If I delete one or more email messages in Mutt and then say no when it asks (when changing folders or quitting the program) if I want to purge the deleted messages, what does Mutt do with them?

After quitting the program and exiting the terminal, then the next time I login to email with Mutt, they (the messages marked for deletion but never purged) no longer show up in the message lists, but the purge was never run. Where are they?

I am checking mail via IMAP.

  • Thanks for the information. I don't see them there either. I have not specifically setup any directions for deleted messages in the .muttrc file, so I wonder if they are not correctly being directed to the IMAP Trash. Could they be on the local system anywhere?
    – user981178
    Jul 18, 2013 at 23:32
  • The only program that appears to be using ~/Mail is Sylpheed.
    – user981178
    Jul 18, 2013 at 23:41
  • Is there any chance that Mutt automatically purges the messages marked for deletion when you quit the program, even if you say no to purge when you quit?
    – user981178
    Jul 19, 2013 at 0:34
  • 1
    IMAP delete does not move the messages anywhere, it just marks for deletion. It is possible that the server, or a client you use, is set up to expunge deleted messages when you disconnect, but if not, they should still be there, albeit marked as deleted. I don't use Mutt so I can't tell you whether it's able to display deleted messages, though.
    – tripleee
    Jul 19, 2013 at 13:58

1 Answer 1


If you deleted the messages without configuring the .muttrc properly. they are gone. You just need to add this line so to let mutt know where to move deleted messages:

set trash = +'Deleted Items'

For example, I use Outlook and my folder for deleted messages is 'Deleted Items'.

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