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The recent redesign of the Windows Live Hotmail has many people reporting missing folders. It's likely that they're not missing, just hiding.

I'm getting several reports of people who are unable to access the folders that they may have set up in Hotmail. Typically, the claim is that the folders are "gone" after the Hotmail UI update.

I did a little looking into it, and found at least a couple of possibilities that would indicate that the folders aren't gone at all.

They're just hiding.

First, let me show you what I see:

Hotmail Folders

As you can see, beneath "Deleted" I have my own folder "Leos Folder".

However, if the browser window containing Hotmail is too small to allow Hotmail to show the full list of folders, this happens:

Hotmail Folders, short version

You can see that my folder has disappeared.

If you look closely, though, you'll also see that a scrollbar has appeared next to the folder list. Use that to scroll down, and the rest of the folders can be seen:

Hotmail Folders, short version, scrolled

I believe that a lot of people are simply missing this particular change to the Hotmail user interface. Your folders are there, just in a list that's partially obscured.

Now, along those same lines I discovered an issue that can only be described as a bug in the Hotmail user interface.

If I choose "Manage Folders", at the bottom of the folder list, I get this:

Manage Folders UI in Windows Live Hotmail

However, if I make the browser window narrower, it eventually looks like this:

Manage Folders UI in Windows Live Hotmail, too narrow

As you can see, the folder names have disappeared! The column has resized to the point of not showing them at all.

Now, that's just under 1000 pixels wide, which means it probably works well at 1024x768 and larger screens, but if you have, say, 800x600, I know of no solution to manage your folders by name without making your window larger, or perhaps changing the text size to be smaller so that more can fit in the allotted space. (In IE, hit View, Text Size, and then select the next smaller setting than your current setting.)

The fact that the names are allowed to disappear is, in my opinion, a bug in the Windows Live Hotmail user interface. At a minimum, they should have resized a different, less important column, or allowed the columns to be resized.

Article C3579 - November 30, 2008 « »

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?

Kevin H.
December 1, 2008 12:54 AM

The thing is....there's nothing under deleted except ' Manage Folders" :(....

December 2, 2008 7:55 PM

I think you are talking about folders disappearing when you converted to Windows Live Hotmail, right?

I had the same thing happen when I converted to the first beta of this style. I do believe, at that time, I was able to switch back, out of the beta.

It's no consolation, but it does offer advice that before ever again switching formation in Hotmail, MOVE ALL EXISTING MESSAGES TO YOUR INBOX!

December 3, 2008 6:56 AM

My folders are still active but my contacts folder is empty and it will not allow me to save any address as a contact. HELP!

Linda White
December 6, 2008 2:59 PM

Unfortunately, there is no scroll bar on my hotmail, my folder I've had there since I opened the account in 1997 is not there anymore, and it is not listed under manage folders. I did save the emails in there but they are on floppy disk, and I no longer have a floppy drive on my new pc. I'm not even sure they are any good any more. After I saved them years ago, I never thought about saving them in a newer format. Pity me...not, I guess.

Rosalyn Holland
January 18, 2009 3:21 AM

I have not used my hotmail account for the last month, just wanted to know if it is deleted altogether because I did use it in December. Thank you

chris s
February 26, 2009 9:36 PM

I can read my hotmail account emails now since i have live. Are the emails gone forever out of my hotmail account? Is live and hotmail the same? I still have an account? can i still sign in to it?

deborah stalker
June 8, 2009 2:27 PM

i have had this email address stolen but need my folders to add to my new email address. sometimes a box comes up saying downloading from folders but i do not know how to get this out to add to [email address removed]...can you help me find these folders...i would be greatful...thanks...deborah

Karen Morgan
September 24, 2009 1:55 PM

All of my contacts and emails on msn have disappeared, including my bills (which need paying) and myh current job emails (which I badly need. I have no scroll bar, and no folder on the hotmail page.

December 21, 2009 12:50 PM

i had 2 folders named 'y' and 'sent y' and they disappeared when hotmail was upgraded to live. i realy want them back. i did not delete them they just vanished.
pls help!!! [there is no scroll bar]

February 3, 2010 1:54 PM

you wrote:.."If you look closely, though, you'll also see that a scrollbar has appeared next to the folder list. Use that to scroll down, and the rest of the folders can be seen"
There is no scrollbar next to my folder list

February 8, 2010 11:17 AM

Try creasting another folder, I did and the missing folder suddenly appearedv with the new one,however; I don't know whether they will disappear again.

