Gmail Archive vs Delete: What are Archive and Delete?

Archive vs Delete Gmail
Archive vs Delete Gmail

This section will give you the Archive and Delete overviews. When you finish reading this section, you will have a deeper impression of these 2 features.

Archive in Gmail

Archive is a Gmail feature that removes the emails you selected from your Inbox to the “All Mail” folder or other folders for archive purposes. Archiving emails to other folders helps you clear your Inbox and keep the selected emails in another place instead of deleting them.

The archived emails can be also searched, read, and replied to by yourself. If you need, you can restore the archived emails to Inbox, too. Besides, the archived emails will not be deleted.

Delete in Gmail

Using the Delete feature, the emails you selected will be moved from your Inbox to the “Trash” folder. If you don’t restore or manually delete the emails in Trash, they will be permanently deleted after 30 days. And when the emails are permanently deleted, they can’t be searched or read in Gmail.

When you delete an email, you can only find it in the Trash folder for 30 days. But you should notice that, if you delete a conversation, all the messages included in this conversation will be deleted, too.

Gmail Archive vs Delete: What is the Difference?

This section will further discuss what is the difference between Delete and Archive by summarising their key differences, illustrating when to use them, and showing how to use them separately.

3 Key Differences Between Archive vs Delete in Gmail

  • The archived emails will be moved to the “All Mail” folder or other folders while the deleted emails will be in the “Trash” folder only.
  • If you choose to delete an email, this email will be cleared out of your Gmail after 30 days. On the contrary, if you archive an email, this email is just moved to another place in Gmail, not being deleted. This email still occupies some space in your Gmail.
  • After an email is deleted, you can’t conduct any operation on the email like printing this email and you can’t even find it in Gmail. However, the archived emails are the same as those Inbox emails, except for the place they are in.

Gmail Archive vs Delete: When to Use?

So, when to use Archive and when to use Delete? There are some scenarios that you may take as references.

What is Archive Good for?

  • You can use the Archive feature when you want your Inbox to focus on new emails. By Archive, you are allowed to remove some old emails from the Inbox that you don’t want to delete because you think they may make sense the other day.
  • Because the archived emails are stored in one specific folder like the “All Email” folder, it is good for collecting some frequently used or significant emails in one place by which emails will be easier to find.
  • When you want to free up the Inbox space, you can archive some unimportant emails to other folders.

What is Delete Good for?

  • When you think the emails are no longer useful for you, you can delete them.
  • Some emails may be spam and may harm your Gmail security. It would be better to delete these emails.
  • If you want to free up Gmail storage, deleting some emails that you don’t want to keep is a good choice.

Gmail Archive vs Delete: How to Use?

Now, you know the differences between Archive and Delete, and when to use these 2 features. To further compare them, let’s see how they perform in Gmail.

How to Archive Emails in Gmail?

Step 1: Open Gmail and log in to your account.

Step 2: Select the emails in the Inbox that you want to archive and click the “Archive” icon in the upper bar. Then these emails will be migrated to another folder (most probably the “All Mail” folder).

Archive Gmail Emails
Archive Gmail Emails

How to Delete Archived Emails in Gmail?

Step 1: Open “All Mail”, find the archived emails that you want to delete, and tick the emails

Step 2: Click the “Delete” icon in the upper bar and the selected emails are moved to the “Trash” folder.

Delete Emails in Gmail
Delete Emails in Gmail

Note: If you want to thoroughly delete these emails, you can tick them in the “Trash” folder and click “Delete forever”.

Delete the Gmail Email Forever
Delete the Gmail Email Forever

Bonus Tip: How to Download Gmail Emails as PDFs via MultCloud

Except for the comparison of Gmail Archive vs Delete, this post would like to offer you a new way to save emails. If you want to free up your Gmail storage but are afraid of losing some important emails, you may download these emails to a hard drive. In this way, you can also access the emails on your hard drive even though you delete them in Gmail. Also, emails can be archived in a more organized way since you can put them in the folders or subfolders named by yourself.

MultCloud is no doubt the best free cloud management service that supports downloading Gmail emails to a hard drive as PDFs.

  • By MultCloud Email Migration, you don't have to use the Gmail Print feature that can only export an email as a PDF but batch-export several emails at once. 
  • Using MultCloud Download to export emails is not a solitary task. You can decide whether to export attachments or not and how the email messages are shown in the PDFs. 

The steps for using Email Download are as follows.

Step 1: Plug your hard drive into the computer and change the browser’s downloading destination to your hard drive in the browser settings.

Step 2: Enter MultCloud and create an account for free.

Step 3: Add Gmail by clicking “Add Email” and the Gmail icon. Then a pop-up window would appear which requires you to log in to your Gmail account in it.

Add Gmail to MultCloud
Add Gmail to MultCloud

Step 4: Open Gmail and select the emails you want to download. Then click “Download” in the upper bar.

Click Download
Click Download

Step 5: Name the downloading package and click “OK”. All the operations that you need to do are completed.

Download Gmail Emails as PDFs
Download Gmail Emails as PDFs

Downloading Settings:

  • Save Attachments: The attachments of the selected emails will be downloaded, too.
  • Conversation Format: If there are several messages in an email, these messages will be listed individually.
  • Save the last message only: If there is more than one message in an email, only the last message will be displayed in a single form and other messages will be shown as quotations.


  • As a free user, you can convert 50 emails into PDFs at most every month. If you want to convert more emails in a month, you can become a VIP user so that the amount may be unlimited, and you can export up to 200 emails at once.
  • You can also use another MultCloud function called Email Migration to save Gmail emails to Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud Drive, or another cloud. It is also a direct process and the operations are easy to master: Add Gmail and a cloud to MultCloud > Create an Email Migration task > Start migrating.
Save Gmail Emails to Dropbox
Save Gmail Emails to Dropbox


This post compares Gmail Archive vs Delete from the perspectives of their overviews, application scenarios, and usages. Besides, if you want to save emails on a hard drive, there is a recommended way for you which is using MultCloud Email Migration. By it, Gmail emails can be easily transferred to your hard drive as PDFs.

What’s more, you can find other functions on MultCloud like Cloud Sync, Cloud Transfer, and Cloud Backup. Unlike Email Download and Email Migration, they are used to transfer files from cloud to cloud. If you have the relevant needs, try them now.


How long do archived emails stay in Gmail?

In Gmail, archived emails stay indefinitely unless manually deleted by the user. Archiving removes emails from the inbox but retains them in the "All Mail" section, allowing users to access them later without cluttering the main inbox.

How do I clean up Archive in Gmail?

To clean up your Gmail archive, search for emails you want to remove, select them, and then click the "Delete" button. Alternatively, open "All Mail," select emails, and delete. Remember, this permanently deletes emails, so be cautious and consider using labels or folders for organization.

What is the point of Gmail Archive?

The Gmail archive serves to declutter your inbox without permanently deleting emails. Archived emails are moved out of the inbox but remain searchable and accessible in the "All Mail" section. It helps organize emails you don't need in your immediate view but may require later.

How do I change Gmail from Archive to Delete?

To change Gmail's default behavior from archiving to deleting, go to Gmail Settings > General > Archive Behavior. Choose "Move to Trash" to make the delete action the default when you want to remove emails from your inbox.

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