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How to recover permanently deleted emails in Gmail

How to recover permanently deleted emails in Gmail

min read

You know the feeling — you accidentally just deleted a really important email, and now you’re struggling to find it and feeling totally out of luck.

Well, take a deep breath because it’s often possible to retrieve deleted emails in Gmail. In fact, Google offers several ways to recover deleted mail. They’re not all obvious and none of them guarantee the ability to find deleted mail, but there are several things you can try, which is why we’ve written this blog post. Read on to learn more.

What is Gmail's email deletion process?

When you tap Delete on an email (or multiple emails), Google automatically sends them to your Gmail Trash folder, where they will stay for 30 days. After that period, those emails will be permanently deleted.

If you head over to the Trash folder, you'll find your last 30 days' worth of deleted emails. You'll also find the option to Delete Forever, which will have them permanently deleted with only 30 days to recover them.

Although deleted Gmail emails don’t have any guaranteed backup that you can pull them out from, they may remain in Gmail's backup servers. From that point, you can ask Google's support team to retrieve them for you.

However, it can be tricky to restore permanently deleted emails, which is why it's advised that you archive messages instead. Archived emails are easy to access and still fully out of the way. 

But if you’re reading this because you're trying to recover a deleted email, here's how to do so before and after the 30-day time period, as well as with and without a recent backup of your data. 


Retrieve deleted emails in Gmail with no recent backup

Recovering deleted emails without a recent backup of your email data is often a tricky, time-sensitive process. We recommend you try these methods sooner rather than later, especially if the deleted messages you're trying to recover are approaching that 30-day time frame.

There are several strategies you can try if you don’t have a backup of your original email and are looking for deleted emails:

Retrieve deleted emails in Gmail with a backup

If you have backup turned on for your Gmail account, it can be a lot easier to recover permanently deleted emails. Depending on how you've backed up your deleted messages, you can use one or more of the options here:

Some of these methods will work great, depending on how much time has passed since you've deleted emails from Gmail. Below are more details on these methods with easy step-by-step walkthroughs:

How to recover deleted Gmail emails within 30 days

Here's how to recover permanently deleted emails depending on which device you're using:

1. Recover deleted emails from desktop

From trash folder

  1. Open Gmail and log into your account.
  2. Scroll down in the left-hand menu to find the Trash folder.
  3. Scroll through the Trash folder until you find the deleted email you want to recover. Note: You can recover multiple emails at once.
  4. If you can't find it in the Trash folder, try running an Advanced Search, which you can do by clicking on the arrow next to the search box at the top of the screen.
  5. Type in any information you remember of the deleted email, like the sender’s name, or exact words from the body of the email, for example.
  6. Click Search.
  7. Once you've found the deleted email, check the box next to it on the left, then click the Move icon at the top of the page, as shown in the screenshot below.
  8. Select the Inbox label from the drop-down list, or any other destination you want to move the deleted email to.
A screenshot of the Gmail inbox labelling the different icons in the inbox to explain how to recover deleted emails in Gmail

Note: Some people have their Trash folder hidden. To unhide, navigate to Settings > Labels > Show. You'll find all of your hidden labels (including the Trash folder) on the left side of the screen.

By editing or deleting a filter

Recovering permanently deleted emails is surprisingly easy with this feature, provided that you have it turned on. After signing in to your Gmail account, go to your Advanced settings (by clicking the gear icon at the top), and follow these steps:

  1. On the Filters and Blocked Addresses tab, look for filters that include the words "Skip Inbox" or "Delete It."
  2. You can choose to update those filters or delete them entirely.
  3. You can also uncheck the box that deletes or skips email from inbox, which will recover some of your deleted emails within Gmail.
  4. Click Update Filter.
A screenshot of what's inside Gmail's Advanced Settings

From “Mail & Spam & Trash” option

There's also a chance that the deleted messages on your Gmail account have been moved to the Spam folder, in which case you can find them with ease with these steps:

  1. Open your Gmail account and head to the search bar at the top. Then, click on the drop-down arrow.
  2. Head over to the All Mail drop-down, then click on the Mail & Spam & Trash folder.
  3. Make sure you remember information about the content of your deleted messages, like the sender or exact words from these lost emails. You can leave this field blank if you don't have sufficient email data.
  4. Click Search, and you'll be able to restore deleted emails without any hiccups.
A screenshot of the drop down menu on the search bar at the top f the Gmail account

2. Recover deleted emails on Android

Your options for deleted email recovery are limited if you’re using an Android and not a desktop, so we highly recommend finding a computer to work on. However, if a phone is all you have on hand, here's the best way to attempt to recover your permanently deleted emails:

