Change the Mail Swipe Left Gesture in OS X to Archive or Delete
The Mac Mail app has added inbox swiping gestures to OS X that allow you to quickly delete or archive an email message with a simple left swipe. While this helps to sort through tons of emails rather quickly, it can also lead to some unintentional removal of emails that you may want to keep, as it’s pretty easy to accidentally swipe over an email message when navigating in the Mail app of OS X.
Fortunately, it’s easy to change the swipe left gesture in Mail app to either Trash or Archive emails.
How to Change the Swipe Left Gesture in Mail for Mac OS X to Archive or Trash
This pertains to Mail app in OS X 10.11 and later versions only:
- Open the Mail app and pull down the Mail menu, going to “Preferences”
- Go to the “Viewing” tab
- Look for “Swipe Left To:” and change “Trash” to “Archive” (or vice versa, depending on your desired action)
- Close out of Mail Preferences and return to the inbox, swipe left over an email message to see the newly changed swipe left action
Now the swipe left function will either Archive or Trash a message, depending on what you picked. In the screenshot example, the swipe left gesture now attempts to archive a message rather than delete it:
If you find yourself accidentally deleting email messages with the Swipe Left gesture in Mail for Mac, consider changing the setting to “Archive” rather than the default “Trash”.
A good number of Mail users have found the swipe left feature to be challenging in OS X, leading to unintended results. But for now the only two options available for the swipe gesture are Trash and Archive. Perhaps a future release of OS X Mail will allow users to turn off the left swipe actions complete, thereby preventing any accidental mail sorting or deletion.
This feature is borrowed from Mail in iOS which allows left swipes to delete and archive as well, but for many users (myself included) the gesture tends to work better on a touchscreen than it does with a trackpad or Magic Mouse, since it’s easier to accidentally activate on the Mac.
While these are the only options available in Mail app natively, the BetterTouchTool app can modify things further, even setting the swipe left feature to do nothing, thereby disabling the feature. Whether or not you want to use a third party utility to achieve that effect is really up to you, but BetterTouchTool has some other handy uses too, like changing the green maximize button behavior.