Changing the iPhone IMAP “Sent” folder name

One of the downsides to using multiple devices or clients against a single IMAP account is that every device/client does things a little differently. Some use the IMAP deleted flag, some use a “Trash” folder, others use “Deleted Items”.  Sent it almost as bad, most clients use “Sent”, but many use “Sent Items” (Outlook’s standard).

Luckily many IMAP clients allow you to reconfigure the special Sent, Drafts and Trash folders.  With the iPhone, you can change these folders, but the option is well hidden, and isn’t always accessible.

First, create an IMAP account on your iPhone, then follow these instructions:

  1. Start at the home screen
  2. Go to Settings
  3. Choose “Mail, Contacts, Calendar”
  4. Select an IMAP account
  5. Scroll to the very bottom of the list, choose “Advanced”
  6. Change each of the “Mailbox Behaviours” items as needed.

If no folders show up in the list, return to the home screen, go to the Mail app, open the account, this should present you with a folder list.  Now return to step #1 and try again.

Also be aware that even once you change a mailbox, it will still show up with the default name in the iPhone interface, however, the iPhone will use the selected folder when interacting with the server.

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Changing the iPhone IMAP “Sent” folder name by Dave Warren ( is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

8 Replies to “Changing the iPhone IMAP “Sent” folder name”

  1. Thanks for laying it out in such a straight forward manner, got it working right away with your guide.

  2. This would be great in a perfect world, but it does not work. There is a Sent Items folder on my IMAP server and a Sent Messages folder that keeps getting re-created. My Mac uses Sent Items by default and event if I change my iPhone or iPad to use this folder, it will always re-create a Sent Messages folder. If I try and tell my Mac to use the Sent Messages folder, it will still use the Sent Items folder -even after telling it to “use this mailbox as”.

  3. Hey Jeff,

    To be honest, I don’t really know what to suggest. I’ve had an iPod Touch since OS 1 era (before the App Store) and currently have an iPhone 4 on iOS 4.1, along with an iPad.

    In all cases the “Sent Messages” gets created the first time you send mail from the device, but once you point your iOS device at your “Sent Items” or similar, it seems to work.

    I absolutely do not have a “Sent Messages” folder or similar, I have exactly one, “Sent Items” and have Outlook (With Outlook Connector), Windows Live Mail, ThunderBird, my iPhone, iPad, Windows Mobile (FlexMail), BlackBerry and WorldClient all delivering mail to that folder without difficulty beyond the initial setup.

  4. I agree with Jeff. There is no way I can find to stop my iPad, iPhone, and OS X laptop to use the same “Sent” folder consistently. I always end up with sent items, sent messages, and sent folders. Lame.

  5. I’ve been using an iPhone since OS 2, and I’ve been able to get this working.

    The steps seem to be: Configure the account, start the Mail app (to load the folder list), switch back to the Settings app, change the Sent and Deleted folders, then switch back to the Mail app and review the the folder list to see if it changed the icons.

    Once in a while it still creates the “bad” folders, but if you delete them via WorldClient and restart the Mail app (double click the Home button, press and hold the Messages icon, then click the red “-“) then it seems to work.

    This has been tested across multiple iOS devices, including iPhones and iPads.

    It’s a pain in the arse, but it does work once you set it up.

  6. Thanks for the suggestion to open the folders from mail to get the folders to display in the “sent” and “deleted” options. that worked!

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