Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Marking IMAP emails as deleted in Outlook 2010

We’ve recently moved from Outlook 2007 to 2010 at work, along with the move to Windows 7. Our email system is IMAP-based, largely for historical reasons, and doesn’t use Exchange (even if Outlook is the recommended desktop email client).

With Outlook 2010, Microsoft made some changes to the way IMAP accounts are handled, which are detailed in its Better IMAP in Outlook 2010 blog post. I would, however, debate whether ‘better’ is the right word – ‘different’ would be more suited.

In Outlook 2010, by default, messages that are deleted in IMAP folders will go to a ‘Deleted Items’ folder. Which is fine in your own inbox, but not so good when you are accessing a shared folder. We have a number of shared IMAP folders that several people can access, so we need to know which emails have been deleted.

With other email clients, and versions of Outlook up to and including 2007, deleted emails stayed in the folder but had a line through them (strikethrough formatting), and stayed until the folder was purged or expunged. This makes it much easier to see if an email has been dealt with.

Screenshot of Deleted Items settings in Outlook 2010

Thankfully, you can make Outlook 2010 revert to this behaviour, although it’s a two stage process. Firstly, you need to tell Outlook not to move deleted messages to the Deleted Items folder. Click the Orange ‘File’ button in the top-left corner, and then choose the ‘Account Settings’ button (on the ‘Info’ tab). Once the Account Settings dialog box has opened, highlight your email account and select the ‘Change’ button, then click ‘More Settings’. The box pictured above will appear; here, select the ‘Deleted Items’ tab, and select ‘Mark items for deletion but do not move them automatically’. I would also untick ‘Purge items when switching folders while online’ as well. Click OK, then Next, and the Close, to go back to your email.

Mail views in Outlook 2010

The next problem that you may encounter is that Outlook hides these deleted emails by default. Select the ‘View’ tab from the ribbon, and then click ‘Change View’ which is the first button on the toolbar. Change this from ‘Hide Messages’ to ‘IMAP Messages’. You should now see emails that have been deleted.

Now, to expunge (permanently delete) these emails, select the ‘Folder’ tab in the ribbon, and then select the ‘Purge’ button.

I’m a little peeved that Microsoft have changed this, and then made it difficult to change it back, but at least it’s possible. Of course, it could just be a cunning plot to encourage IT departments to switch to Exchange or Office 365, but that may just be me being cynical.


  1. thank you so much for this post! you have really made things easier for me. I have been looking for this for ages!!!!! God bless you!