How to purge email and reclaim lost server space
When you’ve marked a message for deletion on an IMAP email account it still exists on the mail server until it is purged. This could well be the reason your inbox is full even though you thought you’d deleted everything and it’s often the cause of emails bouncing. So, to recover the space you must purge your unwanted emails from the mail server, completely erasing them. Here’s how:
How to purge email in Outlook
First, click on a folder in your IMAP email account. Then, click on the ‘Edit’ button as shown and hover over ‘Purge’.
Clicking on Purge Marked Items in “folder“ means that only the items marked for deletion in the folder that you are in are purged from the IMAP mail server.
Clicking on Purge Marked Items in “e-mail account“ means that items marked for deletion in any folder for this IMAP e-mail account are purged from the IMAP mail server.
Clicking on Purge Marked Items in “All Accounts” means that all items marked for deletion in any folder for any IMAP e-mail account are purged from the IMAP mail server – this is for multiple email addresses.
How to purge email in Gmail
First, open your Gmail account and find the group of messages you’d like to delete, these can be found by text searching or by selecting all messages with a certain label. Click on the checkbox in the toolbar as shown below. This will select all messages currently visible.
Once clicked, a pop up similar to this will appear: “All 20 conversations on this page are selected. Select all conversations that match this search.” Click the underlined part if you’d like to delete all the messages held within that group instead of selecting them page after page.
If you’re certain you’d like to remove the selected messages, continue and click the trash can icon.
Messages stay in the bin for 30 days once they have been placed there. If you’d like to permanently delete them faster, you can select ‘Bin’ from the left hand menu and then select all, as you did above, but this time select ‘Delete forever’.
How to purge email in OS X Mail
First you need to go to the ‘Mail’ menu, click ‘Preferences’, then choose ‘Accounts’ along the top bar.
Choose your IMAP email account and then select the ‘Mailbox behaviours’ tab and look at the bottom ‘Trash’ section. (It is quite likely that you have ‘Move deleted messages to the Trash‘ not ticked and ‘Store deleted messages on the server‘ ticked. Even if you are moving mail to Trash you should set an erase option.)
You should see an option that says “Permanently erase deleted messages when“. Apple says ‘Select a setting other than Never to avoid exceeding storage limits set by your account provider.’
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