I have an email that I keep moving to trash and my phone tells me after I've moved it some hours later it's unable to move the message.

How can I get rid of this email?

  • Which mail provider do you use?
    – mmmmmm
    Jan 24, 2017 at 11:55
  • iCloud.com is what I use Jan 24, 2017 at 15:17
  • iCloud.com is what I use Jan 24, 2017 at 15:44

2 Answers 2


I had this issue and found quite a few solutions, from adjusting the settings in the mail app, reviewing the server settings up to deleting the email account altogether from my iphone. I tried and reviewed all (except for the removing of the email account) and came to a solution which worked for me:

1 - went to the account settings that was giving me the issue and changed the "Sync" period to 1 day. (Settings / Mail / Accounts / <email account> / Sync Mail)

2 - get our of the settings and open the mail app. Wait for it to sync, once the account is synced, the emails you wished to be removed will still be there, but just delete them (again).

3 - you will still receive the "message could not be moved to the trash" notification, however, the messages will not return to your inbox (as they did previously).

4 - wait a couple of days to go back to your settings and change the sync period to whatever you like.

This worked for me and I believe it should work for anybody which the previous solutions did not work with.

For me I believe it was an issue when I deleted the emails both from the server and the iphone mail client when it (the iphone) was not connected to the internet.

Anyway I hope this helps!

  • Of course this is assuming the messages are older than one day... forgot to mention that.
    – TVDN
    Feb 17, 2017 at 1:20

When this issue occurs it usually means that the Mail client on your device is having difficulty syncing with the email service provider's server. I've noticed that this issue occurs most often when trying to delete a very large (50+) amount of emails at once rather than a few at a time (but this is not always the case), or when your network connection is spotty or was interrupted.

How most mail clients (applications) work:

When you select a message and tell it to 'Move to Trash' the Mail.app puts it in the local Trash within the Mail.app first. Next, it's supposed to send a signal to the mail server to tell it to place the copy of that message that's hosted on the server into the Trash on the server. This usually happens within seconds, and you don't usually notice the delay. However, if for some reason the connection to the mail server is poor or interrupted, this can cause the server to not receive the signal sent from the Mail.app to delete the message(s) off of the server. The same issue can occur when simply trying to empty the trash as well, or when moving messages from one folder to another within the account. (Usually when one action doesn't work the others have difficulty as well.)

To resolve the issue:

For most accounts the first thing you would do is ensure that all of the account settings are correct in 'Settings > Mail > Accounts' - cross-referencing them with the ones provided by your email service provider - but because we're working with an iCloud account these settings are automatically configured.

This leaves us with two options:

  1. Navigate to iCloud.com from a web browser on a computer, login, and then delete the messages that are giving you trouble right from the source. Remember to empty the Trash from the settings icon in the bottom left when you're done. This will fix the immediate issue, but it doesn't always prevent the issue from re-occurring in the future.
  2. Disable the iCloud mail feature from 'Settings > iCloud' by turning off the 'Mail' switch, restarting your iPhone, and then re-enabling it. It may take a few minutes for your messages to re-appear in the Mail.app upon the first launch as it has to re-sync everything with the iCloud servers.

For best results, we can combine both steps. Turn off iCloud Mail on your iPhone from 'Settings > iCloud', then go to iCloud.com and delete any messages you no longer want (remembering to empty the Trash from the settings icon in the bottom left when you're done). Restart your iPhone and then re-enable iCloud Mail from 'Settings > iCloud' on your iPhone. This will make it so that the current messages you don't want on your iPhone will never sync to it in the first place.

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