I was using my iPhone to check my email when I deleted a message and got an error message that said “Unable to Move Message. The message could not be moved to the mailbox Trash”.
No matter how many times I tried it wouldn’t delete the message and this annoying pop-up error appeared.
After living with the issue for a few months I decided to do some research and find out why this happens, and how to fix it.
3 fixes for being unable to delete email messages from your device
I found that there are 3 methods to resolving this issue.
All of these methods will work on all iOS and iPadOS based devices so feel free to follow the same procedure regardless of whether you use:
- iPod Touch
The repair methods are:
- Method 1: Change the IMAP Path in iOS email (Try this first)
- Method 2: Change from Wi-Fi to cellular data
- Method 3: Delete email account and add it back again
Of the 3 reasons, the most common is the first one – the wrong path – which is why I suggest you try this method first.
The IMAP Path prefix instructs your email program where to put deleted messages.
By default, Apple sets this as a backslash / which means ‘root’. However many email programs do not actually store the messages in the root or don’t have permission to do so which results in the error.
To fix it you need to provide the correct prefix path that allows your email program to move the message from your inbox into the deleted messages folder.
If you always have the error popping up and you can never manage to erase emails from your phone then this is the best solution for you.
This video shows how to change the IMAP path prefix, alternatively, you can use the easy-to-follow steps which describe the process in more detail underneath.
1. Press the Home button and choose Settings.
2. Scroll down and click Mail, Contacts, Calendars.
3. Tap your email account.
4. Scroll to the bottom and click Advanced.
5. Scroll to the bottom and tap the empty IMAP Path 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.
7. Press the Home button and then re-open Mail.
8. You will now be able to delete or move your emails on your iPhone.
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 use POP3 to access your email account.
It should work if you use Microsoft Exchange services such as Office365.
Another common reason for being unable to delete messages is having a poor quality WiFi or cellular connection to the internet.
You need a good quality connection so your phone can instruct your email server to move the message.
If the connection is dropped whilst attempting to do this then the message won’t delete and you will get an error message.
This solution is more suitable if you have an intermittent problem deleting emails.
If sometimes you can delete messages and other times you can’t then you should follow the instructions below:
1. Tap Settings
2. Tap Wi-Fi
3. Turn Wi-Fi off and then back on again using the switch at the top
This will ensure you have a good quality Wi-Fi signal that allows communications with your email.
If you have tried the other methods and you are still struggling then it may be that your email account on your device has become corrupt.
To fix it you need to remove your email account, then add it back again.
This is often the first thing that people try but in reality, it is probably the least likely cause. It’s actually a last resort when all else fails.
Don’t panic you are not going to delete all your email messages. You are simply removing them from your phone.
When you recreate your email account on your phone it will sync all the content from your mailbox giving you back all your old messages.
To remove your email account from your device do the following:
1. Tap ‘Settings’
2. Tap ‘Passwords and Accounts’
3. Tap the email account that has the issue
4. At the very bottom tap ‘Delete Account’. Don’t worry, deleting your account from your iPhone or iPad does not delete all the email’s within the mailbox.
5. Reboot your iPhone or iPad
6. Add the account back again by clicking ‘Settings’
7. Click Passwords and Accounts’
8. Tap ‘Add Account’
9. Use the on-screen wizard to add your email account to the iPhone or iPad again.
Who does this issue apply to?
If you have an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch and you use IMAP to access your email then you can suffer from this bug.
If you use POP3 to access your email server then the issues covered in this article do not apply to you because POP3 connects to your email server in a completely different way.
So if you are using POP3 then this article will not help you with your issue.
But how can you tell if you use IMAP or POP3?
Well, IMAP tends to be used in corporate email accounts and are ran on Microsoft Exchange or Microsoft Office 365.
In addition, you can tell you are using IMAP if you are able to read, reply, or delete messages on your computer and when you look at your phone the same messages are read, replied to, or deleted automatically.
In other words, your phone and computer email accounts are synchronized.
Apple has worked hard on the Mail App on the latest release of iOS, with the method to access the settings changed. It is likely that they have also addressed this issue too as the number of people affected by this seems to have reduced steadily in the recent past.
However, many people are ‘stuck’ on older releases of iOS so it may be a problem for those with older iPhone’s and iPad’s.
Oddly, this issue has been around for a long time and it appears that it has taken Apple 5 or 6 years to finally get round to fixing it properly.
If you are using iOS 12 and still receive this error message and you have tried this fix then please leave a comment. I’d love to know if it is still valid with the latest version of iOS.
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