Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

There are things to enable ahead of time if you would like to save your email history, but if they are not enabled then your emails are gone for good.

Is there a way to retrieve my email history after I've deleted them?

Chances are by the time you have to ask, probably not. There are several settings in various email programs that can help, but you do have to set them up before you process your email in order to get their benefit.

Let's review a couple of the common ones. Perhaps they're already set, and you can retrieve what you're looking for.

First, many programs have recycle bins. Much like Windows, if you delete an email, it gets placed in the Recycle Bin instead of "really" being deleted. The Recycle Bin gets emptied either when you explicitly do it, or if the option is set automatically when you exit your email program. Have a look in your Recycle Bin if you have one.

Some email programs can be configured to automatically save sent messages. Outlook, for example, has a separate "Sent Mail" folder that keeps a copy of every message you send - if you've turned it on. Many email programs have similar settings.

Email programs that support "rules" or actions that can be taken when email arrives can be configured to save a copy of incoming email as well.

Finally, another option particularly useful if you're traveling is the option to "leave messages on server". Normally when you download your email, it's removed from the server that was holding it. As it implies, you can instruct many email programs to leave the messages on the server, often specifying an optional length of time before they're automatically deleted. If the messages have been left on the server, you can typically use a different email program, or webmail access, to view the messages again.

The bad news is that most of these items are optional and most default to being turned off. So if you haven't turned them on, your delete may in fact have permanently deleted the message.

Article C2109 - July 10, 2004 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

July 29, 2004 4:26 PM

How do I retrieve my deleted email on the email server?

July 29, 2004 4:31 PM

IF (and only IF) you've set it to leave messages on the server, then the easiest way I know of is to create a new account in your email program using the exact same parameters as your primary account (include "leave on server"). When you download using this account, all the messages on the server will get downloaded again.

If you did NOT set to leave messages on server, then they're gone - there's nothing to retrieve.

Joyce Pyatt
October 12, 2004 6:09 PM

Hi Leo,

I have deleted my Microsoft Office by mistake. How can I retrieve these programs (Word, Access, Power Point, etc.)?

October 12, 2004 6:59 PM

You'll need to reinstall from the original office installation CDs.

June 30, 2005 1:57 AM

Is there a way of retrieving a message that i sent from a hotmail account but forgot to save it in the "sent messages" folder?(I use hotmail)
thank you

June 30, 2005 9:52 AM

No, not that I'm aware of. Other than asking the person you sent it to to send a copy back to you.

July 9, 2005 2:08 AM

I have an e-mail account that uses Outlook Express 6 with Windows XP. I use folders in OE to save my e-mails. All of the e-mails saved prior to July first are missing but only from one of many folders. There is no chance that I deleted them but they are missing from that one folder. I will take a guess that it had something to do with a compacting operation that froze while the computer was being shut down. Is there any chance of recovering those e-mails? Thanks.

July 9, 2005 8:23 AM

I would not expect so. Compacting will probably have overwritten any useful data, and crashing during compacting probably lost or corrupted something important. I'd look at reverting to backup copies of the files, if you have them.

July 10, 2005 11:10 PM

is there any possible way to got back the important emails that I've accidentally deleted... i really needed it.... pls.. thanks and god bless

July 11, 2005 8:13 PM

For your yahoo account? Nope.

Laura Smith
August 8, 2005 5:50 AM

If emails have been deleted, and even the recycling bin on the account has been emptied, is there a way to retrieve the lost emails from the hard drive of the computer that they were deleted on?

August 8, 2005 9:14 AM

In all likelyhood: no. There's a small possibility, but it's very complicated and in most cases would require the hands-on assistance of someone who really knew what they were doing. Most of the time it would not work.

December 3, 2005 1:37 PM

please its real urgent,reply me,my yahoo id was inactive n i activated it and after activating found that i've lost all my emails,including some important and necessary emails,please let me know something by which i can retrieve my all emails,its really urgent

December 15, 2005 8:28 PM

I'm not aware of any way. That's one of the many reasons I strongly recommend NOT relying on free email services.

December 28, 2005 11:11 PM

Please tell me how I can retrieve my old mail I deleted by mistake. One was my new Resume. I really thank-you!

December 30, 2005 8:34 PM

On free email services like Yahoo, I know of no way to do so.

anita galea
March 26, 2006 7:11 PM

Is there anyway i can retrieve email once deleted from hotmail
Thank you

March 26, 2006 7:18 PM

CHeck the Trash folder, and if it's not there, then no.

May 16, 2006 4:19 AM

Is there some program you can buy in which you can review previously sent and received emails AND IMs? I just read a book where the character was able to retrieve and save old IMs and Emails sent and received. I need to do that...

Is there a program one can purchase to make furture emails & IMs savable even if deleted?

nat (really need a reply A.S.A.P)
January 22, 2007 5:12 PM

Leo how do i get my e-mails back after my hotmail account deletes them after 30 days?
if i can't get them back can i change the dates that are set to delete the e-mails after a
peroid of time?

Leo Notenboom
January 22, 2007 5:17 PM

That's this article:

April 15, 2007 2:21 PM

Hi, I have a query regarding emails, sometimes when I send an email the person doesn't get it, even though it was definitley sent to the right address. What happens to the email that doesn't get there? does it end up in someone elses' inbox?

Leo A. Notenboom
April 23, 2007 9:12 PM

Hash: SHA1

You probably want this article:

Version: GnuPG v1.4.6 (MingW32)


June 4, 2007 10:41 AM

I have deleted a email now I have to have that email for a job fair. How can I retrieve it when it has already been deleted out of the trash bin?

