How to Fix It When Outlook Folders Are Missing

Don't miss data when you can restore it

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Discovering that one or more folders are missing in Outlook could be an oversight or something more significant. Either way, this is a relatively common problem with straightforward resolutions. Learn how to find a folder in Outlook, how to recover deleted folders in Outlook, and more.

Instructions in this article apply to Outlook 2019, Outlook 2016, Outlook 2013, Outlook 2010, and Outlook for Office 365.

Causes for Missing Outlook Folders

A number of things could cause missing Outlook folders. Any of the following could be the root of the problem:

  • Some of your Outlook folders are hidden
  • A folder was inadvertently deleted
  • Outlook isn't syncing with the server
  • The personal folder file is damaged

How to Fix Outlook Folders Missing

To troubleshoot missing Outlook folders, begin with the simplest and most common causes and fixes.

  1. Make sure all folders are showing. Missing folders could be something as simple as a minimized Folders pane. Also, since folders can be nested in Outlook, expanding a folder with a small triangle next to it may reveal the folders you can't find.

  2. Recover a deleted folder from the trash. If you accidentally deleted an entire folder, but haven't emptied your Deleted Items folder yet, you can send it right back to its original spot. Be sure to check the trash in your Outlook program and your system trash can, as it may be in either one of those places.

  3. Recover a deleted folder from the server. If you accidentally deleted an entire folder and have already emptied your Deleted Items folder, you can attempt to retrieve it from the server. Unfortunately, a folder that has been permanently deleted is not recoverable, but you might be able to recover messages that were in the folder from the Recoverable Items folder on the server.

    You may also be able to undelete individually deleted emails even if you can't recover the entire folder. It won't return the folder to your list, but maybe you can retrieve some of the messages that were in the folder.

  4. Repair your Outlook program. If Outlook isn't syncing correctly, folders you created on the server may not appear in your desktop application. If your account isn't syncing, use the built-in repair tool to fix it.

  5. Repair your Outlook personal folder file. If your Outlook personal folder (.pst) file is corrupted, folders might be missing. Fortunately, Outlook provides the Inbox Repair Tool to fix this issue.

  6. Restore folders from a backup. If you created a backup of your personal folder file and the missing folders were included, you may be able to get them back by restoring the .pst file from your saved data.

  7. Fix connection issues. If your Wi-Fi or other connection isn't working properly, the issue could also prevent your account from connecting and syncing with the server. If you're not syncing, some of your Outlook folders may not be showing, or if they are showing, they may be empty. These will likely reload once your connection is restored.

  8. Repair your Outlook profile. If your folders are still missing and you're also missing new email messages in Outlook, there might be something wrong with your email profile.

If the problem is your Outlook won't open so you can access your files, you can try fixing it on your own before you reach out to someone for help.