How to Archive Emails on Mac and Where is Apple Mail Archive?

By archiving emails after you read them, you can keep your Mac mailbox clean and tidy. Rather than deleting messages, archiving in Apple Mail gives you an opportunity to access your emails later if needed. We’ll show you how to archive emails on Mac as well as use Clean Email for powerful inbox management.

The Benefit of Archiving Emails in Apple Mail

Have you ever deleted an email after reading it only to discover that you needed it later? Instead of permanently removing messages, you can send them to a Mac Mail Archive folder. This moves the emails out of the way but allows you to easily access them or return them to your inbox.

Let’s take a look at the available email archiving solutions on Mac using both Apple Mail and Clean Email.

How to Archive Emails in Apple Mail on Mac

When you use Apple Mail on Mac, you can archive a message the same way regardless of the email service provider. And, you have a few different ways to store individual or multiple messages. So, you can use whichever is quickest or easiest for you.

  1. Select the email you want to store. To select multiple messages, hold Command ⌘ as you click each one, or to select an adjacent range of messages, choose the first email, hold Shift ⇧, and choose the last email.
  2. Do one of the following to archive the email(s):
    • Click the Archive button in the top toolbar.
    • Right-click and choose Archive.
    • Select MessageArchive in the menu bar.
    • Use the keyboard shortcut Control ⌃ + Command ⌘ + A.
How to archive emails in Mac Mail

You’ll see the message(s) vanish from your inbox.

📌 Tip: If you use your email service provider’s web or desktop app on Mac, check out our detailed guides for learning how to archive in Outlook, Gmail, and Yahoo Mail.

Swipe to Archive Mail on Mac

Do you like to use swipe actions to manage your messages? Just like when you archive email on iPhone, you can set a swipe gesture to file away messages in Mail on Mac.

  1. Open the Mail app and select MailSettings from the menu bar.
  2. Go to the Viewing tab and choose Archive next to Move discarded messages into.
  3. To use the gesture, swipe an email from right to left and pick Archive.

💡 Note: that this feature is not available when using the Column Layout in Apple Mail.

Automatically Archive Emails on Mac

While the Outlook desktop application provides a handy tool for automatically archiving old messages, there isn’t currently an Apple Mail auto archive feature. However, you can set up a rule to automatically manage messages on Mac as they arrive.

  1. Open the Mail app and select MailSettings from the menu bar.
  2. Go to the Rules tab and choose Add Rule.
  3. Enter a Description (name) for the rule.
  4. For the condition:
    • Select the From drop-down box and pick Date received.
    • Select the is less than drop-down box and pick is greater than. Then, enter the number of days to the right.
  1. For the action, leave Move Message as-is and open the No mailbox selected drop-down box to pick All Archive or a specific archive folder if you prefer.
  2. Click OK to save the rule.
  3. Choose Apply to run the rule for your existing messages or Don’t Apply to ignore current messages.

You’re then returned to the Rules settings where you’ll see your rule with a checkmark indicating that it’s active.

📌 Tip: Check out below how to create rules with Auto Clean in Clean Email for a simpler way to automatically archive messages!

Where to Find Archived Emails on Mac

Wondering where to find the Mac Mail archive? After you use the above method to archive an email, the message is safely tucked away in the Archive folder for the corresponding email account, yet fully accessible in Apple Mail. For instance, if you archive a Gmail message, it lands in the Archive folder in the Gmail mailbox.

  1. To access your mailboxes in Apple Mail, make sure you have the left-hand sidebar open. If it’s hidden, simply select ViewShow Sidebar in the menu bar.
  2. Expand the mailbox for the email account in the sidebar and select the Archive folder.

You can then see all messages you’ve archived for that account.

📌 Tip: Are you using the Gmail website to archive messages? Learn where to find those archived emails in Gmail.

Unarchive an Email in Apple Mail

To recover an archived email, you can move it to your inbox for that account, or a particular folder if you prefer.

Select the email and do one of the following to unarchive the message:

  • Open the Move menu in the top toolbar and choose a location.
  • Right-click, go to Move to, and choose a location.
  • Select MessageMove to in the menu bar and choose a location.

How to Stop Emails Going to Archive on Mac

If you set up a rule to automatically archive Apple Mail on Mac as described earlier, you can simply disable the rule to prevent emails going to the archive. This allows you to re-enable the rule later if you like. Alternatively, you can delete the rule altogether to turn off archive in Mac Mail.

