How to Retrieve Archived Emails in Gmail

Did you lose an important message? It might be archived

What to Know

  • Select the All Mail label to see all mail, including what's been archived.
  • Select any message you want to recover, and then select Move to Inbox.
  • In the Gmail app, find and open the message, then tap the three-dot menu and select Move to Inbox.

This article explains how to find archived emails in Gmail and move them back to your Inbox. Instructions apply to Gmail in all web browsers and the Gmail mobile app.

How to Retrieve Archived Emails in a Browser

Although archived messages are removed from your inbox, these messages are still stored in your Gmail account and can be retrieved in a few steps. These messages also remain indexed and appear when you search for Gmail messages. You can view emails while they're archived, but if you plan to continue the conversation, move the messages in the conversation to the Inbox.

  1. Select All Mail on the left side of Gmail.

    All Mail in Gmail
  2. Select the emails you want to return to the Inbox. The emails that are in the Inbox are labeled Inbox in front of the subject line.

    Check boxes in front of emails to return to Inbox in Gmail

    Use Gmail search tools to find your archived messages.

  3. In the main toolbar above the emails, select Move to Inbox.

    Gmail with the Move to Inbox button highlighted
  4. A confirmation appears that verifies the emails have been moved to the Inbox. Select Undo to reverse the process.

    Gmail confirmation dialogue box with the Undo button highlighted

Retrieve Archived Emails Using the Mobile App

Here's how to move archived messages back to your Inbox using the mobile Gmail app:

  1. Tap the Menu icon (three horizontal lines) at the top of the screen.

  2. Tap All Mail in the panel that opens.

  3. Tap the email you want to retrieve.

    Menu and All Mail in the Gmail app
  4. Tap the three-dot menu in the upper-right corner of the message.

  5. Tap Move to Inbox

    Three dot menu and Move to Inbox in the Gmail app

Tips to Avoid Accidental Archiving

It can be easy to archive a message accidentally. Avoid this by taking the following precautions:

  • On a smartphone or tablet, take your time when scrolling through messages and don't make any sudden swiping motions from right to left.
  • The archive swipe motion can be changed in the app settings. Go to General settings > Swipe actions.
  • Watch for any confirmation messages stating that a conversation has been archived. This message is usually paired with an Undo button that you can use if necessary.
  • How do I delete an archived email in Gmail?

    Select All Mail, then locate the archived email you want to delete. Select the check box next to the email, then select the Trash icon to delete it.

  • How long does Gmail hold onto archived emails?

    Archived emails are kept in your Gmail account indefinitely. They won't disappear unless you delete them.

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