How to Recover Missing Emails in Gmail

Track down deleted or misplaced emails

What to Know

  • In the Search mail bar, enter a unique word or phrase from the missing email. Move it to your Inbox when you find it.
  • Search the Spam, Trash, and All Mail folders for emails. Also, search the Social, Promotions, and Updates tabs. 
  • Click More in the left menu pane to access all folders and tabs. Contact Google Support as a last resort.

Whether you accidentally deleted the emails, or if they disappeared for some unknown reason, follow these instructions to retrieve your missing Google emails.

Why Have My Messages Gone Missing on Gmail?

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 upper-right corner. Select See all 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: Gmail filters direct certain emails away from your main inbox to keep your messages organized. To review your filter settings, select the Settings gear > See all settings > Filters and Blocked Addresses.
Gmail Android app.
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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 They might have gone to spam, been archived or deleted, or something else.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 menu pane, select More > Trash. If you find the email you're looking for, right-click it and choose Move to inbox.

    On a touchscreen, press and hold the message and then choose 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 the Social, Promotions, and 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, click and drag the email to the Primary inbox.

  4. Review your archived emails. 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. Use the Gmail search function. 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, use the search function within individual folders to narrow down the results.

  6. Use the Gmail Message Recovery Tool. If none of the above tips works and you need to find an email, the Recovery Tool 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 as you can, including the date you first noticed it was missing. Only emails that were deleted within the last 30 days will be recoverable.

  • Why are emails I've moved missing from their folders?

    There are several causes for previously saved emails to disappear. It could be a device syncing issue or filters accidentally mis-filing or deleting messages. If you share a Gmail account, it's also possible that someone else has moved or deleted those messages accidentally.

  • What do I do if my sent emails are missing?

    Missing sent emails could be caused by a server issue, browser problems, or possibly a filter that's mistakenly deleting messages once they're sent. Try restarting the Gmail or clearing your browser's cache first. If it's a server issue, wait for a few minutes or hours and then check again.

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