How to Fix the Gmail Bug That Won’t Let You Empty Trash and Spam

Photo: David Murphy

Even though my inbox is unwieldy, I try my best to keep it as clean and as organized as I can. That includes taking some time to ditch old emails with gigantic attachments, and then clearing out my trash to see just how much space I saved.

Unfortunately, some kind of bug with Gmail’s Android app is now making it difficult to clear your Spam and Trash. If you’re affected—and not all devices are, as I haven’t encountered any issues on my Pixel 4 when using Gmail—you’ll notice that the familiar “Empty trash now” and “Empty spam now” no longer appear when you visit those folders on your device.

Screenshot: David Murphy

If this is the case, the workaround—until Google comes up with a fix—is pretty simple. You have a few fixes, in fact. First, you can abandon the Gmail app entirely and use the web-based interface to delete all of your spam and trash. This adds a little extra time but, honestly, how many people are clearing these folders on a regular or daily basis? I’m going to guess: very few of you.

Second, you can roll back to an earlier version of the Gmail app. Uninstall it and surf on over to APK Mirror. As Android Police reports, last month’s version of Gmail still seems to have these “emptying” options intact, so sideload “Gmail 2019.12.30.289507923.release” onto your Android and don’t have it auto-update from the Google Play Store until you hear about a fix. (To do this, find the app on the Google Play Store, tap the triple-dot icon in the upper-right corner, and deselect “Enable Auto Update.”)

Screenshot: David Murphy

The easiest solution to this issue is a quirky one that you’ll have to repeat each time you want to restore the “Empty” option in your Trash or Spam. Turn your device to landscape mode, and then turn it back to portrait mode, which should allow the “Empty” option to reappear. You can also open a spam or trash email, then tap on the back button to go back to your primary list; when you do, the “Empty” option should be there.

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