  1. Open the Gmail app.
  2. At the top left, tap on the Menu button, then tap on the Trash folder to access deleted emails in Gmail.
  3. Click on the photo or letter to recover deleted emails from Gmail.
  4. Tap on the More icon (the three dots at the top right of the screen).
  5. Choose Move To to restore emails to a new folder.
A screenshot fo the Gmail Tash inbox in Android with th three dots highlighted

3. Recover deleted emails on iOS and iPad

You can recover emails on your iPhone or iPad device with only a few clicks. Here's how to do so:

  1. Open your Gmail app.
  2. Tap Menu at the top left of the screen.
  3. Find and then tap the Trash folder to recover deleted messages.
  4. Select the ones you want to recover, and then tap More at the top right of your device screen.
  5. A window will pop up, prompting you to move the selected emails. Tap Move to, and choose a new folder to send those restored messages to.
A screenshot of the Gmail Trash inbox on iOS with the three-dots highlighted

How to recover deleted Gmail emails beyond the 30-day limit

If the previous methods fail to recover your emails, your email may have passed the 30-day recovery limit. In that case, you can try these five methods, which might help you retrieve permanently deleted emails.

1. From the Gmail server

Permanently deleted emails tend to stay on Google's backup servers for a while, which means you can request those if they're still there. You'll find these steps similar to the steps of recovering deleted emails in Gmail from the Trash folder:

  1. Log into the Gmail app.
  2. Head to the search bar at the top of your screen and start an Advanced Search by tapping on the arrow at the left side of the search bar.
  3. Add information like sender, keywords, and the subject. Enter as much information as you can remember.
  4. Hit Search to view your permanently deleted email.
A screenshot of the drop down menu in the search bar on top of your Gmail account, with the Search bar highlighted

2. Via the Gmail support team

Sometimes the Google support team can recover emails that have been deleted months ago. Visit Google Help or the Gmail Help Community page to get some support from fellow users and Google Support.

A screenhot of the Gmail Help Community page

Note: The support team might need information on deleted emails similar to the data you enter in the Advanced Search pop-up to restore permanently deleted emails.

3. From the admin console

  1. First off, you'll need to access Google Admin Console and log in as the Administrator to the account with the missing emails.
  2. Visit Menu from the Admin Console, then select Directory > Users.
  3. Choose the user in question from the Users List. Alternatively, you can search in the Find a User Account query.
  4. Once the user is located, click on them, then choose More Options > Restore Data.

Note: This tactic is only worth trying if your Gmail address is through a Google Workspace account, i.e. not a personal account.

A screenshot of Google Workspace Admin console in the Overview section

4. Via Google Vault

It's possible to restore deleted emails from Gmail through Google Vault, which automatically archives and retains chat messages and emails. Here's how you can attempt to recover deleted emails there:

  1. Head to Google Vault, log in, and then create a Matter.
  2. Create a search query, and enter the information related to the emails you need to recover.
  3. Click on the emails once the search is complete, then click Export.
  4. You can import the deleted emails back into your Gmail account.

5. Using recovery tools

Recovery tools are very effective in restoring deleted emails in Gmail. Here are two tools to resort to if you delete emails by mistake:

A. Gmail Message Recovery Tool

This tool is specifically designed to quickly recover messages that have been permanently deleted, so there's a high chance of finding your deleted emails in Gmail with it. This is how to use this tool:

  1. Head to the Gmail Message Recovery Tool, and sign in to your account.
  2. You'll be prompted to confirm that you're using the correct account. Click Continue.
A screenshot of the Gmail Message Recovery Tool with the Help Center feature at the top highlighted in red

If your emails are retrievable, you'll see a confirmation pop-up and some recommended next steps for getting those messages back in your inbox.

B. Outlook AutoArchive

If you're an Outlook user, you might find AutoArchive useful. In a nutshell, the AutoArchive feature moves your old emails as well as other files into a separate folder on your hard drive, a departmental server, or a workgroup with a (.pst) extension.

This feature will prompt your inbox to archive items every 14 days and will delete expired messages from your inbox. However, note that AutoArchive is not activated by default to your Inbox, Contacts, Drafts, and Notes. This feature would have to have been turned on in advance to actively recover deleted emails.

Effectively manage your emails in Gmail with Streak

If you’ve made it this far in our blog post, you’re well aware that Gmail is a robust, yet overwhelming tool. Without a hand from a reliable, integrated CRM, it’d be easy to lose track of emails, projects, client information, and more. 

But with tools like Streak, you’d really have to try to lose emails and important information. You can share, filter, and group emails as you wish, with zero chance of important business emails slipping between the cracks. Plus, you can share views of your pipelines and projects with teammates and manage every to-do directly from your inbox.

Ready to see it for yourself? Try Streak for free. It only takes 30 seconds to get started, and it'll save you the hassle of inbox management.

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