September 21, 2022

Tagging deleted messages in Notmuch

I use Notmuch in Emacs for managing my email. It’s fast, powerful, and (once used to it) easy to use.

There are a few oddities I’ve learned to work around. The first is with deleting messages. The manual for Notmuch states:

notmuch does not support, nor ever will, the deleting of messages

I’m ok with this, since Notmuch provides a way to essentially bury deleted messages using tags. I don’t necessarily need to actually delete the message file. Any message tagged with +deleted is hidden from searches unless explicitly included. Ignored tags are set in ~/.notmuch-config like so:


This works fine, but the problem is that my new messages are also automatically tagged with +unread and +inbox, so in order to properly flag a message as deleted, I want those two tags removed as well. There seems to be no built-in way to do this. I found this odd, since there is notmuch-archive-tags, which lets me configure which tags are added or removed when archiving a message. Here’s my config for that:

(setq notmuch-archive-tags '("-inbox" "-unread" "+archived"))

There is no such configuration for deletion, so I made my own. To do this, I borrowed some code from Spacemacs and integrated into my Doom Emacs config.

(setq notmuch-message-deleted-tags '("+deleted" "-inbox" "-unread"))

(defun jab/notmuch-search-message-delete (go-next)
  "Delete message and select GO-NEXT message."
  (notmuch-search-tag notmuch-message-deleted-tags)
  (if (eq 'up go-next)

(defun jab/notmuch-search-message-delete-down ()
  "Delete a message and select the next message."
  (jab/notmuch-search-message-delete 'down))

;; My own delete key
(map! :map notmuch-search-mode-map
        :n "D" #'jab/notmuch-search-message-delete-down)

Now, pressing D” in any notmuch search buffer deletes the selected message and moves to the next one. This all seems like it should be built in, but if it is I couldn’t find it. If anyone knows a better way to handle this, please let me know.

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