When a computer user archives a Gmail message, it is moved from the inbox to a folder called All Mail. It can be retrieved either by searching Gmail or by browsing the All Mail folder. Specific instructions on how to archive and retrieve messages are available through Google Help.
Archiving a Gmail message is quite different from deleting a message. By archiving messages, users can clear out clutter from their inboxes without losing their messages forever. All Mail is simply a storage space for messages a user wants to keep because they contain phone numbers, email addresses or other information that might come in handy in the future.
When a user deletes a message, on the other hand, it is sent to a Trash folder. Google empties Trash folders every 30 days. A user can also opt to eliminate all messages from his Trash folder immediately through an option to Empty Trash Now.
A message can be archived either right away or at any later time. Users can archive messages either one at a time, all at the same time or in a group of selected messages. A user might decide to archive all messages older than 60 days, or all messages from a specific person who no longer works for his company, for example. The simplest way to find messages that meet such criteria is to search the mailbox.
For users who are concerned that they might mistakenly archive or delete any messages, Google provides a feature that can be turned on to prevent such mishaps. It is a popup dialog box which appears whenever a user seems to be on the verge of archiving or deleting a message. The dialog box asks for confirmation that the user really wants to archive or delete the message.