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How to recover deleted emails in Outlook

You can retrieve deleted emails from Outlook in a few simple steps if you've ever trashed your vital messages by mistake

If you have ever accidentally deleted a message or emptied the deleted items folder by mistake, it can be a disconcerting experience. However, all is not lost and with a bit of effort, you can retrieve your deleted emails from Outlook you may have once thought gone for good.

One of many emails services available, Outlook is one of the most widely-used by professionals and businesses, mostly because it forms part of the Microsoft 365 ecosystem, which includes any number of useful productivity apps, including the capability of being integrated with Microsoft Teams

Across all popular iterations of Microsoft's Outlook email client, there's a way to recover your deleted emails, but these methods do vary between the different platforms. Thankfully, the process isn't so complicated, and you'll be reunited with your missing messages in no time by following a few simple steps.

How to recover deleted emails in Outlook 2013 or Outlook 2016

Recovering deleted emails in Outlook 2013 or Outlook 2016 screenshot

For users of Outlook 2013 or Outlook 2016, the first port of call would be to search for your deleted messages in your mailbox’s Deleted Items Folder. If you’ve accidentally deleted anything, or even if you’ve deliberately eliminated messages but subsequently changed your mind, you can find them there – it exists as a kind of backup plan.

If, however, the emails you’re looking for aren’t in the Deleted Items Folder, you should, instead, search through the Recoverable Items folder by using the Recover Deleted Items tool. Navigate to the Deleted Items folder, select Home, then click Recover Deleted Items From Server. Pick the option to Restore Selected Items and then press OK. The messages you’ve chosen should then migrate back into your Deleted Items folder.

Should the email you’re looking for be in either of these locations, then you can right-click and pick the option that’ll move the email back to your inbox, or you can even pick another destination if you’ve organised your messages into folders. Should you be hoping to recover an entire folder that you’ve previously deleted, this will appear as a sub-folder in the Deleted Items area. Right-click the icon and select its new destination if you want to recover it.

Unfortunately, some emails may have already been permanently deleted. If they don’t appear in either the Deleted Items folder or in the Recover Deleted Items From Server space, they are gone forever and cannot be restored.

How to recover deleted emails in Outlook 2010

Recovering deleted emails in Outlook 2010 screenshot

If you accidentally delete a message in Outlook 2010, this can be quickly recovered. First of all, look in the Deleted Items folder in your mailbox. This is a good place to start and you can also find other items, such as a calendar appointment, contact, or task. You can also recover a deleted folder.

Go to your email folder list, and then click Deleted Items. Then locate the message you want to recover, right-click it, and then click Move > Other Folder. Then move the message to the inbox and click OK.

If you delete a folder, it appears as a subfolder in the Deleted Items folder. To recover this click Move Folder, and then select a folder to move it to. 

If you can't find the message in the Deleted Items folder, the next place to look is the Recoverable Items folder. This hidden folder is where items deleted from the Deleted Items folder goes.

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To recover items from the Recoverable Items folder, do the following. In Outlook, click the Folder tab, and then click Recover Deleted Items. Choose the item you want to recover and click Recover Selected Items. These items then move to the Deleted Items folder. You can then move them back to the folder in your inbox. 

You can recover multiple items by holding down the control key while clicking on the items. To recover all items, click Select All, and then click Recover Selected Items.

If Recover Deleted Items is greyed out or isn't there, this could be because you are not using an Exchange account or you are working offline.

How to recover deleted emails in Outlook Web App

Recovering deleted emails in Outlook Web App screenshot

Accidentally deleting emails from the Outlook Web App isn't the end and often these messages can be recovered. The first place to look is the Deleted Items folder. If it is not there then look in the Recoverable Items folder, which can be accessed by using the Recover Deleted Items tool.

To recover a message, sign into the Outlook Web App and look for the folder marked Deleted Items. When the message is found, simply right-click on it and then click Move>Inbox. To move to a different folder, right-click it, and then click Move > More. Choose a folder location and then click Move.

Deleted folders will appear in Deleted Items as a sub-folder. To recover it (along with all the messages it contains), right-click the deleted folder, click Move, and then choose a folder to move it to.

If the message is not in the Deleted Items folder then right-click Deleted Items, and then click Recover deleted items. 

The search function can be used to locate the message. When found, select it, and then click Recover. When recovered, these messages go back into the Inbox.

How to recover deleted emails in Outlook.com

Recovering deleted emails in Outlook.com screenshot

When using the web-based version of Outlook, if you need to recover an email that might have been accidentally deleted from your inbox, you can go to the left pane of the Outlook.com window, click the Deleted folder. At the bottom of the window, click recover deleted messages.

This will attempt to recover as many messages as possible and put them in your Deleted folder. If you don't see the deleted messages that you wanted, it means they are permanently lost.

When these recovered messages are back in the deleted folder, you should then move important ones back to the inbox or personal folders as the Deleted folder gets cleaned out from time to time.

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