How to fix iPad IMAP error “unable to move message to trash”

Last updated : 6 December 2013


iphone unable to move message

Unable to Move Message: The message could not be moved to the mailbox.

This only happens if you are using IMAP servers for your email and isn’t an issue for POP mailboxes.

Are you a hotmail, live.com or outlook.com user?

This fix does not work for hotmail, live.com, or outlook.com because Microsoft does not use IMAP, it uses Exchange Active Link (EAS).

To fix this error you can either:

This IMAP fix will work if you use Microsoft Exchange services such as Office365.

 

How-to fix this error

1. Press the Home button on your iPad and choose Settings.

iphone settings

2. Scroll down and click “Mail, Contacts, Calendars” from the list.

iphone mail contacts calendars

3. Click your email account – it should have an arrow to the right of the email address displayed.

4. Scroll to the end on the settings and click Advanced.

iphone mail advanced

Can’t see the Advanced button?

Some visitors have reported that they do not see the Advanced button. If this happens to you then you have to delete your IMAP email account and add it again manually. Follow these instructions to add your email account to your iPhone manually. This will then let you see the Advanced button.

5. Scroll down and tap the empty IMAP Path Prefix.

iphone imap prefix

6. Enter INBOX in capitals, then click ‘Accounts’ at the top left and click ‘Done’ at the top right twice to close the settings.

Can’t see the IMAP path prefix?

Some visitors have reported that they do not see the IMAP prefix. If this happens to you then you have to delete your IMAP email account and add it again manually. Follow these instructions to add your email account to your iPhone manually. This will then let you see the Advanced button.

iphone imap prefix fixed

7. Press the Home button and then re-open Mail.

8. You will now be able to delete or move your emails on your iPad without the error message appearing!

Did you find this iPhone fix helpful?

If you found this IMAP fix helpful please take a moment to tweet, like, or share this article by using the buttons at the top of this page. I’d really appreciate it. :)

Also, if you are feeling extra generous after having your issue solved please leave some encouraging feedback in the comments section at the bottom of the page. I love getting feedback from visitors. It encourages me to find further solutions to those awkward little iPhone, iPad, MacBook, and Mac problems that we all suffer from.

Thanks for taking the time to read my website and I hope to help you again soon!

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Kevin Craighead

Director at NetChimp
Kevin Craighead is the Director and founder of NetChimp, a highly regarded web design agency with offices in York and Aberdeen in the UK. Over the last 15 years he has provided advice for huge multi-nationals - like BP and DuPont - to small businesses and local authorities. Originally from Scotland Kevin enjoys all things techie and electronic.

Comments

  1. Brilliant tip! Just helped my aunt fix her iPAD issue with mail that cannot be deleted. She is ever so thankful!

  2. Brilliant!
    Thanks

  3. We keep trying to delete an email onour iPad3 sent from a Samsung phone. It disappears, then a few seconds later it comes back with the message, ‘Unable to move message’ and ‘The messgae could not be moved to the mailbox Trash’. All other emails can be deleted without a problem.

  4. Christine says:

    Excellent tip on how to stop getting an error message on my iPad. Really clear instructions and very easy to follow. Thank you! I have added your site to my Favourites as I expect to be consulting you again soon. :-)

  5. Sherry S. says:

    Wow. Thank you so much for the quick fix. Perfect. Followed your detailed instructions and worked perfectly the first time. Thanks again.

  6. Brilliant! Why can’t Apple post this up on their forums, or better yet, fix their system properly in the first place so people like you and everyone else don’t have to waste their time doing Apple’s thinking for them? Apple, you’re getting slack, and the difference between you and Microsoft is getting smaller every year, which means that unless you go back to making things properly before you release them you’ll eventually go out of business because you’ll be just as bad as Microsoft and there will be no reason for buyers to choose Apple over Microsoft… Business Law 101 I think it’s called… Work it out or go bust.. Thanks Kevin! Maybe you should apply for a job at Apple..

  7. Jennifer says:

    I deleted my email account from ipad and still can’t add the word – Inbox. Is there something else I can do to make this work?

  8. Janice Owen says:

    My son gave me his old iphone4. He had never had this problem but when I tried to delete emails it saud ‘Unable to move to trash.” I have tried what several people suggested on-line, none of them worked.
    I came across your advice for an ipad and it has worked on my phone. Brilliant, thank you so much!

  9. Ivan McGowen says:

    After deleting, the messages keep coming back. Server downloads them again. This latest update is horrible.

  10. My mum had had this problem since getting her iPad in May. After trawling the web, your instructions were the only ones that worked. Thanks for very clear instructions and she can delete to her heart’s content now!

