Is it possible to lock some emails so that we don't accidentally delete them? I know that I can put star and mark as important and create search criteria in such a way that no starred message or important or messages marked with certain label are not returned, but I'm curious to know if it is possible to lock or prevent some messages from accidental deletion.

I use Gmail for most of my email communications. Hence, I have hundreds of emails. Sometimes I get a feel to cleanup my inbox and try to delete them by searching by some criteria. However, there are times I get some important emails in the search results and accidentally delete them. I only realise this after few days/months and have no way of getting them back.

  • 3
    Place labels on emails you want to keep.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Jan 5, 2014 at 3:34
  • Items aren't deleted from Trash for 30 days, so you have that amount of time at least to recover accidental deletions.
    – ale
    Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 14:58
  • 1
    None fo the answers below are actual solutions. What we need is a setting in Gmail that says "Always Archive" or "Do not allow deletion". Commented Nov 8, 2018 at 15:15

5 Answers 5


You can obviously create a label and mark it as don't delete. But the problem with accidents is that they happen when we forget to include the label.

The only absolute way of preventing from deleting accidentally in Gmail for now, is to follow two mail box approach. I have created another email address which I never give it to anyone. Any emails that I want to keep safe, I forward them to the other secret email address.

Only accident proof approach for now. Please don't ask if you forgot to send the email to this other account.


It’s easy. Create new label like nodelete and apply it whenever you want to protect a message. Now, when you do the cleanup, always include this in your search criteria:


And be sure that important messages won’t show up in searches. You could also create filters to automatically classify certain emails as nodelete.


The easiest method is don't delete emails. Use labels to categorize emails, then archive them so they don't appear in the inbox, but still exist in your account. Remember archiving is just the removal on the inbox label.

Any email that you know you never want to see again, attach a label to it like tobedeleted. If you have tens of thousand of messages, or many large messages so that the you are running out of space; you can delete any message with the label tobedeleted.


Here is an approach which doesn't protect you from accidentally removing an email from Gmail but it does protect you from losing the information: you can set up your system to download automatically all Google emails to your local hard disk for safe storage. Thus, even if you delete it on Google, you will still have a copy.

You can do this by enabling pop access in the Gmail options (go to "Settings" then to "Forwarding and POP/IMAP", then enable POP). Then set up fetchmail or an equivalent program to automatically, possibly as a cronjob, download all your emails from Google.

For help doing this under Windows:


You could also use the advantage of using another e-mail address of yours-just store copies of all the essential messages in it.

  • Same as previous answer since Jan 5 '14 at 17:35 Commented Nov 10, 2018 at 17:29
  • 1
    I think you are getting negative votes because you essentially answered same as another answer, without adding anything else.
    – Buddha
    Commented Nov 10, 2018 at 17:30

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