Microsoft Outlook is a very popular email client that’s used by millions around the world. As reliable as it is, emails can become lost as a result of accidental deletion. What happens when an important email goes missing from your inbox?
Thankfully, there are a few options available to you for recovering lost emails. In this article, we’ll guide you through what methods you can use for Outlook email recovery. We’ll also show you some ways you can protect your emails from accidental deletion going forward.
How to Undo Delete In Outlook
Pressing CTRL + Z on your keyboard will undo the last action you made. Alternatively, you can click the undo button in the top left of the window. For instance, when you delete an email, it’s automatically sent to your Deleted Items folder. When you press CTRL + Z on your keyboard, that email will be restored to its original location. This function can be used to reverse most actions, like moving an email to another folder or correcting a mistake in an email. It’s one of the easiest ways to recover deleted items in Outlook.
Bear in mind that this will only undo your most recent action. For example, if you were to delete two emails one after the other, pressing CTRL + Z will only restore the most recently deleted email. The first email will still reside in the Deleted Items folder.
How to Restore Deleted Emails in Outlook.com
Outlook.com is the service that most non-commercial users are familiar with. It’s a free-to-use online email service, similar to Gmail. When you delete an email from your Outlook.com inbox, it will be moved to the Deleted Items folder. After 30 days, it will automatically be deleted. Similarly, emails in your Junk folder will reside there for 10 days before being deleted.
Follow these steps to restore deleted Outlook emails in Outlook.com:
How to Recover Deleted Emails in Outlook for Desktop
Microsoft has given you a range of options to choose from when recovering deleted emails in Outlook. If you can’t use CTRL + Z to undo the deletion, try some of these methods to restore deleted emails Outlook.
Deleted Items or Trash Folder
When an email is deleted in Outlook, it’s first sent to the Deleted Items or Trash folder (depending on your Outlook version). It will remain here until the folder is emptied manually or automatically based on your inbox settings.
Follow these steps to recover deleted emails in Outlook 2010, Outlook 2013, Outlook 2016, and Outlook for Microsoft 365.
Recoverable Items Folder
The Recoverable Items folder is a hidden folder that contains emails that have been deleted from the Deleted Items folder, as well as items that were permanently deleted using Shift + Delete. It gives you another chance at recovering your emails if you cleared your Deleted Items folder. This works on Outlook 2007 and above.
If the emails you were looking for aren’t appearing in the Recoverable Items list, you can contact your company’s administrator who may be able to recover them through the eDiscovery Center.
The Office 365 version of Outlook includes the AutoArchive feature. AutoArchive, when enabled, periodically archives the contents of your inbox or folders. It can be configured to send old emails to your default Archive folder, or it can move them to a PST file to clear up some space in your inbox. We’ll show you how to restore emails from a PST file later in the article.
The Archive folder is available on Outlook 2007 and above. Use these steps to retrieve old emails in Outlook from the default Archive folder:
This method only works for users on an Office 365 Enterprise subscription. eDiscovery is a Microsoft tool that’s used to find data for legal cases that will be used as evidence. It also doubles as a recovery solution, as it knows how to recover permanently deleted emails in Outlook. Bear in mind that this can only be performed by IT administrators who belong to the eDiscovery Manager role group in the Microsoft 365 compliance center.
How to Recover a Deleted Outlook Backup
Outlook allows you to export your emails to an Outlook data file (PST). This allows you to free up space in your inbox without permanently deleting the emails you want to keep a record of. However, in a data loss situation like hardware failure or a virus attack, your PST file may have been lost or deleted.
In such cases, you can use a data recovery tool called Disk Drill to recover the file. Disk Drill is our first choice because of its high recovery rate and easy usability. It’s also favored by many as a data recovery tool for Windows 11, as it can recover more than just emails.
Once the PST file is recovered, you can use it to restore the emails inside to your inbox. In the next section, we go over how you can restore Outlook emails from your PST backup.
