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IMAP Gmail- Empty trash on Thunderbird but not Gmail server?

  • 6 replies
  • 1 has this problem
  • 11 views
  • Last reply by DeElmo

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I've been using Thundbird forever, but as a POP3 client. A recent file corruption and subsequent loss of a large catalog of emails I've been saving for well over a decade has lead me to transition to IMAP.

I like to empty my trash in thunderbird frequently (I had it set to empty on close before, and even then I'd empty if I had a large amount of emails sitting in the trash) as it makes it easier to find something I may have recently trashed but haven't emptied yet. I like having the trash in Gmail stay for the normal 30 days though as somewhat of a backup, in case I have to reference anything I've trashed and emptied from Thunderbird.

Is it possible, in IMAP mode, to empty the trash on thunderbird without also emptying the trash in Gmail? In other words, I want to delete them from my computer, but not the server, and let the server auto-delete them after 30 days as normal.

Chosen solution

I came looking for an answer to your original question (so thank you for asking it!) in case you haven't figured it out already, here's how you can automate the move to "temp Trash":

Account Settings --> Server Settings --> Server Settings (this is a subheading in Server Settings) --> When I delete a message: -->Move it to this folder --> Choose Folder --> temp Trash

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Not possible. Client and server actions are mirrored in IMAP. This is what mainly sets it apart from POP.

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So I came up with a solution of sorts. I created a new folder and titled it Temp Trash, and move all of the stuff I don't want to there for review, then when I'm sure I select all and hit the delete button which sends them to IMAP trash, which google holds for 30 days.

May sound weird, but when I'm away for a while and have to slog through dozens of messages, its nice to do a quick run through and trash everything that's clearly garbage, then sift through the real messages, then organize what remains into appropriate folders, having an empty Inbox is satisfying for me. When I'm doing this with bulk messages, I like to give what I've trashed a once-over again before "permanently" deleting it to make sure I didn't accidently trash something.

What I need to do now is find a way to add a "move to" button on the tool bar where the "delete" button is, to saving having to manually drag messages to "temp Trash".

Modified by kolarskeet

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Chosen Solution

I came looking for an answer to your original question (so thank you for asking it!) in case you haven't figured it out already, here's how you can automate the move to "temp Trash":

Account Settings --> Server Settings --> Server Settings (this is a subheading in Server Settings) --> When I delete a message: -->Move it to this folder --> Choose Folder --> temp Trash

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Superb, thanks so much. I was just thinking about this a day or two ago. It actually "deletes" (to temp trash) quite a bit quicker now.

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I discovered an issue with this (I think I discovered the same thing in the past which is why I didn't chose to do it).

If you delete items out of temp trash (using the delete button), they are just deleted, they don't go into imap trash, just gone for good, can't even CTRL-Z to undo.

Not a big deal to what I trashed today, but for this to be viable I'd have to change my habit and drag/drop into imap trash from temp trash, and not hit delete again when in temp trash.

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kolarskeet said

I discovered an issue with this (I think I discovered the same thing in the past which is why I didn't chose to do it). If you delete items out of temp trash (using the delete button), they are just deleted, they don't go into imap trash, just gone for good, can't even CTRL-Z to undo. Not a big deal to what I trashed today, but for this to be viable I'd have to change my habit and drag/drop into imap trash from temp trash, and not hit delete again when in temp trash.


Hmmm... Is your temp trash a subfolder of your inbox? I would have thought that trying to delete a nessage in temp trash via the delete key wouldn't do anything to it (because it would delete it back into temp trash) and that when you were ready to permanently delete it you'd have to use shift-delete or manually move it into the trash. (did that make any sense?)

 I'm very new to imap myself and don't really understand the ins and outs of how it works.  Are any messages (other than those you've moved to local folders) actually stored on your computer with imap?

Modified by DeElmo