doveadm-expunge - Expunge messages matching given search query



doveadm−expunge − Expunge messages matching given search query


doveadm [−Dv] expunge [−S socket_path] [−d] search_query
[−Dv] expunge [−S socket_path] [−d] −A search_query
[−Dv] expunge [−S socket_path] [−d] −F file search_query
[−Dv] expunge [−S socket_path] [−d] −u user search_query


This command can be used to expunge mails matching the given search query. It is typically used to expunge old mails from users' Trash and/or Spam mailboxes. To test which messages a given search query would match, you can use doveadm fetch or doveadm search commands.

In the first form, doveadm(1) will execute the expunge action with the environment of the logged in system user.

In the second form, the command will be performed for all users.

In the third form, doveadm(1) will expunge messages of the users listed in the given file.

In the fourth form, only matching mails of the given user(s) will be expunged.


Global doveadm(1) options:


Enables verbosity and debug messages.

−o setting=value

Overrides the configuration setting from /etc/dovecot/dovecot.conf and from the userdb with the given value. In order to override multiple settings, the −o option may be specified multiple times.


Enables verbosity, including progress counter.

Command specific options:


If the −A option is present, the command will be performed for all users. Using this option in combination with system users from userdb { driver = passwd } is not recommended, because it contains also users with a lower UID than the one configured with the first_valid_uid setting.

When the SQL userdb module is used make sure that the iterate_query setting in /etc/dovecot/dovecot−sql.conf.ext matches your database layout. When using the LDAP userdb module, make sure that the iterate_attrs and iterate_filter settings in /etc/dovecot/dovecot-ldap.conf.ext match your LDAP schema. Otherwise doveadm(1) will be unable to iterate over all users.

−F file

Execute the command for all the users in the file. This is similar to the −A option, but instead of getting the list of users from the userdb, they are read from the given file. The file contains one username per line.


Delete the mailbox if it is empty after expunging.

−S socket_path

The option's argument is either an absolute path to a local UNIX domain socket, or a hostname and port (hostname:port), in order to connect a remote host via a TCP socket.

This allows an administrator to execute doveadm(1) mail commands through the given socket.

−u user/mask

Run the command only for the given user. It's also possible to use '*' and '?' wildcards (e.g. −u *
When neither the −A option, nor the −F file option, nor the −u user was specified, the command will be executed with the environment of the currently logged in user.



Expunge messages matching this search query. See doveadm−search−query(7) for details.


This example expunges messages from Spam mailbox that were saved/copied there more than two weeks ago:

doveadm expunge −u [email protected] mailbox Spam savedbefore 2w


Report bugs, including doveconf −n output, to the Dovecot Mailing List <[email protected]>. Information about reporting bugs is available at:


doveadm(1), doveadm−fetch(1), doveadm−purge(1), doveadm−search(1), doveadm−search−query(7)

Updated 2024-01-29 - |