I am looking for a way to keep using the Gmail "Conversation" view, and be able to hit the Trash icon (not archive) to throw away the whole conversation, but still keep any "Sent" messages under the "Sent" label. I want to get rid of the rest of the conversation, but keep any messages I've authored or forwarded.

My research so far doesn't show this is possible. I understand there is only one copy of each message, and trashing the conversation trashes all the messages in the conversation view (including my sent contributions).

I'm looking for some combination of filter rules, or a setting option, which basically says "Don't trash Sent messages when trashing a conversation."

Perhaps a filter that says "If a message goes in to Trash, and has the 'Sent' tag, move it out of trash and Archive it instead."

Any ideas appreciated.

  • You do know that you can delete individual messages from a conversation, right?
    – ale
    Commented May 25, 2018 at 17:59
  • 1
    Of course, but that's not what I want. I'm done with the conversation, and don't care about it, so I want to single-click delete the conversation. simple, right? But I also want to have a copy of all my sent messages. Deleting individual messages is a pain in a long, multi-party conversation. I don't think my use case is that unusual.
    – JesseM
    Commented May 25, 2018 at 22:06

1 Answer 1


There has got to be a better way, but I've found a clunky work-around. Sharing it here in case others have the same problem I do.

  1. go to settings (the gear icon) and turn conversation view off, then save changes
  2. search for "in:trash from:me"
  3. select all the individual messages you want to save (they are already invisibly part of 'Sent' we just want to keep them from going away as part of the trashed conversation)
  4. move them to Inbox (this gets the messages but not the conversation out of Trash)
  5. search for "from:me in:inbox" and select them again
  6. hit the Archive button
  7. Go back to settings to re-enable Conversation view and save changes

Doing this once every 30 days will save your sent messages while still allowing you to delete whole "conversation" threads.

As I said, there has to be an easier way, but this seems to work for now.

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