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How to Find Missing Emails in MS Outlook (Where Is My Email?)

Did you ever wonder: where is my email?

Once again, an important email that you’re expecting has
disappeared. Or maybe it’s an email that you received yesterday, but can’t find
today. Either way, missing emails can be annoying.

But missing emails are more than just annoying. They can
cost your business money. What if that missing email was a customer order? Or
what if it was from a client who had an important question? if you don’t get
back to your clients in a timely fashion, they may take their business

If your emails have been disappearing from Outlook, you need
to find out why. More importantly, you need to learn how to get those missing
emails back.

In this tutorial, you’ll learn the four locations where most
missing emails in Outlook end up. You’ll also discover how to retrieve
Outlook’s lost emails. We’ll talk about where email marked as spam goes. Plus,
we’ll cover how to find archived emails in Outlook.

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Before going further in learning how to use Microsoft Outlook, be sure to grab our Free eBook: The Ultimate Guide to Inbox Zero Mastery. It’s packed wth inbox
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Now let’s dig into the material on how to find missing emails in Outlook.

How to Find Missing Emails (Video)

Learn how to use MS Outlook’s search function to find
missing Outlook messages in this short video.



Where Are Your Outlook Emails? 

not uncommon for email to go missing in any email system. Typically, emails go
missing when an email is accidentally deleted. It can also happen if the email
system incorrectly flags an incoming message as spam, which would mean the
message never reached your inbox. Less frequently, an email can go missing if
it’s archived and you don’t realize it. Or, if you accidentally file it in the
wrong email folder.

To find your Outlook lost emails, let’s examine the question: where does Outlook store emails? In
MS Outlook, here are the primary folders where you should look for missing
email messages:

  1. Archive folder. Outlook creates this
    folder the first time that you archive a message. Older messages are
    automatically sent to the Archive
    folder after a defined period.
  2. Deleted Items folder. This is one of
    the default MS Outlook folders. It’s where messages go when you delete them.
  3. Junk Email folder. This folder is also
    a Microsoft Outlook default folder. Email that seems to be junk messages goes
    to this folder. (Whether a message ends up in this folder depends on how your
    Junk email settings are defined.)
  4. Spam folder. The default in Outlook is
    for spam messages to go into the Junk Email folder. However, if you’ve got a
    third-party spam filter add-in, you may also have a Spam folder generated by
    the add-in.

Note: Depending on your settings, email in the Deleted Items folder and Junk Email folder may be automatically
deleted after a specified period. If this happens, you may not be able to
retrieve the email. If you’re using Outlook from within a business or school,
ask your administrator what the email retention policies are. 

not difficult to find the Deleted Items
folder or the Junk Email folder. All
you need to do is look in the Navigation

Deleted Itmes and Junk Email Folders
Missing emails in Outlook are often found in the Deleted Items or Junk Email folders.

Archive folder may be slightly more
difficult to find since it may be hidden, or it may not be called Archive. It
also might not be set up.

1. Set Up Your Archive Folder

To set up your Archive
folder, click the Archive icon on
the ribbon. The Set up One-Click Archive
popup appears:

Archive Popup
If you’re brand new to Outlook, you may need to set up your Archive folder.

the Create archive folder button to
create a new folder named Archive.
(You can also choose to use an existing folder for your archived messages.) The
new Archive folder is added to your Navigation pane:

New archive folder
The new Archive folder appears below the Deleted Items folder.

How to Find Missing Emails in Outlook

If you’re looking for missing emails in Outlook, you can
either go to the folder where you suspect the item is. Or, you can use
Microsoft Outlook’s search utility. Here’s how to find your missing message in
several common scenarios:

1. Find an Email in the Deleted Items Folder

Here’s how to find deleted emails in Outlook. No
matter which folder the lost email is in, start by locating the folder in the Navigation pane. Click on the folder to
open it and view the messages. In this case, I opened the Deleted Items Folder:

Deleted Items Folder
The Deleted Items folder is a good place to look for missing emails.

If you don’t see the missing message in the folder, use the Scrollbar on the right to move up and
down through the messages until you find it. You can also use the search bar at
the top of the messages.

This method of finding lost email messages works well when
you don’t have many messages in a folder. If you’ve got a lot of messages, you
may need to use Microsoft Outlook search.

2. Find Lost Messages in the Junk Email Folder

Sometimes the system mistakes new messages for spam. When
that happens, the messages are sent to the Junk
folder. If you’re expecting an email message but it never arrives,
check the Junk Email folder. Here’s
how to do it:

the Junk Email folder in the Navigation pane:

Spam folder
The Junk Email (or spam) folder is another place to look for missing Outlook messages.

on the Junk Email folder to open it: 

When looking for Outlook lost emails, don’t forget to check the Junk Email (spam) folder.

