How to restore the delete function to the Android Gmail app

For reasons beyond my comprehension, Google's latest Android Gmail app defaults to archiving messages instead of deleting them. Fortunately, it's easy to fix.

There I was, innocently fiddling with my Gmail while waiting for a movie to start Friday night on my Motorola Droid 4 Android smartphone, when I tried to delete a message... and I discovered that the latest update to the Android Gmail program wasn't letting me delete messages. What the heck?


Instead the app was defaulting to archiving my messages. I didn't want this. A lot of people didn't want this.

A typical user response to the change read, "Why take away the delete button? Getting 100s of emails daily, I use my phone to delete while waiting in lines and other places. Please bring the delete button back. Having to do the two steps is a drag." Agreed!

You could wait to see if Google will change its top-level menu choice to letting you easily delete messages again or you can do it yourself. Fortunately, it's an easy fix.

Simply go to Settings on your Android device and head to General Settings. Once there, select "Archive & delete actions." This will give you three options: Show archive only; Show delete only; or Show archive and delete. If, like me, you just want to go back to deleting messages while you're standing in line, just pick delete. Then back out to the main application. Your new setting should automatically be saved.  You'll once once more be  to dump your unwelcome messages into  the trash can icon.

If you want, as I do, you can also set your Gmail so that you can delete, or archive, messages by swiping them from the inbox top-level view. You do this by selecting "Swipe to delete" from the General settings menu. 

Scared you'll delete an important message? Don't worry. By default, Gmail won't permanently get rid of a message for 30 days. Your recently "deleted" messages are actually kept under the Trash label. From there you can return them to the inbox or some other folder.

If you're really afraid of zapping messages, you can can add suspenders to your e-mail safey belt by  going to the Action Confirmations section of General Settings and click on "Confirm before deleting."

Me? I never confirm before deleting and I may pull a message out of Gmail's virtual trash can once every two or three months. I much prefer being able to throw my mail out without an hassle than keeping unwanted mail lying around.

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