more resources than most and there are a lot of features that could be added to make the Mail app way more usable. It wouldn’t take much to check the forums for some free R&D and implement some changes.

  1. Will this also delete your emails online? I’ve found that when I delete an email on my phone, it still shows up on my email when I check it using my laptop! Then I need to repeat the procedure. What a hassle!

    • Unfortunately this depends on how you have your email configured on your smartphone. It doesn’t necessarily do anything to your online email. You would need to dig into your Settings.

    • I feel you pbjelycows. I kept on digging on my settings but to no avail. Btw, what kind of phone are you using anyway?

  2. Thanks! That was really helpful, i got a little scared when my phone started to act weird when i start to delete, but everything went smoothly after that. Now i keep on wondering why i haven’t figured it out before.

  3. Thanks a lot for this my uncle had asked me to delete his mail for him. I would have expected a select all button. I couldn’t find a way to delete all his mail so I ended up deleting it one by one. I’m glad I know how to do it now. It will, save me a lot of hassle.

  4. This is very convenient thanks. Reading many of my emails through my I pad, I try not to have a cluttered inbox. This will save a lot of time, when I need to get do a mass delete.

  5. I didn’t know this – very useful! I knew how to delete single emails but never all at once.

  6. Thank you, I did not even know you could do that!
    I always left all my messages without deleting them. I CROI not take it too much space but it is still useful.

    But is that it removes the message permanently. If you go to our mailbox with our PC, the message will still be there?

  7. Thanks for sharing– it all makes sense now! I had no idea this even existed… My IPhone life is definitely going to be a lot easier on my email app now. It’s funny how many strange shortcuts these devices have but how hard they are to figure out! If you can ever find any more tips and tricks like these, I’d be happy to use them!

  8. Crazy! That’s super helpful to know. My inboxes sometimes get a little overwhelming because I forget to delete things as deal with them. This trick will definitely help out.

  9. Wow, thank you for this! I wish I’d read this sooner, because I’ve wasted so much time deleting emails individually on my iPhone. I always found it tedious and wished their was a way that I could select all without having to select each one and delete them in groups. Thank you!

  10. Ah, yes! I’ve been looking for a way to do this. Thank you! I do have a question regarding iPhone contacts, if I may. Is there a way to delete duplicate entries for contacts without having to do it manually on the phone? I imported my contacts from Gmail but there were so many it ended up being an overload of disaster for my iPhone 4. Thanks!

  11. Important information to save some time. Thanks a lot.

    People often underestimate how necessary it is to organize yourself the right way. Handling your mails in a proper manner is very basic when it comes to that topic

  12. Thanks, I just helped my aunt with her IPhone using this info. What I don’t understand is how come these organisations hide such settings. It’s not only with the iOS devices, I have been having problems with Skype and other messengers hiding the sign out button.

    • I agree with you about all this hiding. Why don’t they come clean and tell us exactly what this app or that app does? I guess we would not need all those top 10 “what you did not know about your iPhone, explained and revealed”.
      I guess it would be asking for too much. It is always nice to discover something new about a relatively old device.

  13. Oh, thank you! It’s annoying how much mail my school piles on us. (Trust me, it’s a lot.)

    Since I carry my phone everywhere I go, I mostly use it to check my email rather than my laptop. It’s been such a hassle to manage my mail because so much of it gets lost. I really wish the iPhone just had a mail app that had much more intuitive features. As it stands, I find the default mail app to be severely lacking in a lot of basic functions. Hey, at least it can have multiple mailboxes though.

  14. This is really helpful. I have so many notifications on my mail app on my iPhone all the time. But since I usually check email on my laptop I never need to check it on my phone and the notifications just stay there and accumulate to the 100s.

    This would really help me get my mail app in order. Thanks.

  15. After hours of searching I have finally found out how to do this. Thank you for these tips on how to do this,
    . If you are wondering you can also try this out on android to, you just need to follow the same tips and you’ll be some and have a empty email inbox.

    • I was reading this article, and thinking of what valuable information this is. I have family members and friends who have the iPhone, and I’ll pass this along to them. Having the power of the “Delete All” button will leave them absolutely thrilled!

      @iPaolera, thanks so much for letting us know we can use these tips for Android. That’s great as I do have an Android and a lot of spam emails I have been wanting to delete.

  16. This post was really informative and helpful, as I have two different E-mails one of which I use more often than the other. This has led to my other being clogged with nothing but spam. I’ll definitely pass this information along to others that I know with this problem.

  17. Wow this helps me save time to delete all the spam I get sometimes. I have 1000 emails right now that I don’t want to delete one by one. So this really helps the agonizing pain of pressing one page at a time.

  18. I, honestly, have never thought to do this on my iPad or iPhone before. I have deleted single emails, but haven’t thought to do any mass-deletions. This is interesting and I’ve never thought to look for a delete-all option. I guess I just assumed there wasn’t one.

    • I know right? I was the same. I didn’t even know such an option existed. I wasted countless hours if I think about how much time I was really spending doing this.

      This is definitely such a useful tip!

  19. My mother actually just asked me how to delete her messages on her Ipad and I sent her the link to this article. Thanks. I do not use Ipads so I was unsure, myself, of how to delete all e-mails at once. This is a nice walk-through.

  20. This worked like a charm. After I updated to ios 7 I realized I had almost 60,000 emails on my Iphone 4s. I used this technique and had to go through it half a dozen times but WAY much better than having to select each email individually! Thank you!

  21. This has not worked for me- what am I doing wrong??? Tried it on ipad and I phone

  22. I figured out how to to this on the second day I had my phone. I had so many emails and it was getting annoying so I played around with my phone and finally figured out how to delete my emails.

  23. I am not sure but I think this has been solved in the latest IOS 7 and 8 update. 🙂 the article must have been a year old, but still helpful.

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