How to Recover Deleted Emails on Mac: an Ultimate Guide

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recover deleted emails on macDid you delete emails on your Mac by mistake? Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that they’re gone forever. Whether the emails disappeared by themselves because of hardware damage or you simply clicked the wrong button, the good news is that you should be able to easily recover deleted emails on Mac.

Check out these effective email recovery methods to restore your lost data.

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What Are the Most Popular Email Services on Macs?

First of all, you should know the difference between an email service provider and an email client. So an email service provider (also known as webmail) is a platform accessed through a browser that allows you to send, receive, and view emails.

Here’s a list of the most popular email service providers:

  • Gmail
  • Outlook
  • Yahoo Mail
  • ProtonMail
  • iCloud Mail

An email client is an application that you download to your device to open, send, and receive emails. The most popular email client for Mac is, of course, the built-in app called Mail. Most Mac users prefer to use this application since it’s easy to use and supports various email service providers (iCloud, Gmail, Yahoo, etc.).

Aside from macOS Mail, here are some other email clients that many prefer to use on Macs:

  • Spark
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Spike
  • Mail for Gmail
  • AirMail

How Are Emails Stored on a Mac?

If you use an email client such as Mail to access your emails, then you should be able to manually find all of the email-related data directly in your Mac’s folders. The copies of your emails are usually hidden somewhere in a separate folder in Library.

Here’s how to find where your emails are stored on a Mac:

  1. Launch Finder.
  2. From the menu bar, click Go > Go to Folder.
  3. In the search field, type in ~/Library/Mail/ and hit to find emails on Mac

This way, you’ll be redirected to a file archive with all your email messages. To open your emails, click the folder named Vx (instead of x, there will be a corresponding version number).v8 folder with email data on Mac

Once you open this folder, you’ll see that all your emails are grouped into separate subfolders. The folders named with a random line of numbers contain your email data. Click any such folder and you’ll see that the emails inside are also grouped into separate folders according to their type (drafts, sent messages, etc.).

You can open the files directly through Finder, but keep in mind that it will be a bit complicated to read your emails in such a way since they will contain both the email content and full source code in text. So if you want to only read the emails, it is best to use an email client to access your emails.

How to Recover Deleted Emails on a Mac

Luckily, the process of recovering deleted emails from a Mac doesn’t require advanced tech knowledge and is pretty quick and straightforward. Here are the four most effective methods for retrieving permanently deleted emails from a Mac.

Method 1: Restore Recently Deleted Emails From Mail Trash

Whether you’re using webmail or an email client on your Mac, the first place where you should look for a deleted email is in the trash section. So all you need to do for this method is to locate the trash folder and restore the mistakenly deleted email.

Also, depending on the email client that you’re using, there may be a time limit on how long it stores deleted emails in the trash (for example, Gmail stores deleted messages in the Trash folder for 30 days, after that, they get automatically removed). Therefore, it is best not to waste any time and start the email recovery process as soon as you realize that you’ve noticed that you’re missing an email.

Here’s how to check deleted emails and recover them from the Trash folder using Mail on your Mac:

  1. Launch Mail (either go to Launchpad > Mail or click the app’s icon on the dock).
  2. From the sidebar, click Trash.
  3. Now you can view deleted emails and find the ones that you wish to recover. Right-click the email and choose Move to and select the location for the recovered to recover email from trash on Mac mail

Method 2: Use Data Recovery Software

Time is of the essence when it comes to recovering deleted emails on your Mac. The sooner you start the recovery process, the more chances you’ll have in successfully retrieving the lost email messages.

Using a data recovery tool would be the wisest option for such a situation. Our data recovery software choice is Disk Drill since it’s completely hassle-free and can recover permanently deleted emails on a Mac in just a few minutes.

Here’s how to recover lost emails on a Mac using Disk Drill:

  1. Download Disk Drill and follow the onscreen instructions to install the app.
  2. From the list of available devices, choose the drive where the emails you’re trying to recover used to be stored (it’s usually your Mac’s main hard drive).
  3. Click the Search for lost data button.
    scan Mac with disk drill for data recovery
  4. Click Review found items if you don’t want to wait till the scan is finished and start searching for the needed emails right away.preview found files with disk drill scan Mac
  5. In the search field located at the top-right corner, type in emlx (the app will show you all recoverable emails).
  6. Choose the emails that you wish to recover and click the Recover to recover emails with disk drill on Mac
  7. Select a folder for the recovered emails and click OK.

If after recovering the deleted emails back to your Mac you want to access them directly in your Apple Mail client, you’ll need to take a few additional steps. Here’s what you should do:

  1. Launch Mail (go to Launchpad > Mail or click the app’s icon on the dock).
  2. Head to File > Import Mailboxes.import-found-emails-to-mac-mail
  3. Choose Apple Mail as the data type.
  4. Go to the folder containing the recovered emails and click Choose.
  5. Click Continue to import the emails back into your email client.
  6. When finished, click Done.

That’s it! Now you can access the recovered email directly through the Apple Mail client on your Mac.

Method 3: Recover Deleted Emails via iCloud

If you mistakenly deleted an important email from the iCloud website, there is a chance to recover them.

However, you will need to hurry since the deleted email is stored in the Trash folder for only 30 days. After that, they will get permanently deleted and it’ll be almost impossible to recover them (if you have a backup containing those emails, then there is a chance for a successful recovery).

Here’s how to recover deleted emails from iCloud Mail:

  1. Head to and log into your account.
  2. Click iCloud mail on Mac
  3. From the left sidebar menu, open the Trash tab.
  4. Click the email you want to restore and click the arrow at the top right corner of the to recover deleted iCloud email on Mac
  5. Click Move Message and select the mailbox you want to use to store the recovered email. Click Move to confirm.

Method 4: Use Your Time Machine Backup

If you’ve been regularly backing up your Mac with Time Machine, then you should be able to successfully recover any data from your recent backup, including a deleted email. However, this method will work only if you’ve made a Time Machine backup before deleting your emails.

If you want to recover deleted emails on Mac Mail or recover a deleted Mailbox from your Mac, then this data recovery method should help. Follow these steps to restore an email from Time Machine backup on your Mac:

  1. Launch Mail (either go to Launchpad > Mail or click the app’s icon on the dock).
  2. From the menu on the top of your Mac’s screen, click the Time Machine icon and select Enter Time to launch Time Machine from top menu on Mac
  3. Use the timeline on the left of the screen and the arrows to navigate through your backup versions and find the missing emails.
  4. Select the data that you wish to recover and click Restore.


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Romana Levko is a professional content writer with a strong interest in tech-related topics. Her main focus is on data recovery, Apple products, and cybersecurity. She spends her free time tinkering with her Mac and burning through her favorite music albums.
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12 years experience in software development, database administration and hardware repair.