How to Restore Outlook Emails from a Backup
Perhaps you’re moving your emails from one account to another. Or, perhaps you’ve simply deleted the wrong email and need to get it back. Once you have a backup, you can restore emails in Outlook with ease. Below, we’ll show you how to restore an entire backup, as well as restoring select files from the backup.
Restoring the Entire Backup
Follow these steps to retrieve deleted emails from an Outlook backup.
Restoring Specific Emails from the Backup
Restoring the entire backup can be bothersome if you only need to recover a few emails. Follow these steps to restore only marked emails:
How to Protect Outlook Emails from Deletion
Without a doubt, the best way to protect your Outlook emails is by backing them up. Having a copy you can restore makes recovery easy and guaranteed. Let’s look at a few effective methods for backing up your emails.
Auto-forwarding involves setting up a secondary email address that you have all incoming mail forwarded to. It’s available in all versions of Outlook. When the email comes into your main inbox, a copy is immediately sent to another email address as a backup. If the email is deleted, you can simply restore a backup copy from the second email address.
To set up auto-forwarding of all emails to your other email address, follow these steps.
If your company doesn’t allow auto-forwarding, you can try applying a condition on step five. Select the through the specified account condition and select your account in the box at the bottom of the window. However, emails will only be forwarded once they’re received by the desktop client, meaning your computer must be on and Outlook must be open in order for forwarding to work.
AutoArchive to PST
Outlook uses the PST file extension for backups. AutoArchive is a feature that can run periodically and move older emails to a PST backup, freeing up space in your inbox without permanently deleting its contents. It can be applied to your entire inbox or specific folders if you only want to back up some items.
Follow these steps to set up AutoArchive in Outlook 365:
Manually performing an export of your inbox will copy its contents to a file rather than move them like AutoArchive would. This allows you to keep the original in your inbox while also retaining a copy in a PST file.
The below instructions will guide you through exporting to a PST file:
Auto-deletion, when enabled, will automatically delete items from your Deleted Items folder upon exiting Outlook. This can be troublesome if you need to recover something from the Deleted Items folder after you’ve already closed the program.
To avoid this, you can disable auto-deletion entirely. Follow these steps:
Yes, deleted Outlook emails can be recovered in a number of ways. If you just deleted the email, try pushing CTRL + Z on your keyboard to try and undo the deletion. If that doesn’t work, your next step is to check your Deleted Items or Trash folder.
- Open Outlook on your computer.
- Click the Deleted Items folder in the left panel.
- Select what emails you want to restore. To select multiple, hold CTRL and click each email. Right-click, hover over Move, and select where you want to restore the emails.
Outlook includes a feature where you can specifically search for emails older than a certain time frame using a Search Folder. Follow these steps to use a Search Folder in Outlook 2016 to find old emails.
- Click Folder, then New Search Folder.
- Select Old mail.
- Click Choose to specify the age of the items you’re searching for. In the Search mail in dropdown, specify whether you want to search your main inbox or a PST file.
- Click OK.
If you cannot find an email using the search function built-in to Outlook, you can use a Search Folder to display all emails older than a certain point.
- Click Folder, then New Search Folder.
- Select Old mail. Click Choose to define the age of the items to pull. In the Search mail in dropdown, choose where you want to search.
- Click OK.
When you delete a folder from your Outlook inbox, it will appear in the Deleted Items folder. Here is how you can retrieve the folder.
- Click the dropdown option on the Deleted Items folder in the left panel.
- Right-click the deleted folder and click Move Folder. Move the folder out of Deleted Items to restore it.
Outlook automatically moves emails that it believes are spam to the Junk Email folder. However, some legitimate emails may end up here from time to time. Restoring emails from the Junk Email folder is super easy. Follow these steps.
- Click the Junk Email folder in the left panel.
- Select the emails you want to restore. Hold CTRL and click each email to select multiple.
- Right-click a marked email and click Move. Select which folder you want to move them to.