March 16, 2010 11:41 AM

i have an account prior to the Windows Live Hotmail. i am receiving email under the old account, but not under the new. what should i do?

March 25, 2010 10:07 PM

I started this morning with a small experiment. I installed Outlook and tried to send copies of all my messages in Windows Live Hotmail to Outlook. I see all the folders but only few folders have messages. When checking Hotmail noticed all my folders gone. Is there a way of getting my folders back in Hotmail without loosing valuable information? I thought that all these emails were not stored on my own pc but at Hotmail. Maybe contact them and ask for reset of my account? Thanks for any help because little bit desperate.

Clinch Valley FD
June 30, 2010 8:38 AM

The FD hotmail does not appear anymore after I do a search for msnhotmail. I tried clicking on all option that even refer to "Inbox" or "Hotmail". Normally we do not keep it full but we do get a lot of mail some of it is critical and has deadlines. This is very frustrating and time wasting. What happened to the easy way- just click and there it is?

Dave Knight, chief

August 6, 2010 1:15 PM

Okay I noticed a missing folder today, so I came here and read the article. Here is the deal: 1. There is no scroll bar next to the folders. 2. The missing folder is not in "Manage Folders". 3. I tried creating a new folder with the same name to see if it would reappear, and all I have now is an empty new folder with the same name. Lame. I want to know where my stuff went.

August 29, 2010 10:29 AM

Where did my manage folders button go? How can I go in and delete folders now, and see how many messages are in my folders?

Richard Bell
September 29, 2010 2:16 PM

I want my contacts from hotmail sent to my new live hotmail account so I can put them in my live contact list. I have no way of contacting these people and I need them.

April 13, 2011 10:56 AM

Neither of the above situations pertain to me. I had to reset my password for my account and when I signed back in the next day all my inbox messages from before 4-4-11 were gone as were the folders I created. How else can I find them?

I'm guessing that unless you had them backed up elsewhere, you cannot. You didn't say why you had password problems, but if, for example, your account had been hacked the hacker could have deleted everything permanently.

July 13, 2011 9:14 PM

I have the same problem, all my folders and the emails in them have gone. No scroll bar. I am using Windows Live mail and had two different email accounts. I changed my password but no others changes I can recall.

Alan Wakefield
October 14, 2011 4:28 AM

I was in "manage folders" where I set to delete 1 folder.
After I clicked "save" I noticed Hotmail had deleted 4 other folders?
these folders hold important information, any ideas how to get them back?

Unfortunately, no, I don't. Another reason I recommend backing up your Hotmail account or not keeping important information ONLY in your Hotmail or any free email account.

November 15, 2011 2:27 PM

You will find a very small direction arrow placed on one or maybe two folders. Click this and it will take you to the missing folders.

Alternatively view Hotmail directly via your internet browser by typing into the address bar and log in.All the folders that are on MS server will show up here.If not they have been deleted.

January 14, 2012 11:03 AM

I deleted some folders on my msn/hotmail account on my iphone. Now those folders are gone on my imac and mac book. I didn't want to delete them on the computers. Will a Time machine restore them or can I recover them another way?

January 14, 2012 1:39 PM

It's a common misconception that the folders are actually on the device you are reading them from. But the folders actually reside on the Hotmail servers. Using any particular equipment to delete them (such as your phone) will delete the online folder. Then when you look at the account from another device (such as your computer) you will not be able to find them. You might be able to recover the folders from the trash folder. If you are able to restore the folders, they will then be accessible from all your viewing devices.

July 22, 2012 8:30 PM

How can I restore my POP folder on hotmail?

Ali Easley
February 15, 2013 10:06 AM

I used to have folders set up in my contacts. Now I just have one long list. Is it possible to find those folders again?

April 14, 2013 6:43 AM

Hi, I deleted folders from hotmail account one of which had a code to rebook a flight, its going to cost me £800 if I cannot find folder with the code. Have followed suggestions from this site but nothing really the same in my hotmail account, no scroll bar showing that i have overlooked files. Would appreciate any help & suggestions.
Regards, Paul

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