  11. Hi Kevin,

    I’ve been living with this error message for more than a year, and today when I googled the error message, your site was the #1 result. I followed your instructions and it worked like a charm! Thanks for taking the time to post these helpful instructions!

    Steve

  12. Thank you!! I was never so happy to see a trash icon!! And your instructions were very easy to follow!

  13. Just got a new iPhone 5S and could not figure out why mail messages could not be moved to trash. This solved my problem – thanks!

  14. Stuart hemingway says:

    Kevin,

    Trying to fix ‘ unable to move message to trash’
    How can I tell if my email Is ‘Outlook’?

    Stuart Hemingway

  15. Transcend Engineering says:

    Not only did it fix the deletion problem, it also fixed the problem of draft emails not being saved so that one can come back to them to finish and send. Thank you for this tip!

  16. I had same problem. I set up an iCloud account, move emails I want to delete to the iCloud trash, then in iCloud account, select trash, edit, delete all, delete- bingo all gone. It has taken me a week of playing to find this solution.

  17. Worked on the first try – thank you so much!

  18. It worked brilliantly. Thank you.

  19. Thank you.
    Didn’t work initially. But on doing a power off and restart, it was fixed.

    Thanks again.

  20. Fixed the ‘unable to delete emails’ problem first time round. Very clear and accurate instructions. Thank you.

  21. With mail on, could not make any entry in IMAP Path Prefix. Had to first turn mail account off before going to Advanced; IMAP Path Prefix and entering INBOX, then closing and turning mail on once more. But it did work this way. Thanks!

  22. David Peatfield says:

    Many thanks,
    Instructions clear and problem resolved first time.

  23. I have tried the fix several times on my IPad and I continue to get the “cannot move” message. In fact, now when I try to move an email to one of my folders, instead of my list of folders appearing, all I get is an Inbox and Outbox listing.

    Please help, my email server Charter is now blocking my emails because my mailbox is full.

    Frustrated IPad emailer.

  24. I followed all instructions and it worked for my iPhone. I’m so happy. Thank you for taking the time to help out us needy tech people.

  25. This worked for me. I am currently using iphone 5 on iOS7.

  26. Frank Bishop says:

    Thanks for your very clear instructions. I have now cleared my unwanted emails without a problem.

    Good on you!!!! Manmy thanks.

  27. perfect solution, easy to follow, many thanks

  28. What a wonderful experience getting this problem solved with such clear instructions! Thank you, it worked perfectly and I am grateful.

  29. Rambo Ruiz says:

    Awesome just awesome.. Man I contacted my hosting provider and plans to contact Apple too but you are the man!! Thank you!

  30. Robert Wolfe says:

    After 4 attempts to execute this cure, nothing at all has changed. Still get the error . Any ideas? IPad 2; yahoo mail.

    • I had hotmail and Outlook took over. On iPad i can’t scroll my inbox on the pc view because when you attempt to scroll it opens the email you touch trying to scroll. In another view it only shows15 or 20 emails in the inbox with no apparent way to go further back in the inbox to access more or check inbox further.
      Kevin, Please help. ps, I didn’t know how to post a question so I’m trying this through a reply . heck , I’m old please understand..

  31. Worked perfectly, thanks so much!

  32. Judy Baker says:

    Thank you. This was so easy to do and it worked. The folks at the Apple Store didn’t have the answer so I am glad you did. Excellent instructions.

  33. Tom McManus says:

    I followed your instructions on my IPad, but I don’t see an IMAP prefix button.

    What now?

    • Kevin Craighead says:

      What type of email account do you have?

      • Tom McManus says:

        I have a yahoo.com and Verizon.net

      • Tom McManus says:

        I should mention that it seems to work ok using the trash icon while in the junk folder, however I was using the Edit button, selecting all the messages and would then get the error message.

        This is a recent happening in the past month or so, prior to that, no issues, and only on my IPAD

        • Kevin Craighead says:

          In order to fix the issue with Yahoo you have to delete the account from your iPad then create it again manually ie NOT using the big “Yahoo” button to add the account. When you manually add the account you get to update more settings than you do when you add it using the big buttons for Hotmail, Yahoo etc.

          You will find the instructions on how to add the email account to your iPhone manually here.

          Once you have done this return to this page and go through these instructions again.

          Good luck!

    • Kevin Craighead says:

      OK I have updated the instructions to take account of this issue. Basically you need to remove the email account from your iPhone and add it back manually. This process is described here

  34. Thank you for easy to follow instructions. It did the job!

  35. Joe walker says:

    How about explaining where the advanced command is!