  1. Open the Mail app and select MailSettings from the menu bar.
  2. Go to the Rules tab and do one of the following:
    • To disable the rule, uncheck the box in the Active column.
    • To delete the rule, select Remove and then confirm in the pop-up window. Note that you cannot undo this action.

If you notice emails going to the Archive folder rather than the Trash, check the swipe gesture feature mentioned above. Go to MailSettingsViewing and see if Archive is chosen next to Move discarded messages into.

How Clean Email Can Help Manage Your Mailbox

Clean Email is available as a dedicated app for Mac as well as on the web and mobile devices. This allows you to manage your mailbox from any device using an IMAP-based service.

With features for archiving emails, setting up inbox rules, screening incoming messages, and more, you have a complete and secure inbox manager in Clean Email.

How to Archive Emails on Mac with Clean Email

You can archive messages in the Clean Email desktop app for Mac both automatically and manually. This is convenient for older messages that take up inbox space as well as one-off emails.

To archive emails automatically, you can quickly set up a rule using Auto Clean. As an example, here’s how to easily archive older messages.

  1. Select Auto Clean on the left and either Create Rule or the plus sign on the right.
  2. Automatic rules with feature Auto Clean in Clean EmailAutomatic rules with feature Auto Clean in Clean Email
  3. At the top of the pop-up window, pick your Inbox, a specific folder, or a Smart Folder to locate messages.
  4. Choose Old Mail and use the drop-down box to pick a timeframe. Unlike an Apple Mail archive rule, you can select from one day up to 10 years for those outdated emails.
  5. Below Apply Action, select Archive in the drop-down box.
  6. Add any other conditions you like, optionally turn on the toggle for Apply to existing messages, and click Create Rule.
Archive old emails with Clean Email automaticallyArchive old emails with Clean Email automatically


  • To archive an email in your inbox, select the arrow next to Trash on the right and pick the Archive option.
  • To see your archived messages, expand Mailbox in the left-hand menu and pick the Archive folder.
  • To unarchive an email, select the arrow next to Trash on the right, pick Move, and choose a location.

Advanced Features for Mailbox Management

Clean Email is more than an email archiver for Mac. You can take advantage of these additional features to keep your inbox tidy and clutter-free.

Smart Folders: Clean Email automatically filters emails into Smart Folders for simpler inbox management. You can see messages related to online shopping, travel, entertainment, food delivery, and more placed into Smart Folders for you.

Smart Folders feature in Clean EmailSmart Folders feature in Clean Email

Unsubscriber: The Unsubscriber tool helps you keep your mailbox clean by unsubscribing from multiple messages at once. Plus, those emails you unsubscribe from are sent to the Trash automatically.

Unsubscribe from emails with Clean EmailUnsubscribe from emails with Clean Email

Screener: When you receive emails from unknown senders, Clean Email places them in a separate spot for your review. You can then Allow, Block, or Unsubscribe before the messages reach your inbox.

Stop spam emails with Screener feature in Clean EmailStop spam emails with Screener feature in Clean Email

Control Center: View your Auto Clean, Screener, Unsubscriber, and Sender Settings statuses in one handy dashboard. The Control Center helps you stay on top of this advanced feature set.

All Clean Email features are available in the desktop, web, and mobile apps.


The next time you need to clean up your inbox, consider filing away older outdated emails so that you can focus better on the new important ones. Now that you know how to archive emails in Mac Mail, the process should be a breeze.

And remember, with robust features, broad availability, and a focus on privacy and security, Clean Email gives you everything you need to manage almost any email account.

Mac Mail Archiving - FAQs

How to archive Apple Mail emails in my mailbox?

To archive emails in Apple Mail, you can manually move them to the archive folder or set up custom rules to do so automatically. Additionally, using the Clean Email app, you can efficiently manage and automatically archive emails based on your preferences.

How do I archive old emails on Mac?

There are a number of quick and simple ways to archive email on Mac, whether you're using the built-in Apple Mail app, or Gmail or Outlook in your web browser. Also, the Clean Email app can automate the archiving process based on set criteria, making it easier to manage older emails.

Where is Apple Mail archive stored?

The Apple Mail archive is stored in its own archive folder, which you can find in the sidebar of the Apple Mail app on your Mac. This folder also appears in the sidebar inside Gmail and Outlook when you use them in your web browser.

Does Apple Mail automatically archive emails?

No, Apple Mail does not automatically archive emails. Users must manually move emails to the archive or set up a rule to store messages based on specific criteria.

How do I stop Mac Mail from archiving?

You can stop Mac Mail auto archive process by going into its Preferences menu and deleting the rule you created to handle automatic archiving.

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