How to Recover Deleted Emails in Outlook
Did you accidentally delete an important email from your Outlook account? Maybe you were clearing out your inbox of unwanted messages and silly spam, but accidentally removed something you wanted to keep. Or perhaps you hit the “Delete” button while trying to click somewhere else.
Either way, it can be scary to see an email suddenly disappear, especially if it was something significant, like a critical work document. But don’t panic! Microsoft has a few safety nets to help you recover deleted messages. This article will show you how to bring them back.
The guide will be split into two main parts. In this section, you can see how to retrieve emails that you’ve recently deleted, undoing the damage right away. Then, further down the page, you can find a tutorial on restoring emails you deleted a while ago.
Both processes are simple and only take a couple of minutes at most. Here is how you can find freshly-removed messages:
- Find the “Deleted Items” or “Trash” folder in the list on the side of the screen and click to open it. (If you’re on the mobile app, tap your profile picture to view the folder list).
- Click or tap on that folder to open it up, and you should see a list of all your most-recently deleted items.
- Scroll through the deleted emails and find the one you want to retrieve.
From here, you have a couple of options to restore the message:
- The simplest choice is to right-click it and then hit the “Restore” button in the popup – this will send the email back to its original spot in your inbox.
- You can also right-click, then click “Move” and select a folder to transfer the message to.
- If you’re on mobile, long-press on the message, then tap the three dots, before pressing the “Restore” button.
So, how about if you look in the “Deleted Items” folder and your email isn’t there? Once again, don’t despair! Outlook automatically removes items from this folder after 30 days to keep it from overflowing, but there’s still a way to recover them.
This method involves a secret, hidden folder. It stores older deleted items for an additional 30-day period, just in case you want them back.
Here’s all you need to know to recover emails deleted more than a month ago:
- First, it’s important to note that this method won’t work on the Outlook mobile app. So you’ll have to sign in on a PC to get started.
- Click on “Deleted Items” in the tabbed menu on the left.
- If you’re using the Outlook desktop app, you should see a button in the top menu labeled “Recover Deleted Items.” You can click on this to see all of the old messages that have been deleted but are still being kept on the server.
- Meanwhile, if you’re on Outlook.com, you should see a little message that reads “Recover items deleted from this folder.”
- You can select the items you want to recover from the list and hit the “Restore” button.
This will send the email(s) directly back to your inbox, or whichever folder you originally stored them in.
How to Stop Outlook Deleting My Emails
Usually, Outlook won’t delete anything from your regular inbox without your manual input. But it can delete items from the “Junk” folder automatically after 10 days, and it will also remove deleted items from the trash after 30 days.
In some cases, Outlook might also be configured to empty the “Deleted Items” folder every single time you log out of your account. You can change this in the “Message Handling” area of Outlook’s settings.
In other cases, Outlook may not have deleted your messages, but just moved them to a different folder. This may make you think that the messages have been erased, if you’re unable to find them. Some accounts have conversation settings configured so that messages from certain contacts are automatically moved to other folders.
There are also cases where Outlook may encounter bugs or issues with the PST file – this is the personal storage file that Outlook and other Microsoft programs use to store all your personal data, like emails. If the PST gets corrupt or grows too large, Outlook may automatically delete some things.
How to stop this:
- There are a few different ways to stop Outlook deleting your emails when you don’t want it to. First, you should verify your existing Outlook Rules. To do this, click the “File” tab, followed by the “Manage Rules & Alerts” button. This will show you all the rules you’ve got set up on your account, if any, and you can adjust them accordingly to stop Outlook deleting certain emails without asking you first.
- Another possibility is that Outlook is deleting your emails when you close the Outlook app. This is a setting that you can toggle on or off, and you might have accidentally put it on. To fix it, open Outlook, click on “File” and then “Advanced.” Look for “Empty Deleted Items folder when exiting Outlook” and uncheck it.
- Finally, if your PST file has been damaged, you’ll need to fix it. This is a pretty advanced technique, and beginners may want to seek a computer repair expert for help. If you prefer to go it alone, find and run the ScanPST.exe program. You can search for it via your Windows search bar. Find the corrupt PST file and select it in the Inbox Repair Tool window, then press Start to begin a scan of the file. The program will scan and then prompt you to fix the file if it detects some issues.
Can you recover permanently deleted emails in Outlook after 30 days?
Unfortunately, if you don’t act fast enough, you won’t be able to recover your lost items. After the initial 30 days, the email is moved from the “Deleted Items” folder to the hidden “Recovery Folder” for another month. If you don’t recover it during that time, it will be removed entirely.
Where do recovered emails go in Outlook?
Usually, when you restore or recover a message from the “Deleted Items” folder, it’ll go straight back to the original folder it was stored in, which is usually your main inbox. However, if you use subfolders on Outlook, your message will return to one of those. You can usually find the email via the recipient or a keyword in the title.
What if I can’t find my deleted email in the recovery folder?
Sadly, if this happens, it’s likely that your email has gone to the digital grave, never to be seen again. You might be able to contact the original sender and get them to resend the message to you, giving you a fresh copy. Also, there are some recovery programs that claim to be able to restore lost emails, even after 30 days, but they won’t always work.
Why would someone want to recover a deleted email?
Usually, it’s because they deleted the email by accident. This happens more often than you might imagine, especially when people are in a hurry and accidentally click the “Delete” button. Other times, people may delete something without realizing that they still need it later.
What happens when I click “Delete” on an email in Outlook?
When you click the “Delete” button, your email won’t be removed entirely from your account. Instead, Outlook moves it to a different folder, called “Deleted Items,” where it sits for a while before being removed for good.
Why doesn’t Outlook delete things for good when I click “Delete”?
The reason why Outlook has a “Deleted Items” folder and doesn’t automatically erase messages entirely is to protect users. There are many cases of “accidental deletions” where you might click on the delete button while trying to press something else, for example. Or, you may delete a message one day and then realize you need to read it again a few days later. The “Deleted Items” folder exists to give you a quick and easy way to recover those messages, should you need to.
How do I delete an email permanently from Outlook?
If you want to delete something entirely, you’ll need to first delete the message from your inbox. Then, enter the “Deleted Items” menu and delete it again from there. Then, as a final step, go into the hidden “Recovery Folder” by clicking “Recover items deleted from this folder” and then once again highlighting the message and clicking the “Delete” button or trash can symbol.
Never Lose Emails Again
Thanks to Outlook’s smart recovery features, there’s no need to panic when messages go missing. The next time you mistakenly delete something or want to recover an old email, you can count on these two proven methods to bring it back.
Have you accidentally deleted an important email in the past? Share your email recovery and organization tips in the comments below.