Some people get confused about how Gmail’s Inbox, Delete and Archive feature operate. So here is a quick primer.
Gmail is a widely used Email system.
It also allows you to easily sync your email between your web version and your mobile versions.
It also integrates with other Google applications, such as Google Tasks and Google Calendar.
But many people get a bit confused about how the design of Gmail.
Ok, let's dig into the details and show a few examples....
Understanding the Gmail Inbox:
In Gmail, as Emails arrive, they are automatically assigned the Inbox label.
So, your Inbox is just a folder that contains all Emails with the Inbox label.
But unlike other labels in Gmail, you can’t see the Inbox label when looking at your Inbox.
Any other label you have assigned to an Email will display, but not the Inbox label.
It is just hidden by default when you are looking at your Inbox.
Here is a quick look at my Gmail Inbox, but there is no indication of the Inbox label on the Email.
But if you select an Email in your Inbox and open it up, then you can see that the Inbox label.
There it is, happily assigned to your email!
So, your Inbox is just a view of all Emails with the Inbox label, but with the Inbox label magically hidden!
Got it? Simple!
Deleting and Archiving Messages:
Messages remain in your Inbox until you Delete or Archive them.
If you Delete an Email, it disappears from your Inbox.
Here is a simple Email sitting in my Inbox that I then select and Delete.
Actually, what is really happening is that it gets moved to the Trash folder.
Gmail does this by removing the Inbox label and adding the Trash label!
Here is what that same Email looks like now in my Trash:
You will see that it now has the Trash label assigned.
So Trash is a label just like everything else in Gmail!
But after 30 days, it is permanently removed from Gmail.
Kaput! Gone forever!
Remember, if you Delete, you are Deleting your entire Email Conversation!
And in Gmail (unlike Outlook), the entire Email message Thread (or conversation) is part of that one Email message.
So, when you delete an Email, you are deleting the entire chain of replies associated with the original Email.
So, make sure if you delete something, you really mean to delete it!
If you didn’t mean to Delete it, don’t panic (.. yet…), you still have 30 days.
Just go into the trash and select the Email.
You can either remove the trash label, which will put it back into your Inbox.
Or you can even drag it to any folder you want.
But instead of Deleting, Archive!
If there is any chance you may need the Email again, don't Delete it, Archive it instead!
This is especially important for business communications you may need to retain.
Remember, storage is cheap these days! Especially for cloud-based systems like Gmail.
So, what happens when you hit Archive?
All it really does is remove the Inbox label from the Email.
If you assigned other labels to the Email, you can find it in those folders.
Here is an Email sitting in my Inbox.
I then go ahead and hit "Archive".
It is gone from my Inbox - out of sight, out of mind!
But if you ever need to find it again, you can always find it by searching for it.
You can always find Archived messages by searching your All Mail folder.
So, there you have it.
A simple overview of how to better understand how the Inbox, Trash, and Archive feature all work in Gmail!
It’s actually very simple in design, but many people get confused about what is really happening when you hit “Delete” or “Archive”.
Hopefully, this helps explain the way things work a bit better.