How to Recover Missing Emails in Gmail

Track down deleted or misplaced emails

If your Gmail inbox is missing important emails, don't worry. It is possible to recover them. Whether you accidentally deleted the messages or they disappeared for some unknown reason, you can follow these instructions to get them back.

If emails have disappeared for no discernible reason, you should change your Gmail password immediately, as it is possible your account was compromised.

Why Have My Messages Gone Missing on Gmail?

Gmail Android app.
Stock Catalog / Flickr 

There are a few reasons why Gmail messages may be lost. The most common reason is that users accidentally move or delete them, but forwards and filters can also cause emails to disappear.

  • Forwards: You may be forwarding emails to another address without realizing it. Log in to Gmail and select the gear icon in the top-right corner. Select Settings, then select the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab. Any forwarding addresses will appear at the top of the screen. Delete those you do not wish to forward to.
  • Filters: Filters direct certain emails away from your main inbox to keep your messages organized. To review your filter settings, select the gear icon > Settings > Filters and blocked addresses.

How to Recover Missing Emails in Gmail

There are few ways to find missing emails. They might have gone to spam, been archived or deleted, or something else.

  1. Check your spam.

    It's possible the missing email was caught by Gmail's spam filter. Select Spam from the left menu pane. (You may have to scroll down and select More to reveal the Spam folder.) Browse the list of emails in the Spam folder. If you find the missing email, select the checkbox next to it, then select Not spam.

    Emails marked as Spam stay in the Spam folder for 30 days and then are permanently deleted. Once deleted from the Spam folder you will not be able to access the missing email.

  2. Check your trash bin.

    It's possible your missing email was accidentally sent to the trash bin. From the left-hand menu, select More > Trash. If you find the email you're looking for, right-click (or tap and hold) it, open it or select the checkbox next to. From the menu bar, select Move to > Inbox.

    Emails sent to the Trash folder are permanently deleted after 30 days. If you deleted an email more than 30 days ago it is gone forever.

  3. Check social/promotions/updates tabs.

    Your missing email may be categorized as a promotional or social email, which have their own Inboxes in Gmail. Select either the Social, Promotions, or Updates tab. If you want to move any of these emails to your main inbox, simply click and drag the email to the Primary inbox.

  4. It's possible an email was archived without you realizing it. While this option will display all of your emails in one inbox, it will also contain any messages that might have been archived.

  5. The email you're looking for may be buried beneath other emails. Use Gmail's built-in search function to find it quickly by entering the email's subject, recipient, original sender, or body text.

    If you don't want to dig through all of your Spam or Social emails, you can use the search function within individual folders to narrow down the results.

If none of the above tips works and you desperately need to find an email, Google's support team may be able to help. Although the service is typically reserved for hacked accounts or when an email has been maliciously deleted, it can sometimes dig up lost emails.

Provide as much information about the missing email(s) as you can, including the date you first noticed they were missing. You'll need to make a request within 30 days of receiving or sending the email.