After setting up push Gmail on mobile phone devices such as iPhone, Nokia Symbian and Windows Mobile via Google Sync which uses Exchange ActiveSync protocol, one of the annoying behaviors is that when deleting email messages, the emails are archived and moved to “All Mail” folder, instead of actually been deleted or moved to “Trash” folder.

The “delete is archive” on Google Sync configured on smartphone devices is a known limitation (or rather a feature), as currently only archiving is supported on Inbox and other mailbox folders (labels), even if user manually choose to move the mail to “Trash” ([Gmail]\Trash) folder.

What actually happens is that Google simply remove any labels that tagged with the messages when deleted during synchronization (but does not add a Trash label), causing the deleted mails to archive to “All Mail”. The mail is still moved to “Deleted Items” on the phone, and will vanish from the phone only in the next sync. As a result, the mail is archived in Gmail, and can show up on web-based interface if it’s in a conversation that has a message in the Inbox.

Note that push Gmail (which relies on Exchange ActiveSync EAS protocol) is not the same with pull Gmail (which relies on IMAP protocol – default Gmail account creation in iOS uses IMAP). With the IMAP, the delete email works as expected and sends the e-mails to Trash bin, although in some devices such as iOS iPhone, iTouch and iPad, it’s possible to set and configure the option for Mail app to decide whether to delete or archive the email messages for deletion.

For users who insists on using push Gmail capability, here’s a workaround to actually delete the email messages instead of archiving email messages (a real delete), when you want to delete the messages:

  1. Go to Google Sync configuration page on the mobile phone device, and enable the sync for All Mail folder.

    Hint: Depending on mobile devices, option may appear under different name. On iPhone, iTouch and iPad, go to “Mail, Contacts, Calendars”, select the push Gmail account, and go to “Mail Folders to Push”. Some clients may use “Manage Folders”.

    Note: This step is not necessary if you can wait for mails to be pulled when the “All Mail” folder is opened.

  2. On mobile phone such as iPhone, open the message in the “All Mail” folder, and then delete it or move it to Trash. The e-mail will be moved to “Trash” on Gmail, instead of archiving it.

Alternatively, create a new label such as “*Gmail Bin” or “*Gmail Trash” (* asterisk is not necessary, but place it in front ensure that the label always comes out on top of the list). The new label will appear as a folder in mobile client. Move any emails that wanted to be deleted into the folder. Then, log on to Gmail and select all messages with the label and delete them.