Leo A. Notenboom
June 4, 2007 10:49 AM

Hash: SHA1

I note you're on Hotmail - that answer is here:



Version: GnuPG v1.4.6 (MingW32)


kennedy B. andrews
July 24, 2007 7:27 AM

I accidently deleted some e-mails that I seriously need quickly, I'm a Pastor of a Church and I need them could you please help me.

Leo A. Notenboom
July 24, 2007 3:04 PM

Hash: SHA1

You're *probably* out of luck, but without knowing what email program you use,
there's no way for me to say for sure.


Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)


Ram Mani
October 17, 2007 4:10 AM

I need desperately to retreive some important e mails from aug-sep 2004 from my hot mail account. Unfortunately my computer at home crashed earlier this year and all files have been lost. Is there any way the e mails could be retreived?

Leo A. Notenboom
October 18, 2007 12:58 PM

Hash: SHA1

Not that I'm aware of.


Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)


mrs a lowres
November 27, 2007 12:24 AM

i deleted my emails by accident on saturday so i contact hotmail (msn) that i accidently deleted them they contacted me back on sunday saying they went into my account and retreived my email and they should be on there within 72hours if they didnt come on within the 72 hours then they were permently deleted but then i checked my deleted folder again and they were back in my folder by sunday night

October 12, 2008 9:20 AM

I didn't use my email account from last 3 months, i lost all of my emails in that account. how do i retrieve all those ?

You don't. This happens when you don't use an account for a period of time.
- Leo

December 23, 2009 4:01 AM

I lost important mail from aol account i desperately need to retrieve them this mails are 4 months there a way i may retrieve them?

Not that I know of.

John Findley
March 27, 2010 3:17 AM

is there a way to retrieve proof of delivery of a hotmail email? the email in questio was sent 5 months ago.

Nope. Not any way that I know of.

April 10, 2010 2:30 AM

I set up my AOL account in Outlook Express then, like an idiot, deleted and purged my saved emails in OE, not realising they would also be deleted in my AOL account. They seems to have gone. Not in "recently deleted", and cannot seem to recover from OE .dbx files. AOL are worse than useless in helping. I presume theses are gone forever, or is there any way to retrieve?


May 9, 2010 5:36 PM

Is there a way i can retrieve my deleted emails from myspace ?

May 10, 2010 11:48 PM

I have a webmail account [edited] and have my own domain and email addresses set up. I have deleted an email 5 weeks ago. Is there any way to retrieve this email? Could their server still hold the email? Many thanks and regards, Kal

June 15, 2010 7:21 AM

An old employee deleted his inbox and sent mail. These conversations are important on our project. Is there a way to retrieve these. We have a separate server for email.

Sounds like a business with a separate mail server? If so, the most common thing to do is to recover from backups that have been made along the way (hopefully nightly). If no backups then it gets real dicey and depends on the mail software in question - you'd need to contact support for the specific vendor.

August 1, 2010 6:11 PM

can deleted emails from facebook be recovered its matter of ergency

No, not that I'm aware of.

Marcia Pratt
October 27, 2010 5:16 PM

My sent folder on my yahoo acct has never saved any of my emails I would like to know how I can get it to save my sent emails

joseph Opalka
May 31, 2011 6:43 AM

The week of May 23rd, I received an email from SimSlots,Inc IP into my email address above. Is there a way to receover it. I thought it was go to trash, it didn't. Can help me?

November 25, 2011 10:06 PM

Hello Leo,

Some of my recently received emails have been deleted, and I don't know who deleted them and why?. Is it possible to retrieve them or find out what happened?
The lost emails are from my customers, can I trust this way of communication to make my business grow?

You might want to look at this article: Why is my email being immediately deleted?. As to whether you can trust email to build a business, the answer is absolutely as long as you use a proper email provider, and take additional steps to backup your email yourself.

November 25, 2011 10:20 PM

What is the difference between WEB MAIL and OUT LOOK, and which one is the BEST?

Mark J
November 26, 2011 1:13 AM

The following article was written about Outlook Express, but it applies to Outlook and other email programs.
What's the difference between using Outlook Express versus my ISP's email?

Colleen Utter
December 29, 2011 6:08 PM

I accidentally deleted an Email message with an attachment. How do I retrieve that from Windows Hotmail?

Mark J
December 30, 2011 1:43 AM

If you simply deleted the message, you should be able to find it in Hotmail's deleted folder. It stays there for a few days before it is completely removes from Hotmail.

wilfred wemhoff
December 31, 2011 12:06 PM

i have deleted a person out of my contacts. i could not get e-mail to her. the e-mail address in my contacts was correct,but when i send a e-mail to her up on my screen her e-mail was miss spelled. i now have her out of my contacts but when i push forward button her and hit the p key her wrong e-mail address comes up

Your email program or your browser still has an auto-complete feature that's unrelated to your contacts. Exactly how to clear that depends on what email program, service or browser you're using.
April 5, 2013 3:25 AM

I may have been a bit naughty and sent an angry email about my boss to a colleague. She has deleted it and do have I. Is there anyway that the email could be retrieved by HR or the IT department? We use outlook express with remote access. Thanks

Mark J
April 5, 2013 9:01 AM

Unfortunately, deleted email is never fully deleted. Neither is any file, for that matter. It usually resides on a backup somewhere. The best you can do is hope they don't search their backup looking for something else and stumble across it. Anything entered on a company computer is the company's property and they have access to everything done on their machines.

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