In this example, I’m looking for an email message about the
company’s new logo:

Missing email message
If you don’t have many messages in your Junk Email folder, you can easily find missing emails in Outlook.

the Junk Email folder in the example
only contains two messages, it’s easy for me to locate the message I’m looking
for. If your Junk Email folder is
full, you can use the scroll bars or the search bar to locate the missing email

Note: While messages are in the
folder, the system considers them to be spam. You won’t be able to click on
links within the message or download attachments until the email is moved to
another folder.

3. Find Lost Messages Using Microsoft Outlook Search

If you’ve
lost a message and have no idea where it might be, but know a little bit about
the message, you can use Microsoft’s email search utility to find it. You can
find Outlook Search tool above the
messages on the right side:

Outlook Search tool
You can also use the MS Outlook Search tool to find lost email.

use the search utility, type a word or phrase from the missing email in the
search box. The default is to search all mail within the mailbox you’re
currently using. Use the box on the left to further refine your search within
the current mailbox:

Refining an Outlook Search
You can define how your search results appear.

You can choose between All
, only Unread Mail, or only Mentioned Mail. You can also choose how
the search results are organized, and how they appear on the screen (Show as Conversations or Show in Groups).

To define how your search results are arranged, click the Arrange By option. Here’s a closer look
at the various options you’ve got to organize your search results:

Arranging search results
You can even define the order your results appear in.

If you want to search more than the current mailbox, use the
box on the right of the Search tool to define what mailboxes will be searched: 

Search parameters
Outlook defaults to searching the Current Mailbox, but you can change that.

you’ve got no idea where your missing Outlook email is, the last option, All Outlook Items is your best option
to find your lost email. However, the All
Outlook Items
won’t find items in your Deleted
folder, Junk E-Mail
folder, or Archive folder. To find
email messages in those folders, you must search from within the folder.

to Get Your Outlook Lost Emails Back

If you know which folder your missing email message is in
(or if you can guess), retrieving it is fairly easy.  You can either copy the missing email back to
the location where you want it to be. Or, you can drag it to the desired

1. Move the Retrieved Messages to the Original Folder

you’ve find the message you’re looking for, click on it to select it. Then
click the Move icon in the Ribbon.
The popup menu lists various folders that you can move the selected message to:

Moving an email message
If you’re wondering how do I get my email message back to where it belongs, use the Move option.

the name of the folder where you want to move the message. The missing email
message is removed from the current folder and moved to the selected folder.

2. Retrieve
Outlook Messages Using Drag and Drop

You can also retrieve Outlook folders using drag-and-drop. To drag and drop an email message, click on the
message to select it. In the example below, I’ve selected an email message from
the Deleted Items folder: 

Select an Email to Move
Select the email to be moved and then drag it to the correct folder. 

Continue to hold the mouse key and drag the selected email
to the Outlook folder where you want it to be. In this case, I’m moving the
message from the Deleted Items
folder to the From My New Boss

Dragging a message to a new folder
You can use drag-and-drop to move an email message in MS Outlook.

you release the mouse button, the selected message will be in the new folder
you selected.

How to Retrieve an Email from an Outlook Data File

your Outlook email is set up with a POP or IMAP, your messages are stored as
Personal Folders Files (.PST files). You can import these files back into your
Outlook email system

by clicking on the File tab in the
upper left of your email inbox. The Account
screen displays. Click the Open
& Export
menu option on the left:

Retrieve a message from a data file
Here’s how to find older archived emails in Outlook.

the Open Outlook Data File option.
The Open Outlook Data File screen
displays. Navigate to the folder where your Outlook files are stored:

Email data file
Sometimes you may need to retrieve a message from a data file.

Click on the archive file to select it. Then click OK. A new folder appears in your Navigation Pane that contains the
archived messages.

through the messages to find the ones you need. Or, use the search bar. Then,
copy the retrieved message into the appropriate folder.

to Stop Your Emails From Disappearing in Outlook

good way to keep emails from accidentally disappearing from Outlook is to
organize your inbox. You can do this by setting
up folders to help organize your email
. You can also use
rules to automatically sort certain emails
to specific folders or even to
block email from predefined senders.

For a complete guide on how to organize your email inbox, sign up for the Tuts+ Business newsletter and grab our free eBook: The
Ultimate Guide to Inbox Zero Mastery
. It’s packed with inbox organization strategies
and killer tips for managing all your incoming email more efficiently.  

Free Email Ebook


Now you know how to find your missing MS Outlook email
messages. In this tutorial, we’ve solved the problem of emails disappearing from Outlook. You’ve learned how to retrieve deleted emails from Outlook.
You’ve also learned how to find and retrieve archived emails in Outlook. We’ve
even discussed how to find and retrieve missing messages from the Junk Email

Best of all, you no longer have to
ask: “where is my email?” Nor do you have to worry about lost or
disgruntled customers due to missing emails in Outlook.