    • Kevin Craighead says:

      The Advanced command appears at the very bottom. For eaxample if you are editing a gmail account you should see Name, Email, Password and Description in the top box. Underneath you should see SMTP in the Outgoing Mail server box. At the very bottom you should see ‘Advanced >’. Clicking this option you can change various setting such as SSL, Authentication and the IMAP Path Preference.

      I have checked this out on my Office365 account and when you setup you account using the ‘Microsoft Exchange’ option on the iPhone it doesn’t provide the Advanced button even though it is an IMAP connection. What kind of IMAP account are you trying to fix?

      • Helen robertson says:

        I get to out going mail server i hit advanced and dont see i map just 3 mail boxes and s/mime

        • Kevin Craighead says:

          What type of email account do you have?

          • Kevin Craighead says:

            OK I have updated the instructions to take account of this issue. Basically you need to remove the email account from your iPhone and add it back manually. This process is described here

  36. Top man, thanks!

  37. Sophia Mason says:

    Such a clear set of instructions. Thank you

  38. Neal Espeseth says:

    ” perfect, worked first time, clear, concise instructions” After one whole week of trying every hint and tip out there and hours of frustration I tried your solution. Thank you!

  39. I tried your solution on my iPad but the entry for my outlook.com mail account does not have an advanced command. Also the problem only shows up on my ipad my iPhone moves messages to trash without complaint.
    Any ideas?

  40. When I try these instructions I do not see an advanced button! I must be blind or something because it has worked for all of you?!

  41. Thea Wood says:

    First try, fixed! Tried three other “solutions” beforehand to no avail. Thank you!

  42. Your fix for moving messages to trash was right on. Thank you!,

  43. Linda Floyd says:

    Mail delete seems to be working as it should after I followed your directions. Thank you very much.

  44. This fix was great for both my ipad and my iPhone. Thanks!!!!

  45. fred mathis says:

    Very clear and concise instructions…worked! Thanks!

  46. William prior says:

    Thanks Kevin,this, ” Unable to move to trash. ” has annoyed me since I got this wonderful iPad min,i you have made a happy fellow Scot happier. Thanks again. Bill

  47. Thanks, a big help.

  48. Ad Balster says:

    Works … greatly appreciated.

  49. Worked great!!!

  50. Philip Wheeldon says:

    Hi there, Net Chimp,
    I’m afraid I’m not a ‘Tweeter’ or a ‘Facebooker’ so I can’t ‘Tweet’ about you or ‘Like’ you (that sounds rude – I don’t dislike you at all) but I can thank you very much for solving this problem for me. I just got myself an ipad mini and didn’t know how to get rid of my old emails so thanks again. If you have some time to think about another problem think about this… although I can receive emails on my ipad and iphone I can’t send emails on either machine. Nobody, including my isp seems to know the correct settings. Any ideas?
    Many thanks,
    Phil

  51. TJ Abrahamsen says:

    Thanks! It worked great on my iPad.

  52. THANK YOU SO SO MUCH. CRYSTAL CLEAR , MY FRUSTRATION LEVEL JUST TOOK A DIP !!

  53. Worked, thanks!

  54. Very useful; thank you

  55. Thanks you sir for your clear and precise help, sorted.

  56. Same with me, my ATT store where I just got my new iPhone 5 couldn’t fix this problem, neither could my ISP, and Apple said to try this, but it didn’t work. I think that I missed one step, and your instructions were PERFECT!
    I was able to delete the elusive emails and get rid of that nasty message.
    Thank you!
    I love your website, just found it tonight, and will pass it along to all my photoshop classmates and my CSS classmates too.
    Jane

  57. Worked perfectly, saved me some time messing about trying to resolve a problem I had not seen before, Thanks!.

  58. I am very appreciative of this soln. I went to my IT folks and to the MAC store for help with this problem and none of them were able to help in such a quick and effective fashion. Thank you!

  59. Bob Boulton says:

    This is the best most useful most understandable advice, certainly about the “UnBle To Move” problem on the iPhone. And, arguably the clearest fix advice I have seen about any issue, period. I am an iPhone neophyte. You are terrific. Please email me your website tips and anything else. You have earned my attention. Feel free to publish any or all of these comments. Bob.

  60. absolutely marvellous instructions to fix error message. Now can delete with no problem. Worked first time. Thanks. Highly recommended.

  61. My “can’t move messages to inbox trash” problem was fixed in one try! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  62. Thanks very much. This was awesome. This error has been irritating me for a while and all other solutions did not work. Sweeeeet.

  63. Jen backer says:

    What a great simple fix. Even a non techy lady like myself can do it!

  64. All good – thanks for that – great help

  65. The tip to be rid of the “can’t move messages to inbox trash” worked perfectly. Thanks!

  66. Thanks! Worked like a charm!

  67. James Davies says:

    The fix enabled delete but the message still comes up.

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