How can I delete an email in Mac Mail instantly without moving it to the trash? I don't want to look at the spam crap twice :-)

UPDATE: I want to do this because I have some very old mails in my trash I don't want to delete at the moment (or decide what to do with). So I cannot delete my whole trash. But to avoid the trash becoming bigger and bigger I want to delete spam etc. without moving to trash...

  • I have the same issue. Due to a server error I have 25000 emails in a folder. I want to delete them instantly not move them all to the Trash folder. Commented Jul 12, 2012 at 18:21
  • 1
    Given your reason for not emptying Trash I would create a new folder and move the questionable messages from trash to it to allow you to review them
    – mmmmmm
    Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 18:16

5 Answers 5


Why look in the trash at all? Just set your Trash to automatically delete messages after a day. You can do that in the Accounts pane of preferences:

Accounts pane


You can delete emails and bypass the trash using

⌥ Option + ⌫ Backspace

(Successfully tested with OS X 10.9 (Mavericks). Could work with older versions, too.)

If you want to delete emails that are already in trash it is enough to hit ⌫ Backspace to delete them permanently. If you are accustomed to also press the ⌘ Command, like deleting a file in Finder, you can do so. But basically, backspace is enough.

  • still work on mojave
    – ndasusers
    Commented Jun 10, 2019 at 14:49

All you have to do is any of the following:

  • hold down the Option key, while clicking on the trash can on the top toolbar
  • hold down the Option key, while clicking on 'delete' on the top menubar
  • hold down the Option key, while right-clicking on the desired emails and scroll down to select 'delete'
  • hold down the Option key, while pressing the Delete key on your keyboard.
  • Welcome to Ask Different! Answers are for directly answering the question being asked—use comments to reply to another user's answer.
    – grg
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 18:35
  • I would have, George but, being a newbie, I'm not allowed to comment...yet. Sorry...I'll learn.
    – cstaley
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 18:42

A very old tip (2006) from MacWorld suggests using ⌘ Command+X to cut the messages and then just copying some text to wipe the clipboard. This seems to work, but Mail.app tries to copy the contents of those emails to memory - so probably not very useful for lots of mails with attachments.


Delete the message:

Then empty the trash:

  • 1
    I think the questioner wants to avoid the trash completely. Commented Jul 12, 2012 at 18:21

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