“My iPhone keeps downloading all old mail. I would like to find a way to stop my old mail messages from being loaded when I delete the newer messages on iPhone.”

If you have this trouble and want to prevent iPhone from downloading too many old emails onto your iPhone, then this iPhone email guide is right for you. There are different ways to prevent a ton of messages from cluttering up your mail inboxes on iPhone.

#1. Stop iPhone Downloading Old Emails – Limit emails to a certain amount

iphone email tips and tricks

Note: since iOS 7, this feature was not available any more!

From iPhone, if you go to your mail boxes through the default Mail app, you will see the update date of the current email account at the bottom. But if you have more messages available on your mail server that can be downloaded and viewed, you can scroll all the way down to the bottom of the inbox, there will be a Load More Messages … link you can tap to load more emails from server to your iPhone.

For example,

Load More Messages …

270 messages total, 210 unread.

It shows that more emails are available to download, the number of all emails and how many of them you have not read on your iPhone. You can click the load more messages button to download more messages.

You can only show a certain number of emails to display on iPhone. To set it up or change the settings, go to Settings >> Mail, Contacts, Calendars >> Mail >> Show, tap on it and you can select how many recent messages that you want the iPhone to display. The minimum is 50 most recent messages, then 100, 200, 500, 1000, etc. If you restrict to show the 50 most recent messages, your iPhone will only download 50 emails from server. Unless you delete some downloaded emails and no new incoming emails, will the Mail app start downloading old email from the mail server. This is a way to make iPhone stop downloading all old email from the mail server.

#2. Stop iPhone Downloading Old Emails to Inbox – create folders for old emails on mail server

You can actually create new folders on your mail server, then move all old or read emails to the new folder and leave only those unread emails in the inbox folder. So when you set up the email account on iPhone, your iPhone download those unread new emails from your mail server to the mail inbox folder on iPhone. When the non-inbox folder and emails under it downloaded, you know you have read them, so you can simply ignore them on your iPhone.

Please note, other folders and emails beneath them can also be downloaded on to your iPhone, but your iPhone will not calculate them as unread in the inbox. Best of all, email folders other than the inbox will not download new emails automatically unless you have enable push for them manually. By default iPhone will only enable push for the inbox folder. So emails from other folders will be downloaded from mail server to iPhone only when you open this specific folder in the Mail app for iOS.

Also if like you can also mark all emails as read on a folder on iPhone. See the tips at the bottom page for the instructions.

#3. Stop iPhone Downloading Old Emails to Inbox – set up as IMAP other than POP3

When set up a new email account on iPhone, you can choose to set it up on the IMAP protocol. See this page set up IMAP mail on iPhone.

IMAP allows you to only retrieve the headers rather than the entire message from the e-mail server to your iPhone. So if you have a ton of new messages, retrieving only the headers allows you to sort through them very quickly. It synchronizes with two or more applications or devices. If you delete one email from an device, such as iPhone, iPad, Blackberry or desktop, it delete the email from the mail server and other email clients and devices as well.

What’s more once a message is marked as read on one client, that message gets marked as read with all other clients. This eliminates the need to “clean up” several inboxes every time new messages come in.

#4. Stop iPhone Downloading Old Emails from Gmail account

If you have a Gmail account and do not want to download old Emails from Gmail server to your iPhone, you can follow below two steps:
1. Log on Gmail and enable POP for mail that arrives from now on
Log on your Gmail from the web mail interface on a computer, go to its Settings page, you will find a tab named “Forwarding and POP/IMAP”. Click to open this tab, under the POP Download, section you should find options as below:

Status: POP is enabled for all mail that has arrived since ….
Enable POP for all mail (even mail that’s already been downloaded)
Enable POP for mail that arrives from now on
Disable POP

You can click to enable the POP for mail that arrives from now on, so when you add Gmail to iPhone as POP other than IMAP, your iPhone should not download existing emails from your Google account.

However by setting up email as POP, you may actually download more content onto your cellphone in the long run, as it will download a whole copy of your emails from web mail server. Unlike the IMAP protocol, each time you open an email, it will contact the email server to download the whole message, it save only a small part of the email on your local device.

POP mails on mobile will not be in sync with your email account on the mail server. You can delete any read emails on your iPhone while leave the copy on mail server intact.

2. set up Gmail as POP mail on iPhone.

More iPhone email tips:

1. This guide applies to different email service providers, such as gmail, yahoo mail, hotmail, AOL mail, etc.

2. If you have already read the emails on your desktop or another device, your iPhone may still download them as new unread emails. You can mark all emails as read on iPhone quickly.

How can I quickly mark all emails as read on iPhone?
Stop iPhone Downloading All Old Emails
2 votes, 3.00 avg. rating (70% score)

8 thoughts on “Stop iPhone Downloading All Old Emails

  1. Marcial Melendez

    How can I stop from having my old email popping up even though I deleted them

    • Matt

      Hi Marcial Melendez,
      Which email service are you using? Did you delete the old emails from your web mail interface on a web browser or within the Mail app on iPhone? Normally when you set up the email through IMAP, you should keep emails in sync with different devices, when you delete an email from computer or iPhone, it should disappear from all other devices as well.

  2. Hannah

    Thanks for this article.
    I have a 4s.I also have 3 email accounts on my phone, all gmail. I have followed your directions but when I tap on “Mail, Contacts, Calendars” it does not give me option to select how many recent messages to retrieve. Are you able to help?? What’s the story?? Thanks!!!!

    • Matt

      Thanks for your comment.
      Apple removed this feature since iOS 7.

    • Matt

      For Gmail specifically, there is an option to download only new emails. Log on your Gmail account from any web browser on computer, then go to its Settings page, you will find a tab named “Forwarding and POP/IMAP”. Click to open this tab, under the POP Download, section you should find options as below:
      1. Status: POP is enabled for all mail that has arrived since ….
      Enable POP for all mail (even mail that’s already been downloaded)
      Enable POP for mail that arrives from now on
      Disable POP
      You can click to enable the POP for mail that arrives from now on, so when you add Gmail to iPhone as POP other than IMAP, your iPhone should not download existing emails from your Google account.

      However by setting up email as POP, you will actually download more content onto your cellphone in the long run unless you will manually delete those read emails from time to time, as it will download a whole copy of your emails from web mail server. Unlike the IMAP protocol, each time you open an email, it will contact the email server to download the whole message, it save only a small part of the email on your local device.

  3. Hannah

    Thank you, Matt! This worked like a charm.
    I thought I had to do this from my cell phone.
    Thanks for clarifying!
    Be well…!

    Hannah

    • Matt

      You are welcome.
      It is great to know the solution works for you.
      Cheers!

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